As Beatle-mania came to a close and the fab foursome called it quits, the rock and roll legends were left to trek out on their own.
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Though Paul McCartney was the first to release solo music, John Lennon followed soon after, sharing an album full of self-reflective quips and digs at his former writing partner. The debut effort, Plastic Ono Band, confirmed Lennon’s songwriting chops wouldn’t waver an inch without the input of McCartney and his other former bandmates.
Over the next decade, Lennon went on to release a number of solo albums, which encompassed some of his most famous works— “Imagine,” “Give Peace a Chance” and “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” to name a few. But what about the songs that didn’t make it as hits? Lennon has a number of deep-cut fan favorites that deserve a closer look. Let’s dive into 5 of them below.
1. “I Found Out” (From Plastic Ono Band)
Lennon blows away the faux prophets and revolutionaries he stuck close to for most of the ’60s in “I Found Out.” Taken from his debut solo album, the song features Ringo Starr on drums as Lennon pushes the search for enlightenment aside with a blast of distorted guitar.
Elsewhere in the song, he delivers a handful of takes on the unprecedented fame of the Beatles (I seen religion from Jesus to Paul), masturbation (Some of you sitting there with your c*** in your hand / Don’t get you nowhere, don’t make you a man) and devout religions (Old Hare Krishna got nothing on you / Just keep you crazy with nothing to do / There ain’t no guru who can see through your eyes).
2. “Crippled Inside” (From Imagine)
Though the title track from Imagine is full of hippy optimism, the second track from the record is anything but. Steeped in rockabilly flavor spurred on by a guitar solo from his fellow ex-Beatle George Harrison, the song has been widely interpreted as a dig at Paul McCartney—much like the more well-known “How Do You Sleep?” from the same album.
It also features one of the harsh, yet insatiably catchy refrains in memory: One thing you can’t hide/Is when you’re crippled inside.
3. “Intuition” (From Mind Games)
Lennon’s 1973 album, Mind Games, is chock full of downbeat, sullen tracks that came at a time his marriage to Yoko Ono was falling apart. One departing moment though comes from “Intuition,” which sees Lennon take an optimist’s point of view.
While Lennon is often known for his wry lyricism, here he offers a more earnest evaluation of music’s power to heal with lines like And when I struggle in the night / The magic of the music seems to light the way.
4. “Cleanup Time” (From Double Fantasy)
Many of the songs on Double Fantasy (1980) – Lennon’s last album before his death—referenced his embrace of fatherhood and domestic life. One such song is the underrated “Clean-up Time.” Accompanied by a full-horn section, Lennon bolsters himself and Ono as the king and queen of their very own palace—The Dakota in New York.
5. “Remember” (From Plastic Ono Band)
Recorded on Lennon’s 30th birthday, “Remember” finds him reflecting on his youth and memories that were jogged during a summer of therapy sessions overseen by Dr. Aurther Janov. After verses full of intimate lyrics, he closes things out with a classic Lennon gag. After interpolating the nursery rhyme line “Remember, remember, the Fifth of November,” the singer is abruptly cut-off by the sound of an explosion.
(Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)