Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WWJLD Wednesday.....How do you sleep?

"How Do You Sleep?" was a pretty controversial song from JL's solo career. It's one of the first lyrical bitch slaps that I can think of and to me, the best. There have been some really good lyrical fights after this - Tupac's "Hit 'Em Up" against Biggie and Dr. Dre's "F*ck wit' Dre Day" against Eazy E are two of my favorites. But this one is the original to me. I was reading some comments on the videos for this song on the internet and it's funny how many people got angry over this song. But to me that just goes to show what a great artist JL was - even today his own emotions come through the song and make you feel what he's feeling. He was pissed off when he wrote this song directed at his ex-bandmate Paul. Each line is a dig at McCartney in a very specific way.

The story goes like this - JL was angry at Paul because Paul had written the song "Too Many People" which he later admitted did in fact include digs at JL. "How Do You Sleep?" was JL's retaliation. I find it very interesting that even George Harrison had jumped on the JL bandwagon and played lead slide guitar on this track. Did he also have some hard feelings against Paul?

If you listen to the song line by line you can pick out the obvious digs at Paul, especially if you are a Beatles fan:
  • So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise - John refers to the Beatles hit album that from what I read Paul didn't think was going to do well but ended up being one of their biggest albums
  • Those freaks was right when they said you was dead - John refers to the whole 'Paul is dead' conspiracy
  • The only thing you done was yesterday, and since you've gone you're just another day - John is calling Paul out for not having done anything good since his hit "Yesterday". And putting down Paul's first solo single "Another Day". Pretty much saying all his good songs were behind him
  • The sound you make is muzak to my ears - Having your music called muzak is never a good thing, that's like saying it's elevator music
  • Apparently when the Imagine album was originally released it came with a postcard of John holding up the ears of a large pig. This was directly making fun of Paul's album Ram where he is holding up a set of Ram horns. On the back of the Ram album there is also a picture of two beetles 'screwing', this is supposedly a 'screw you' to John - from one Beatle to another.
Paul and John later reconciled, but the music was already out there. And forever we will have this insight into their 'sibling' rivalry. Do you think JL went too far? Or can you appreciate the honesty and emotion in this song. He truly wrote from the depths of his heart and soul and what he was feeling at the time. He was hurt and angry, so he wrote about it. And to me, that's the best and most moving kind of music.....not muzak. 

So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise,
You better see right thru that mother's eyes,
Those freaks was right when they said you was dead,
The one mistake you made was in your head,
How do you sleep?
Ah how do you sleep at night?
You live with straights who tell you you was king,
Jump when your momma tell you any thing,
The only thing you did was yesterday,
And since your gone you're just another day,
How do you sleep?
Ah how do you sleep at night?
A pretty face may last a year or two,
But pretty soon they'll see what you can do,
The sound you make is muzak to my ears,
You must have learnt something all those years,
How do you Sleep?
Ah how do you sleep at night?

1 comment:

  1. Another great song! One of the great things about songwriting is you can put your honest feelings into the words. Or you can just make up stuff and then everything thinks that these are really your feelings. The only one that really knows for sure is the writer of the lyrics. John Lennon could invoke some really great discussions about his lyrics. That's a sign of a great songwriter! I think I would have to say John Lennon was one of the most talented songwriters in all of history. And I doubt there will ever be another that could equal him.