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John and time
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31 July 2011
7.57am
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GniknuS
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I have a perhaps unanswerable question in regards to John keeping time. The only quotes I can think of are when George is quoted for IWY(SSH) that when pressed, John was supposedly clueless as to actual timing, George said his timing was completely natural. Also on John's Rolling Stone interview with Jan Wener, the two are talking about the Toronto concert and John describes the group going over songs and I think they were talking about Kansas City, which has two versions, and John differentiated the two by describing the opening as 'ja-jing jing' or something like that, which isn't exactly technical. Now maybe he was just being descriptive, so that could be nothing but I haven't seem many more quotes on actual musicianship.
And there's something about 'three blind mice' in one of the interviews, it might be that one. Didn't Albert Goldman argue that he was autistic or something? I'm being slightly tongue in cheek, but is it so crazy that he had a certain type of autism that gave him God-like rhythm naturally?
He's just such a weird guy and he has described his guitar playing as all feeling. I'm certainly not trying to take anything away from John, just curious.

I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine
31 July 2011
8.04am
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McLennonSon
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15 August 2011
10.25pm
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vonbontee
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16 August 2011
8.58am
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GniknuS
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I Found Out is a perfect example of John's style, it may not be technically perfect, but it just sounds so cool, and isn't that what really matters, how cool something sounds?

I'm also not trying to cast judgement from the high horse of musicians versus non-musicians, you certainly don't have to be a guitar player to know when something sounds cool and what players are better than others. It just irritates me when negative comments are made about certain players ability because, chances are, if they are playing guitar on a record they probably have put a lot of work into their instrument and I just find it disrespectful to say someone isn't good. A few days ago, my dad was sort of making fun of Ringo, saying that he didn't do much, and this is coming from someone who's never touched a kit in his life. It just upset me because Ringo is a completely awesome drummer who is taken for granted, how many drummers have said how easy Ringo's stuff sounds until they sit down and figure out some of his patterns?

So, I don't know, I just don't like it when musicians are put down publicly by people like Albert Goldman who may have played guitar, I honestly have no idea, but it seems more likely that he was more of an "armchair guitar player" than someone who put in the time like John. Not everyone can play like Hendrix unfortunately, everyone has their own style and does the best they can, and that's what I love about John's playing, it's so true to himself.

I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine
16 August 2011
10.39am
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robert
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Anyone who says John Lennon is an average guitar player is ignorant of guitar playing. Watch a live performance of I Feel Fine and see John play those licks while singing - average guitar players can't do that.

I know of no credible musician who has ever called John an average guitar player. He isn't Eric Clapton, but remember John never joined Clapton's band - Clapton joined John's band. That tells you something right there.

"She looks more like him than I do."
24 November 2011
8.42am
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Buddyhollyland
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The Walrus said:

I have autism (well, AS, but AS is just autism without a speech delay). Whilst John showed some autistic traits (his poor responses to criticism, humour often inappropriately dark or sarcastic, lover of routine), as far as I know he didn't really have any of the major symptoms. He didn't seem to have any problems socialising, he didn't have any documented sensory issues of the right type, he didn't have meltdowns, and whilst he would be fascinated by topics, as far as I know he didn't have any fixations with particular objects beyond normal sentimentality, nor was he locked into a genuinely obsessive routine or have any qualms about changing homes fairly often.

It's possible, even likely, he was some sort of musical genius, but autistic savants aren't the only geniuses in the world.

As I've stated elsewhere on this site, I strongly believe John had bipolar disorder. I have Asperger's. I've known many musicians with either bipolar disorder or Asperger's, and I can't make John out to be autistic in any way. There are traits of autism that overlap with other conditions, including bipolar disorder. But the most telling thing is that John was a natural leader and formed the Beatles around him, in particular around his very successful working relationship with Paul. We with Asperger's would find that very challenging. I can be leader, but only if I'm pressed. But it's role I'll happily differ to someone else, because it's just so taxing for me and my lacking social skills to maintain such a role. By contrast, people with bipolar disorder often are very talented with interpersonal skills and can maintain very successful relationships with far more ease than us with Asperger's--that is, when their disorder is not severely disabling. And I haven't known a musician with bipolar disorder who wasn't a natural leader, including one my closet friends, who's been a choir director for almost 20 years straight, despite being bipolar.

 

As for John's sense of time: John could play in stricter time with more skill than he's usually given credit. It's one of the thing I love about watching him perform during the Beatles' early years--he was actually very good ensemble player, a skill he developed as a teen, and could deliver some really great rhythm guitar parts. But when he started writing more on his own, and writing songs to would not have to be performed live by the Beatles as an ensemble, his timing became looser and more free-flowing, not unlike old solo folk and blues singers. As a musician, I don't find any of this unusual, nor is it necessarily the product of John being self-taught or anything "romantic" like that--simply put, playing in loose, free-flowing time can be more musically expressive in ways that more rigid ensemble playing doesn't allow. It's just another option for a songwriter, and while not all songwriters are comfortable with it, John was and made use it in some really excellent ways.

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