The generalized argument when discussing the Beatles' principal songwriters is that Paul McCartney wrote the ballads, and John Lennon penned the rockers. Upon closer inspection of his impressive discography, it’s obvious that Lennon could write a beautiful sentiment with the best of his generation’s songwriters. Not only can Lennon's love songs embrace you, but they can also bite. Compiled for the soft side of every rock and roller's heart, here are our Top 10 John Lennon Love Songs.
"Oh Yoko"From: 'Imagine' (1971)
Our list of Top 10 John Lennon Love Songs begins with the closing track from Imagine. "Oh Yoko" is a humorous but serious proclamation of Lennon’s love and dedication to Yoko Ono. A jaunty and swinging tune, with a breathless Nicky Hopkins piano line, the tune beats with a warm, positive optimism. Featuring Lennon blowing enthusiastic harp on record for the first time in years, this track's a declaration of “my love will turn you on” stretches over the churning rhythm like a sleeping cat in the sunshine. "Oh Yoko" received a renewal with its inclusion in the 1999 film Rushmore alongside other legendary rock songs.
"Bless You"From:' Walls and Bridges' (1974)
John Lennon was quoted as saying that "Bless You" was the “best track” on Walls and Bridges, and explained further in John Blaney's Listen to This book that the song was about the “love experience” that all couples go through. There is an deep aching running through the lyrics with lines like, "Bless You, whoever you are holding her now / Be warm and kindhearted" that not only ups the emotional stakes of the tune, but warrants its inclusion in this list.
"Aisumasen (I’m Sorry)"From: 'Mind Games' (1973)
This powerful song frames Lennon’s struggles with empathy, and also contains messages to Yoko Ono in her native language. A highlight of "Aisumasen (I’m Sorry)" finds Lennon singing "all that I know is just what you tell me / all that I know is just what you show me" in a chilling falsetto. Spotlighted is a virtuosic solo by Lennon pal Jesse Ed Davis.
"(Just Like) Starting Over"From: 'Double Fantasy' (1980)
This was the final single released in Lennon's lifetime, and representative of his new outlook regarding his career and relationship. "Starting Over" was meant to represent the next chapter for Lennon, as well as a directive to his friends and fans who found themselves in the same places emotionally. The undeniably catchy rock and roll song – a tribute to past rock and rollers – appeals to ears and hearts, with a solid groove and an optimistic and wistful lyric that is honest, without becoming maudlin.
"Out the Blue"From: 'Mind Games' (1973)
Featuring some of the best vocals that Lennon ever committed to tape, "Out the Blue" is an expansive and well-arranged love song hidden on the flip side of one of John Lennon's less-popular solo releases. Its ethereal acoustic opening verses, building to the emphatic chorus, combine to make it a perfect example of his state of mind in 1973. Written while experiencing his famed separation from Yoko, "Out the Blue" is proof that pain sometimes encourages the best art.
"Love"From: 'Plastic Ono Band' (1970)
This is a song that in its simplicity says more than any complex lyric could offer. Lennon sings about everything that love is, and leaves no questions for the listener as to where it originates from. Thought it could easily slide up or down this list of the Top 10 John Lennon Love Songs a couple of slots, "Love" fits just fine at No. 5, influencing all of the songs surrounding it. The close-miced vocals and delicate piano/acoustic guitar instrumentation increase the intimacy of the song.
"Oh My Love"From: 'Imagine' (1971)
Composed during same period as "Jealous Guy," this track blossomed during the early stages of Lennon and Ono’s relationship. "Oh My Love" is a direct statement of love between two people, and a comment on the extreme awakening of the senses when a relationship is fresh and new. Co-written with Yoko Ono, and spotlighting the guitar of George Harrison, "Oh My Love" benefits from the communal efforts of all involved.
"Jealous Guy"From: 'Imagine" (1971)
"Jealous Guy" underwent a long metamorphosis, changing from the 1968 Lennon composition "Child of Nature" into its fully developed state. One of his most mature piano melodies, the song reflects Lennon’s search for security and trust in his love relationship. His admission of "shivering inside" and "swallowing my pain" is countered by his eventual statement that all in all, he’s just a "Jealous Guy."
"Grow Old With Me"From: 'Milk and Honey' (1981)
Released on the posthumous album Milk and Honey and inspired by poet Robert Browning, the version that gained popularity was a double-tracked home demo that Lennon was preparing for his follow-up album to Double Fantasy. A soulful, heart-baring paean to Yoko, it's exactly perfect in its primitive state. "Grow Old With Me" is as sparse and soul-baring as anything Lennon had done since 1970's Plastic Ono Band. The song is easily recognizable for its continued use in weddings and love celebrations the world over.
"Woman"From: 'Double Fantasy' (1980)
Becoming more poignant because of its release in close proximity to Lennon’s death, "Woman" comes in at No. 1 in our Top 10 John Lennon Love Songs – but it likely arrive near the top of any love song collection. It's is an unabashed tribute and honest thank you to all of the women Lennon encountered throughout the course of his life journey. Embellished with soaring instrumentation and soothing Beatles-era Lennon vocals, the track stands as one of his best late-era compositions. Illustrating strength by showing weakness, "Woman" is Lennon’s open letter to “the other half of the sky.”