I was eight years old when, 25 years ago, John Lennon was killed. I don’t remember hearing about it, and I don’t think I would have known his name if I did. My mind was on treehouses, rope swings, and what the next few hours had in store.
I never saw Lennon perform, and I haven’t even seen him on TV or in a movie. It’s still startling to hear recordings of him speak, because for most of my life—every since 7th grade when I got my first Beatles mix tape from my sister’s boyfriend—all I’ve known was his music.
But the Beatles had such an impact on me. When I felt lonely as a kid, I’d lie in bed with the lights out, listening to “Nowhere Man” and “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” I felt like I was connecting with something incredibly powerful and beautiful. It was during those dark nights, staring at the face of my illuminated alarm clock, that I fell in love with music.
And on September 11, I sat on the front lawn with some neighbors and sang “Imagine,” gazing over downtown Seattle and the empty sky. Despite all the sorrow and fear I felt that day, I was comforted that such a powerful statement for peace existed. It felt strong enough to keep my heart steady, even if the buildings fell around me.
A few days ago I came across lovely fingerstyle lesson for Lennon’s “Imagine”. I’m going to remember him today by learning it.
A veritable cornucopia of carefully crafted chord chart compositions!
Crooked Teeth – Death Cab For Cutie – I dig the guitar riff—the clean telecaster tone, even rhythm, and chromatic movement makes it sound like it should play during the credits of the latest James Bond movie.
I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab For Cutie – A lovely, lonely, love-in-the-face-of-death song with some great lines. “If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied / Illuminate the No’s on their Vacancy signs”
I Know You Well – Fountains of Wayne – “What?!” I hear you saying. “Only two Death Cab songs this update?” Well, how about a sounds-like-Death-Cab song? I like Fountains of Wayne because they can write both quiet, pretty love songs and rocking pop songs like “Stacey’s Mom.”
You Asked Me To – Alison Krauss – This is a great Waylon Jennings cover. I’ve tabbed out the song’s gorgeous acoustic guitar solo, and there’s a jam track for practicing the solo here.
Louisiana 1927 – Randy Newman – Change the name “President Coolidge” to “President Bush” and this song could have been written yesterday.
Hey Ya! – Outkast – Little Grace Noah, one of my younger students, requested this sweet hip-hop song. How cool is that? When I was in the fifth grade, I was listening to Huey Lewis and the News.
Girl’s Mind – Play – Not that Grace is immune to sweet and sticky teenie pop…
Journey to the End of the Earth – Rancid – This is just the second song I’ve heard by these guys. I dig the lyrics and rambling, conversational vocal delivery.
Same Boy You’ve Always Known – The White Stripes – A super-easy song (except for the intro lick), great for beginners. White Blood Cells is my exercise album right now.
Out on the Weekend – Neil Young – Possibly my favorite song by one of my favorite artists. Every time I hear it I think of a road trip I took across Idaho, Nevada, and California sitting in the flatbed of my college roommate’s Toyota Courier pickup.
Powderfinger – Neil Young – Most people think this is set in the Civil War—powderfinger suggests a musket, and boats don’t deliver the mail anymore. People are shooting people plenty these days, so I reckon it still applies.
Click here to view all 300 of my chord charts.
It’s snowing in the city! Snow always makes this place feel magical. In addition to checking the window every thirty seconds, the weather has inspired me to post Ordeal by Eggnog again. It’s the story of my buddy Chris and I circumnavigating Seattle on cross-country skis in January of 2004.
No guitars were involved in execution or documentation of this harrowing undertaking, but I thought you might enjoy it anyway.