John Lennon: a name that will always be etched into the minds, souls, and hearts of millions of people, young and old, across the globe – and rightfully so, at that. Lennon’s musical prowess had always been present, up to his assassination in 1980, but is there proof that his legacy followed after his tragic death? The artist’s posthumous album, Milk and Honey, suggests that this is true. Released in 1984, four years after the former Beatle’s death, the album peaked on the UK, Swedish, and Japanese album charts at number three. Due to the sudden passing of Lennon, Yoko Ono (who has some of her own works on the album, just as she did on most of the albums the pair worked on together) spent three years working on finishing the album.
Lennon was known for being a poetic disaster; speaking his mind when he felt it was convenient for him, and he encouraged others to do the same as well through “bed-ins” and controversial interviews. He spoke to listeners through raspy and tight vocals and lyrics that almost always revolved around one of two things, or sometimes both: love and society. Ono and Lennon both had an equal six songs on the album, taking turns, it seemed, on projecting their innermost feelings and thoughts onto tracks in rhymes and carried out syllables.
If you know anything about Yoko Ono, you would know that she has her own unique way of singing… or howling. The exotic aura is clearly present in her works, which gives the entire album an authentic, Asian twist that very few cared for. Ono’s presence with Lennon had always sparked up some issues in pop and music culture, but by the time this album was released (especially since there had been several albums released prior to this one in particular that she was featured on as a lead vocalist) most of Lennon’s fans had gotten used to it and tolerated it.
The first time I had heard a song from the album, I was sitting in my room with the ever-so cliché fairy lights around the ceiling and Spotify was playing songs from my most frequently used ‘John Lennon Radio’ station. The song was “Nobody Told Me,” perhaps the most well-known piece from the album. The single was one of the incomplete songs due to his death and was originally recorded for former bandmate Ringo Starr for his own album, but of course never made it. As most of Lennon’s lyrics do, the words seem a bit nonsensical at first listen, but the more I listened and paid tender attention to the words, the more I understood. The line "Nobody told me there'd be days like these. Strange days indeed; most peculiar, mama," is in contrast to the saying of "My mother told me there'd be days like this."
With the exception of some almost incoherent words, provided by Yoko Ono, the album in its entirety is a legendary Lennon work, as was most of his work post-Beatles. I find myself playing the vinyl record often in a candle-illuminated room to let my mind take its own path for the thirty-six minutes and forty-nine seconds the album runs for. I fell in love with the album from the first second I heard a single note from the album, and I continue to fall in love with every piece written and sung by Lennon – no matter how many times I’ve heard the track before. He had a certain way of getting you to shut up and pay attention, all while somehow remaining as charming as can be during his gentle yet aggressive rants that he put to a tune and sung his heart out to.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.