Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Seashell Eyes, Windy Smile

It’s John Winston Ono Lennon’s birthday today. Had he been alive he would have been 67 years old and perhaps writing many more beautiful songs. One man’s lunacy resulted in a highly premature end to the music and poetry of one of the greatest artistes of all time.

In my opinion, Lennon recorded some of his best music during his solo career starting with the phenomenal album, 'John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band' (1970). But for the occasion, I’m going to talk about a song which he wrote and sang on the landmark double disc album by The Beatles, referred to as The White Album (1968). The song is called 'Julia'.

No other Beatle sings or plays on the recording and this is the only time that Lennon played and sang unaccompanied on a Beatles track. It was written for his mother Julia (who also died in an accident) and his wife, Yoko Ono (Yoko in Japanese means ‘child of the sea’…you will see the significance of this when you read the lyrics below)). He also drew inspiration from Kahlil Gibran’s poem ‘Sand and Foam’ for this brilliantlly soft track painting a totally surreal imagery. Travis picking (a style of picking of the guitar strings) and his dreamy, lullaby sort of voice goes on to complete the picture.

The usage, ‘Seashell eyes, Windy smile’ is one of the finest I’ve come across in popular music.

Half of what I say is meaningless
But I say it just to reach you, Julia

Julia, Julia, oceanchild, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia
Julia, seashell eyes, windy smile, calls me
So I sing a song of love, Julia

Her hair of floating sky is shimmering, glimmering,
In the sun
Julia, Julia, morning moon, touch me
So I sing a song of love, Julia

When I cannot sing my heart
I can only speak my mind, Julia

Julia, sleeping sand, silent cloud, touch me
So I sing a song of love, Julia

Hum hum hum...calls me
So I sing a song of love for Julia, Julia, Julia

Dave Grohl, ex-Nirvana drummer and singer/guitarist of the Foo Fighters, once said that his life would be complete if he could write a song like "Julia." For me, just listening to the song is enough.

So, at midnight I did a small celebration by playing ‘Julia’, before dozing off to golden slumbers and wanting to dream of sleeping sand and silent clouds.


Naked said...

beautiful boy! cracker of a post.
You won't believe this man - i've had "julia" running thru me mind y'day, today, and tomorrow. just got back from rishikesh, and whereabouts, missed the ashram tho.
Put this photo blog a few days back
( some Lennon there too)

cheers mman, very good stuff indeed.

Prabhakar Mundkur said...

oh thanks meraj, i no longer have a copy of the white album but remember each song in detail, dear prudence, savoy truffle which george wrote for clapton who had a sweet tooth, Blackbird, while my guitar, etc. I think the album established stylish minimalism right from the blank cover to the instrumentation of the songs in contrast to the heavy orchestration of Sgt Peppers. Along with Rocky Racoon the album has several soft acoustic ballads. Maybe partly because their relationship with each other was at their worst and Ringo is even known to have walked out of the studio for a large part...cheers

Prabhakar Mundkur said...

i meant that john might have to do a song with just a guitar because no one else might have been in the studio!!

meraj said...

many thanks for the hearty appreciation. checked out the photoblog...its nice.

the white album is an all time favorite and beatles's best for me. been listening to it for some 20 years now and still it pleases me....everytime.

and yeah, they all left him to produce this classic...his solo career had already begun and his later works (solo albums) reflect this...songs like 'love', 'mind games', 'grow old with me' etc etc.

perhaps, we should catch up sometime, somewhere over 'the white'

Nov 1 said...

badiya hai...

phish said...

a tribute to julia. an exceptional post about an exceptional song. the white album is a treasured possession here as well. i actually have the original double LP from EMI.

i dont play it though.

svety said...

hi meraj...i keep coming to this blog regularly to get my dosage of passionate writing...ur honesty to whatever u enjoy doing is so refreshing...makes a believer out of me everytime i visit..

if u want a smile chk out my other place http://www.svetyiswalkingonsonshine.blogspot.com/

meraj said...

thanks Svety. thats a big and beautiful compliment.
i can see that you are enjoying your talented son and being a mother. cheers!

Bhaskar Khaund said...

this post got me playing the White after eons..at least a couple years i think....still played less than a fourth of the album but Julia stood out ! (also enjoyed BLASTING Yer Blues , brought back ole times !)

meraj said...

bublu, the tracks which still work for me (apart from Julia) from the album are:
- dear prudence (can always appreciate ol' pauls bass)
- blackbird (very sweet - got to give this one to ol' paul again)
- rocky raccoon ?(just for the banter between lennon and dylan)
- i will (simplicity)
- yer blues (of course)
- mother nature's son
- helter skelter (way beyond its time)
- honey pie (for the story)
- good night (absolute lullaby)

hey, ive listed quiet a few tracks there...guess the album will always rock.

but, yeah...julia stands out shining!