Empty Garden – From Elton (John) to (John) Lennon

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Of all tribute songs written by a non-Beatle for John Lennon after his senseless killing in December 1980, nothing compares for me to Elton John’s Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny).

The song likens John to a worthy garden caretaker that some inconsequential person took away, “A gardener like that one no one can replace…It’s funny how an insect can damage so much grain…” The lyrics are Bernie Taupin’s, Elton’s lifetime collaborator, while the beautiful melody is, of course, his own.

From what I remember, Elton rarely played it live since the song’s release in his 1982 album Jump Up! because it was painful for him to be reminded of John Lennon’s death. Elton was a close friend to John; their relationship was secured by their musical collaboration in the mid-1970s. Elton and John appeared together in a concert and Elton is Sean’s godfather.

The official video is accessible in youtube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AABK5eY1DGc.

A harrowing live version of this song performed at the turn of the century at the Madison Square Garden is in this link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa_7cuGMIGg. Elton at the beginning explains why he rarely performed the song live.

The lyrics are here:

What happened here
As the New York sunset disappeared
I found an empty garden among the flagstones there
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And now it all looks strange
It’s funny how one insect can damage so much grain
And what’s it for
This little empty garden by the brownstone door
And in the cracks along the sidewalk nothing grows no more
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And we are so amazed we’re crippled and we’re dazed
A gardener like that one no one can replace
And I’ve been knocking but no one answers
And I’ve been knocking most all the day
Oh and I’ve been calling oh hey hey Johnny
Can’t you come out to play
And through their tears
Some say he farmed his best in younger years
But he’d have said that roots grow stronger if only he could hear
Who lived there
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
Now we pray for rain, and with every drop that falls
We hear, we hear your name
Johnny can’t you come out to play in your empty garden

Saddest Beatles Songs

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http://www.myusyk.com came out with Top Ten Saddest Beatles Songs, which is quite a good list. Many may agree, many may not. But at any rate, the main contention would probably be about the ranking. That is what I also feel. But let’s go through the six-minuter youtube to get to the countdown. Here’s the youtube – http://www.myusyk.com/video/1703/top-ten-saddest-beatles-songs/

10. No Reply from Beatles for Sale is about a partner not being upfront

9. Norwegian Wood from Rubber Soul deals with a one-night affair that would not work

8. I’m A Loser from Beatles for Sale is putting a different face despite a regrettable loss

7. You’ve Got To Hide Your love Away from Help! is purportedly about gays

6. Yes It Is, b-side but compiled in Past Masters is a relationship in transition past a previous one

5. For No One from Revolver is about falling out of love

4. She’s Leaving Home from Sgt. Pepper deals with a daughter who elopes. Verdict “…Fun is something money can’t buy”

3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps from The Beatles aka White Album seems to be the singer silently weeping for everybody for not knowing how to unfold love, perversion, control. (probably!)

2. Eleanor Rigby from Revolver is a very lonely picture cast in a painting. Wow what a great poetry!

1. Yesterday from Help! is longing for a past that is forever gone

My own verdict? I don’t know the basis for the Top Ten whether or not it was the lyrics, song structure, melody, or intent of the writer, or all of the above. But I agree with the Top Two.

Now if you talk about the saddest song of The Beatles, for me it should be Eleanor Rigby. On the other hand, if you talk about the saddest Beatles love song, then it should be Yesterday. There is always something in The Beatles lyrics that hits you hard.

Let’s listen to both again courtesy of youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ntiz-Pmvy4 (Yesterday); (Eleanor Rigby) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wssbIgRh0k

James Taylor on Paul McCartney 

“…melodic screamer from I’m Down to Maybe I’m Amazed.” I can only agree.

“Paul is like an impressionist painter,” says James Taylor, who had the privilege of watching the Beatles record the White Album in 1968. “The pieces of his music are so elementary, yet the overall thing is so sophisticated. He’s such a precise and controlled singer.” On songs from the Beatles’ frenzied “I’m Down” to his own “Maybe I’m Amazed,” McCartney revealed himself as one of rock’s most agile and melodic screamers. But McCartney, who learned vocal harmonies from his musician father, is at least as gifted as a balladeer, drawing on British music-hall sounds from his childhood as much as Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers for songs such as “Yesterday” and “Michelle.” “People chose Lennon or McCartney,” says Taylor. “I was definitely on the McCartney side. He makes a beautiful sound.”

Quote is from post of Roger Nicolucci as posted in the FB group The Fab Four

John Lennon Sings The “Band On The Run” Album – New Year 1975

It started as fun and ended just as that. John amd his coterie of musicians just performed basically the BOTR album of Paul. For whatever intention or reason. But it was obvious that many of them knew the album by heart including Mamunia, Picasso’s Last Words, No Words and Mrs. Vanderbilt. Simply amazing. John led the singing and directed the whole thing.

How authentic this is I really don’t know. John for one in some parys did not sound like the natural John. Well…

Here’s a shorter cut if it but with other Wings songs. Enjoyed the comments.

It must be 1980 as the second video says. Hmmm. Interesting because we only have one source.

Stella McCartney proud of her Beatle dad’s song – BBC News

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-40398365

    These are external links and will open in a new window
  • Stella McCartneyImage copyrightPA

    Fashion designer Stella McCartney has chosen her dad’s song Blackbird as one of her records for Desert Island Discs.

    She said she found it “incredible how contemporary the song feels” and was “proud” of former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney for writing it.

    Stella told the BBC Radio 4 show that music had been “the driving force in every moment of our childhood”.

    For her book choice, she also chose Sir Paul’s memoir Japanese Jailbird, written by him but never released.

    The manuscript – detailing what happened in 1980 when the star spent nine days in a Japanese jail for a drugs offence – has been locked away for decades with the only copies given to his children, something that Stella said she finds “very beautiful”.

    She went on: “I just think it makes me remember family and it would make me also remember freedom.”

    The 45-year-old also praised the late David Bowie after choosing his song Starman as one of her tracks.

    “What an amazing talent and again so modern, so relevant and so individual. What an incredible, individual voice he had,” she said.

    Mary McCartney, Paul McCartney and Stella McCartneyImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
    Image captionStella McCartney, right, alongside her father Paul and sister Mary in 2009

    Speaking about Blackbird – on the 1968 album The Beatles – Stella said the track had “never aged”, which she described as shocking.

    “I’m really proud of dad that he wrote it at such a young age, he had this sort of incredible vision to understand politics, to understand poetry,” she added.

    She recalled how music was a huge influence on her childhood and her father would come home every day from the studio and she would listen to what he had created.

    Stella spoke of meeting many famous faces from the music world, such as Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson, who all had “an incredible influence” on her.

    The designer told the programme she often used the name Stella Martin while at school and studying at London’s Central Saint Martins college to avoid being recognised.

    Her final year show in college hit the headlines after famous faces such as Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Yasmin Le Bon wore her designs on the catwalk.

    Stella McCartney and Kate MossImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
    Image captionKate Moss, right, took part in Stella McCartney’s, left, fashion show at college

    “I look back on that moment and just feel a bit embarrassed that I was so naive,” she said.

    The designer went on to defend some of the expensive price tags on items in her fashion range.

    When asked about the “ethics” and “morals” of someone paying thousands for a dress, she said: “Look at some of my competitors and that’s probably fairly well-priced.

    “I mean, I do struggle with that concept, but I work really hard to have a lot of products that are available on a better price point.”

    Stella McCartney’s full Desert Island Disc track choices were:

    • Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
    • Road to Nowhere by Talking Heads
    • Blackbird by The Beatles
    • Starman by David Bowie
    • Something by Phyllis Dillon (a reggae version of the George Harrison-penned Beatles song)
    • God Only Knows The Beach Boys
    • A Kiss to Build a Dream On by Louis Armstrong
    • Faith by George Michael