This Boy

Whatever the deficiencies of John Lennon’s politics, he more than made up for them in his music, where his cynicism alternated with and complicated his idealism. And the team of Lennon/McCartney — as singers, songwriters, and instinctive harmonists — was of course the organic entity that made the Beatles.
Today is the anniversary of John Lennon’s birth. Bring to mind any one of his tough, beautiful, moving songs — “This Boy,” “Any Time at All,” “If I Fell,” “Yes It Is,” “In My Life,” “Help,” “I’m Only Sleeping,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Julia,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Number 9 Dream,” your own personal favorite. Consider the biting words of his “Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out.” I’m not entirely sure what he was saying, but it’s an intriguing text:

Nobody loves you when you’re old and grey
Nobody needs you when you’re upside down
Everybody’s hollerin’ ’bout their own birthday
Everybody loves you when you’re six foot in the ground.

In the video below, the Beatles lip synch John’s “This Boy,” with John’s sinuous lead vocal winding around the harmony parts.


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