[12] John Lennon, ‘Watching The Wheels’

John Lennon and Mark Chapman

Have you seen those Beatles t-shirts for Comic Relief? Is this what it’s come to? Is this what they fought and di…

Let’s not spoil the ending. Junior has one of the shirts, and loves it. She’s now working through The Beatles’ catalogue, always intrigued to know which of them is singing and trying to match her fresh-faced Ringo with the more louche version on her dad’s old t-shirt. When I told her this song was by one of them, she yelled, “Beatles!” and waltzed along to its easy rhythm.

‘Watching The Wheels’ was the third and final single from Double Fantasy, and the second posthumous release. It’s unbearably poignant in hindsight, and perhaps too much for a world that had done its mourning, reaching No.30 in the UK chart. He’s relaxed, singing of his comfort in semi-retirement (and bemusement at those who would call him “lazy”), “no longer riding on the merry-go-round” – and, so wastefully, he certainly wasn’t. It’s a very pretty, very Lennon tune, drifting along on his favourite chords; a far cry from the angst of Plastic Ono Band, which I listened to on the way in to work this morning, yet just as defiant.

Aged eight, I took his death badly. Lennon was an integral piece of my pop jigsaw, which began and ended with the back cover of Help!, and it felt as if a pivotal figure had gone just as I was getting to know him. It’s almost too trite, but as he signs off here with “I just had to let it go” it feels like a goodbye.

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