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"Yer Blues"

Categories: Beatles songs


Yes I'm lonely.
Wanna Die...

"Yer Blues" throws a pretty devastating damper on the frivolities of the preceding White-nosed party. There's always a comedown off the coke — and the smack don't do nothin' for your sense of security, either.

The rest of the boys promptly whisked John away to the seclusion of the broom cupboard (or 'Studio Two Annex', as it was officially known) to try and get him sorted.

In actual fact, "Yer Blues" was recorded a week-or-so before "Birthday", having already been acoustically trialled at George's place — and its origins went back still further, to Rishikesh. Lennon was well aware of the twisted irony: 'Up there, trying to reach God — and feeling suicidal.'

At least one renowned Beatleologist has written this track off as 'a parody'. Indeed, JL himself proposed it as an excuse, should the track have come in for any critical flack.

He never needed to use it: and in a dead dog's eye was this a send-up, say I! John had been cryin' out for "Help!" fer long enough fer everybody to know it was fer real. And he bares his soul here even more explicitly than his body on the Two Virgins sleeve.

Blam — there it is again, just in case you missed the point:

Yes I'm lonely.
Wanna Die...

(If I ain't dead already,
Girl you know the reason why!)

And if you do, would you mind reminding me just what it was, please?

So there he was, sat up a mountain. Cynthia was flitting around somewhere, 'cos he'd had to take her; though he'd really wanted to take Yoko — but he wasn't gonna get himself into no Crosbyesque "Triad" set-up, no thank you very much.

Mornin', evenin' or middle of the night: don't fuckin' matter —

Wanna Die...

I'm pretty convinced that Mr Lennon was sitting up that mountain just as much as in the hope of trying get his head clear enough to make some serious decisions as he was to have it blown away even further by some great cosmic revelation. After all, he already knew he was

Of the Universe —
And you know what it's worth.


Wanna die...

By the time the song got to be recorded, he'd voted with his feet — or some other part of his anatomy — on the 'which woman' question, leaving Cyn in the mansion with Julian and moving into Ringo's old London pad with Yoko. And so, he'd finally got round to making a decision. But now he had the guilt-trip to deal with — all of it making front-page news, and none of it making particularly pleasant reading.

As mentioned, he was also becoming increasingly dependent on heroin as his chosen means of taking the edge off the situation. I suspect he'd been dabbling for a while pre-India, but had got into it big-time when he got back and the shit really hit the fan.

So now he was a junkie as well — yet another reason to despise his life.

Bob's Thin Man walks into the ballad off of Highway 61: but with a razorblade in his hand in place of his customary pencil. "Something is happening here, and you do know what it is — don't you, Mr Ono?"

What's happening is blackness, blue mists. But there's worse to come:

I feel so suicidal,
Even hate my rock 'n' roll!!!

Now, yer mates are yer mates, however strained yer relationship might be — and when yer mates in this case happened to be The Other Three Beatles, well; they couldn't be havin' none of that, now could they?

So, there they were, all squashed into the cupboard under the stairs, trying get Johnnie Moondog straightened out a little bit. All Four Beatles, all together, no-one else — well, Uncle George, but that was OK — doing some serious music therapy.

Instrumentally, this is no mere parody of 'The Blues', either. Unlike the tried 'n' tested Rolling Animalyard style Britblues scene, Yer Liverpool Blues was not just a case of dredging of the waters of the Mississippi and diluting them with a little soul.

Neither did it try to sterilize and sanify them like most of the the Newblues heroes seemed to be doing round that time.

Yer Mersey Blues is deep, choppy and murky: don't go paddling unless you're willing to be pulled in by the undertow. And if you don't already know it, do check out that chilling Cast Iron Delta version from the Kinfauns sessions.

John did manage to get one of those newboys to muddy up the waters a little at the Rock 'n' Roll Circus, but the Dirty Mac take was little more than a case of going through the motions: as are so many of those all-star outings. No one on stage was really doing anything they hadn't done a hundred times before, apart from doing it with each other — and apart from Keef touting the bass. Musically, John 'n' Eric got it together better for Live Peace In Toronto — but then there's Yoko's 'backing vocal' to deal with...

Nope — it's the Beatles' version which picks yer eye and licks yer bone. Lennon went on to play with some great guitarists, but no one ever read him like George Harrison did: and vice versa. Throwing the the inter-line fills backwards and forwards between them like a hot potato, their thousand percent empathy here would be sublime if the whole scene weren't so hellish. Then there's that shared solo: sometimes commenting on the harrowed vocal, others simply echoing it — then just letting rip and raunching it up royally.

And Paul on bass and Ringo on drums: what can y'say? Enormous! Equally locked in, never tied down.

There y'go, John, mate: you don't really hate yer rock ´n´roll, now do you?!!

Well, feeling better enough to only have the lonely death wish comin' through one channel for the final fade-out...

Ringo has more than once cited "Yer Blues" as his all-time favourite 'shake-out of the jams'. It's hard to disagree.

John never got it so filthy again till he went "Cold Turkey" the following year, once again counting on Clapton to help him get that particular part of his mess out of his system. And Ringo was still around to lend him a hand when he shook out a few more demons on his first solo album once The Dream was definitively over.
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