Friday, March 11, 2011
Richard Furnstein: I've known you for 36 years (I still have the receipt from our "getting to know you" lunch at Beatlefest 1975 in my hope chest), so I realize that you are given to moments of misguided hyperbole. However, you may be right or at least damn close to right this time (I'm shutting off the part of my where "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Instant Karma!," and "Mind Games" live). It's a dang perfect song with my favorite guitar Beatles guitar solo. The solo is a perfect combination of technical simplicity and heavens-splitting treble tone. It's the sound of George trying to coax the lazy daydreamers from their somnambulistic state.
Robert Bunter: Well, of course that's what you would say. But think about it: this is John doing what he does best, and he does it the best he's ever done it. On one level, he's singing about society: the staid, button-down nine-to-fivers who sleepwalk through another day of life without stopping to smell the lovely odors ... so anxiously acquisitive of the pointless crumbs, they never lift their eyes to the loaf - the abundant loaf of life-bread which shines all around us in this benevolent, integrated universe. Then, of course, there's the next level: introspective, 1965-era fat Elvis-period Lennon is pondering his own lack of direction and personal self-realization. The world is at his command, yet he is empty inside. But, here's the twist: on the deepest level, he's really singing to ME! ROBERT JULIUS BUNTER!
But, also, you too. Without being judgmental (like a certain filthy Beatles guitarist and spiritual scold I could name), beautiful John gently points out that, Hey - don't we all have a little growing up to do? Maybe we all have room to improve. How does sweet John do this? I'll tell you how: by writing a gorgeous melody and having his three friends perform it flawlessly in a breathtaking display of human beauty.
Richard Furnstein: Yeah, that harmony is out-of-this-world. I think the studio recording of "Nowhere Man" was a bigger death knoll to their touring life than complicated studio creations like "Tomorrow Never Knows," deafening teenage nerds, or Imelda Marcos death threats. They could easily dodge many of those roadblocks, but the harmonies on "Nowhere Man" are the true point of no return. Sure, they played it live, and did a pretty damned good job, but it is clear that the beauty of their arrangements and approaches were being lost on the soggy brained masses.
Robert Bunter: And do you know how this song happened? Did you hear the story?
Richard Furnstein: Did I "hear" the story? Did John Lennon personally ring me up in 1973 to tell me the story of "Nowhere Man"? Did Derek Taylor send me a postcard with the story? Did Paul McCartney Skype me last week to discuss this song? You know none of those things happened. So, why don't you tell me this "story" that you half remembered from the same well thumbed source material that we both have.
Robert Bunter: Ahem. John had been sitting by his pool at Weybridge, trying for hours to write a song that would have personal and social significance and nothing was happening. He gave up and took a nap. "And I finally gave up and lay down. Then 'Nowhere Man' came, words and music, the whole damn thing as I lay down." (Lennon, 1980). I personally think, if there's a God, He's the one who really wrote Nowhere Man and gave it to John through divine inspiration. The credit should read 'Lennon-McCartney-God.'
Richard Furnstein: I do love that story, a classic from the final Playboy interviews. I expected more from you than a quick visit to http://www.wikipedia.com to confirm your facts, though. You are on notice, Bunter. Take your time, don't hurry, indeed.