Saturday, November 16, 2013

Playin' Those 'Mind Games'

"We all been playin' those mind games forever
Some kinda druid dude liftin' the veil
Doin' the mind guerrilla
Some call it magic, the search for the grail."

John Lennon

John Lennon has always been my favorite Beatle, and his death was (for me, at least, and I am sure for many others around the world) the kind of event of which one says, "I remember where I was and what I was doing when ..."

(That's the kind of statement, incidentally, that I have heard a lot in recent days, being as we are nearly upon the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Perhaps that is why it springs so easily to mind in the context of a story about Lennon.)

But on this day in 1973, Lennon was neither a Beatle (anymore) nor the murdered ex–Beatle he became in 1980. He was a solo artist, and he released his single "Mind Games," the title track from the album he released a couple of weeks earlier, in the United Kingdom 40 years ago on this day.

The rest of the album wasn't bad, but the title track was really the only truly memorable song from it.

My fellow Lennon admirers will mention a whole range of songs when asked to name their favorite Lennon composition. Some are familiar to mainstream listeners, like "Imagine" or songs he wrote when he was with the Beatles, but some are rather obscure. If you mention them to Lennon fans, they will smile and nod their heads knowingly, but, more often than not, if you mention them to mainstreamers, their faces will show no recognition.

In many ways, "Mind Games" is like that. I think it is a classic Lennon melody with classic Lennon lyrics, easily comparable to any of the best songs he recorded with the Beatles or as a solo artist after the Beatles broke up.

Lennon's admirers will know of it; casual listeners probably will not.

And that probably plays games with a few minds today, just as it did with some critics 40 years ago.