Among the things I didn’t know

What would have happened if John Lennon ended up playing bass?
Alex Johnston

You can hear the answer by listening to ‘The Long and Winding Road’, on which he actually did play bass.

I will simply quote Ian Macdonald’s assessment, from p. 339 of Revolution in the Head:

Recurring wrong notes at 0:28, 2:10 and 3:07; mis-strikes ar 2:39 and 2:52; drop-outs at 2:59 and 3:14; a fumble at 0:19; a vague glissando at 1:03; a missed final push at 3:26.

I’ve just listened to the song, and these are only some of the mistakes Lennon made. As Macdonald points out, at 1:59, as McCartney sings ‘You left me standing here…’, you can hear him grinning at how badly Lennon’s playing.

13 comments on “Among the things I didn’t know

  1. Maybe apocryphal but…….John Lennon on being asked if Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world…

    “Ringo isn’t the best drummer in the Beatles”.

    And definitely not apocryphal, Eric Morecambe on being asked what he and Ernie would be if they weren’t comedians

    “Mike and Bernie Winters”

  2. I always enjoyed the original recordings for the slip-ups that made it feel like being among friends, you were almost a part of the joke as you’d hear them break or laugh along in the background.

  3. What would have happened if John Lennon ended up playing bass?

    With a bit of practice he would have done just fine. 99% of bass players end up on bass because they aren’t all that good on the guitar.

    Besides, who cares? It’s a crappy song from a crappy album… Lennon had clearly checked out of the Beatles by that time, and Let It Be shows he was fully justified in doing so.

  4. Paul McCartney on the other hand is / was an amazing bass player and a key figure in the development of the instrument.
    He is turn credits Carol Kay who did all that amazing plectrum bass for the Beachboys
    Top Bass lines
    Ever lasting Love – Love affair
    Aint No Stoppin Us Now – McFadden and Whitehead
    Almost any Chic bass line
    What about the rising bassline in”Life on Mars” ( but the film is a saddening bore , cos he wrote it ten times or more ..)
    Nice !

    Worst
    Anything with that horrible slappy nonsense

  5. Paul McCartney on the other hand is / was an amazing bass player and a key figure in the development of the instrument.

    Bah, humbug. He was a great bassist, but no innovator. There was no legion of bassist inspired by his playing. He’s more of a Jack Bruce than a John Entwhistle.

  6. The instrument he’s most associated with (the Hofner violin bass) was dreadful, no sustain or tone.

  7. Ok but I don`t get the John Entwhistle thing, that bit on My Generation is the only thing I have ever noticed.
    Perhaps that a good thing, bass lines you notice are not always a good thing , can`t stand that volume knob sound they use of Paul Young records, Joy Division not my thing either
    On the other hand Paul Simonon ace (London Calling )
    Whoever does that bass intro on The Night ( Four Seasons )

    Best ever … got to be Bernard Edwards

  8. The supposed Lennon/Ringo quote was actually a Jasper Carrot joke. You will find many professional drummers admiring Ringo’s taste and feel in playing just what is right for the song rather than being a show off.

  9. Dennis,
    I’m afraid your timeline is a bit off as Let It Be wasn’t the last recorded album despite its later release.
    Their last recorded album was the almost universally-admired Abbey Road.

  10. Their last recorded album was the almost universally-admired Abbey Road.

    I didn’t claim Let It Be was their last album. I stated that John had basically checked out by the time it was recorded.

    As to Abbey Road, that album (good as it is) was lots of Paul, some George, and very little John or Ringo. It was closer to being McCartney’s first solo album than the Beatles’ last album.

  11. Ok but I don`t get the John Entwhistle thing, that bit on My Generation is the only thing I have ever noticed.

    First: Put headphones on and listen to him on Live at Leeds and Live at Hull. Especially on both versions of Young Man Blues.

    Entwhistle live is unlike any other bass player in rock. Townsend was able to be a great rhythm guitarist (with the odd solo now and again) on stage (rather than a traditional lead guitarist) because Entwhistle had the ability to play lead guitar on a bass during any song at any time, which he did. He, more than Moon or Townsend, made The Who the best live band of their era. His incorporation of lead guitar sensibilities into the bass line allowed both Townsend and Moon to wonder off into areas that showcased their unique talents.

    Once you’ve done that, go back and actually pay attention to Entwhistle on Tommy and Who’s Next.

  12. Another vote for The Ox here too. The Who have the best rhythm section of any of their contemporaries. Only Led Zep are remotely on the same page.

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