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John Lennon - greatest songwriter of all time?
4 March 2016
8.33am
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sir walter raleigh
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in an interview with george martin about Good Morning Good Morning  he tlaks about the complex changes in meter that lennon pulls off without even knowing it. not to mention im only sleeping and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds  with their brilliant melody lines that stay on a single note. With john i think its the astonishing effortlessness in his chords and melodies. Paul contrasts that with his complex progressions and melody lines that make each song completely unique and interesting.

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4 March 2016
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I wonder if John really "didn't know" the time signature changes he was doing in Good Morning, Good Morning...?  Unless George Martin explicitly heard John tell him this, how could George Martin know for sure?

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4 March 2016
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I'm sure he was aware of them. He probably couldn't have told you what the time signatures were (and neither could Ia-hard-days-night-john-6) but anyone who so much as taps their foot along would notice 'Oh, this bit's different'. 

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4 March 2016
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Annadog40 said
Paul McCartney was pop a bunch of the time, that doesn't make it sappy or bad.

John seemed to think so with Hello Goodbye .

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4 March 2016
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KaleidoscopeMusic said

Annadog40 said
Paul McCartney was pop a bunch of the time, that doesn't make it sappy or bad.

John seemed to think so with Hello Goodbye .

Fun Fact: I'm not John Lennon .

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4 March 2016
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I was just making an observation of how John's opinion influenced why he wrote in a certain way. I actually agree with you. 

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5 March 2016
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@KaleidoscopeMusic  said
In songwriting, you have to look at multiple aspects. Simply put:

1. The writing.

2. The music: notes, vocals, and chords

3. Genre.

4. Personal taste.

[snip]

For the genre, well ... it's sort of based off of him. John made rock what it is or at least rock n' roll. But he also followed the rules--it's clear he valued chromatic scales and good rhythm. He's also shown to tamper in other genres but always keeping that wonderful mix.

I found your reply interesting, KM, but I have to say I think you're confusing two different things, the songwriting - which is what this thread is supposed to be about (though people seem to have highjacked the subject and turned it into another John vs. Paul, rather than consider how John stands up against other songwriters other than Paul), and the recording of the song.

The recording/performance of the song dictates the genre, and different artists may record a song in many different genres, but that doesn't change whether the song is well written. In fact, it could be argued that a song that is easily adaptable to different genres is a true beauty.

Help  was written as a ballad, but because of the job it was needed to do (the theme song to a film), they recorded it as an uptempo number. Helter Skelter  was first recorded as a slow blues jam and got turned into a blueprint for heavy metal.

There is no fixed genre to a song, only an artist's interpretation of the words and tune which fits their style.

Were we, for instance, to be discussing Leiber and Stoller here, because they were not recording artists, your argument about the genre and the recording falls to pieces. After all, something like Hound Dog starts life as this dirty blues song:

And a few years later, with no complaint from them that it was meant to be done as a blues, becomes this rock and roll classic:

So, Strawberry Fields, as The Beatles recorded it, is a psychedelic rock classic, but does that make this ska-tinged version recorded by Debbie Harry and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs not valid because they changed genre on it:

I'm no great lover of Snoop Dogg, just not my kind of music, but this cover of Gin and Juice got me to recognise he's a pretty damn good songwriter (advisory on the language in it):

How many people realise this now standard is originally a Bob Dylan song from 1997:

Who would have thought Jimi Hendrix could hear this (ignore the little bits of atmosphere added for the video):

https://vimeo.com/3277422

and turn it into this:

My point, genre is a moveable feast. Every artist will approach a song differently, fitting it to suit their style.

When talking about songwriting ability, it has nothing to do with the recording of the song, not even the recording of the song by those that wrote it, but what it is on paper (words and music) that is interpreted once or thousands of time in multiple different genres.

The writer never sets the genre, those that decide that song is so good they want to record decide on the genre that works for them.

Apologies for the long post!

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5 March 2016
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O Boogie
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^^ I'm sorry, but why other than Paul? If John's merits as the greatest songwriter of all time are being discussed, why shouldn't Paul feature in the argument, considering he is one of the most worthiest competitors?

Of course, the point is, instead of it turning into an outright argument, it can be discussed in a more mature manner, and the biggest obstacle to that is "Paul is only a soppy balladeer" nonsense.

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5 March 2016
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Paul isn't the only other song writer and their are tons of comparisons on here of them. Time to pit John against someone he hasn't been pit against 5000 times.

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5 March 2016
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Sure he isn't the only other songwriter, but if the discussion is about the greatest songwriter of all time, I don't see why shouldn't Paul be included. 

 

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5 March 2016
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Ron Nasty
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@O Boogie said
I'm sorry, but why other than Paul? If John's merits as the greatest songwriter of all time are being discussed, why shouldn't Paul feature in the argument, considering he is one of the most worthiest competitors?

Of course, the point is, instead of it turning into an outright argument, it can be discussed in a more mature manner, and the biggest obstacle to that is "Paul is only a soppy balladeer" nonsense.

Just so others know what we're on about here, this is the aside of mine that I believe you're on about:

(though people seem to have highjacked the subject and turned it into another John vs. Paul, rather than consider how John stands up against other songwriters other than Paul)

Now, I do not say Paul should be excluded from the debate, I merely point out that others should be included and discussed.

You're actually the least guilty in this thread, as back in post 7 you named two other songwriters:

Both John & Paul have had their fair share of granny shit music. And even when it comes to lyrics, Paul wasn't a Dylan or Cohen, but neither was John. In fact I think I read it somewhere that John felt that the talent that Dylan had when it came to writing poetry sort of eluded him. I don't know whether this is true, but I think I did read it somewhere.

So, that post of yours was the only one that actually named songwriters other than Paul. Not that you went into any real exploration of your thoughts on them as songwriters, and taking the chance to sing their praises as artists.

After that the thread just turns into a discussion about John and Paul being nasty to each other, and their merits and demerits as songwriters compared to each other.

I'll guess with reasonable confidence, and being prepared to be spanked and told I'm wrong, that @meanmistermustard wrote this straight after he'd been posting here.

Is Paul the only songwriter that John needs comparing with, and who needs proper discussion? And it fell into the pit of their relationship with each other, which really has nothing to do with their strengths as songwriters.

I will bring in other songwriters later. I am working on a post offline where I comment on my five favourite songwriters (one of which is Paul) and why I order them as I do, and where John comes in that line-up.

It's looking to be another long post, and I keep falling asleep, which is why I'm writing it offline.

I wasn't saying no Paul, but that discussion of other songwriters is needed to debate where John stands in the ranks of songwriters. If the discussion is only about John and Paul then it's which fans of each here believe was the better songwriter of these two.

Now I am going back to my making my argument for Mick Jagger and Keith Richards being the best songwriter of all time. a-hard-days-night-george-10

Or I may have another little sleep.

I'll try to post it later today whatever.

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5 March 2016
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Okay, this thread is supposed to have been about John being the greatest songwriter of all time. I felt that, together, Lennon-McCartney, are an unbeatable songwriting team, and felt it was a reasonable post to make here.

The OP seems to have misunderstood that post as being John vs Paul, and made some comments which were bound to rile fans (including myself).

I'm sure that this thread still has a place for Paul, but yes, it needn't be an outright argument.

As for Dylan and Cohen, I did say what I wanted to. I think their lyrics are poetry, and they beat John on the basis of that. As for music and melody, I prefer listening to Leonard Cohen's work than John's solo work. I'm not really well-versed with the technical aspect of it all, so I didn't get into all that as what I said was on the basis of preference.

Lastly, I didn't think your comment was particularly aimed at me.

 

EDIT: Okay, now that that's out of the way, I'm one of Leonard Cohen's biggest fans, and tend to think he's somewhat underrated. Does anybody else think he could be one of the greatest songwriters  of all time?

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5 March 2016
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I read the OP's posts as an attempt to get a rise out of [Paul's] fans as well, and I'm sad to say it's not the first topic of this kind I have seen posted by this member. Too many for this to be a coincidence, I'd say, and it makes me wonder what the reasoning behind it all is. Believe me, I'm a trusting person who prefers to see the good in people. We have our share of valued members who aren't afraid to light a fire under the forumpudlians, and I think that is a good thing. We may not always agree with each other on here, but I do think that in general, we're a great bunch of people who prefer to celebrate the things we have in common rather than to dwell on our differences.

I do think that posting too many messages with the same general topic (i.e. singing John's praise by tearing the other Fabs - particularly Paul - down), doesn't really serve a purpose other than to aggravate people. Like I said, we have seen some heated arguments, and that's alright. Dropping dung bombs left, right, and centre and then waiting for people to get upset, that's another matter altogether and I wish people wouldn't do that. 

I agree, though, that we are probably better off taking this opportunity to broaden the discussion to include other songwriters and to see where the parallels and differences are. I'll be the first to admit, however, that I am not familiar with that many of the songwriters people generally consider to be the greats. I am very Beatles-centric, and I never cared much for Dylan. I only know one Cohen song that I can think of. But, I think Simon & Garfunkel, as well as James Taylor would definitely count as great songwriters. Very different to John and Paul, of course, but great nonetheless. 

Whilst I am not knowledgable enough to participate in an in-depth analysis of the works of the greatest songwriters, I would very much be interested in reading such a discussion. I think that would be a great topic, actually.

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5 March 2016
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Ooh yea, Simon & Garfunkel, I forgot about them! a-hard-days-night-ringo-14

They're really good. I especially like The Boxer and Sound of Silence, but Cloudy is my favourite 🙂 & Art Garfunkel's voice is just angelic.

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5 March 2016
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If I had to choose my favourite songs of theirs, I fear I would choose the obvious ones: Sound Of Silence, I Am A Rock, and Bridge Over Troubled Water. I need to listen more to their lesser known work... a-hard-days-night-ringo-13

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5 March 2016
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Don't worry, @Mademoiselle Kitty >^..^<. @Zig, @meanmistermustard, @Joe, and I have been discussing the issue you brought up in post 53 above. We are keeping an eye on things. Thank you for voicing your opinion on the matter. An apple apple01 for you.

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5 March 2016
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Couldn't we just change this thread to an appreciation of John's songwriting? I've Got A Feeling the OP was trying to stir up some arguments with this and other threads but shouldn't we make the most of it?

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5 March 2016
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pepperland said
Couldn't we just change this thread to an appreciation of John's songwriting? I've Got A Feeling the OP was trying to stir up some arguments with this and other threads but shouldn't we make the most of it?

This can only stir if people let it stir.

 

Or just make a new thread all about appreciation of John's songwriting.

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He was trying to stir up some argument: argument on whether John is the greatest songwriter or not. I think it was a valid idea for a thread, and the negativity that was ensued was not at fault of the topic, so the topic should not be punished.

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