"Bless You": Lennon recorded the album Walls and Bridges during a tumultuous time in his life. Separated from Ono, he moved to Los Angeles with his girlfriend, May Pang, and embarked on what he would later term the "Lost Weekend" (which lasted 18 months). While struggling with demons, particularly excessive drinking, he still managed to record a solid album. "Bless You" reveals Lennon's tender side, which occasionally surfaces in his work with the Beatles as well as solo material such as "Woman" or "Beautiful Boy." The song also represents a departure from Lennon's normal sound, as the chord progressions reflect jazz more than rock. His voice takes on a softer tone, presumably addressing Ono in lyrics such as "Restless Spirits depart/Still we're deep in each other's hearts." This underrated track contains lyrics that describes love's complications, and ends on a hopeful note: "Now and forever our love will remain."
"What You Got": Rock with just a touch of soul, the song features an uptempo beat and a popping bass line. The horns lend a hint of southern soul. But underneath the party atmosphere, and despite lines such as "Well it's Saturday night and I just gotta rip it up," undercurrents of regret and a willingness to change exist. Lennon's voice is in full rock and roll mode, hoarseness evident in lyrics such as "Oh baby, baby, baby gimme one more chance." He may like to party, but ultimately "it's such a drag to face another day." In the chorus, he concludes that "you don't know what you got, until you lose it," clearly referring to his troubled relationship with Ono. Walls and Bridges' "What You Got" is a multi-layered track in terms of meanings and musical styles, which results in a compelling listening experience.
"Beef Jerky": John Lennon, funky? Indeed, this rare instrumental pays tribute to Stax soul. The only instrumental in his official catalog, "Beef Jerky" contains a guitar riff inspired by McCartney's "Let Me Roll It." The bass line and the horns contribute to the funky sound, with Lennon paying tribute to his soul and blues background. Anyone who believes Lennon could not jam or disliked R&B should hear this fun track off of Walls and Bridges.
"Peggy Sue": To be honest, Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll album has always been slightly disappointing for me. Like Walls and Bridges, it was recorded during a turbulent period, and it shows through his sometimes shredded vocals and the album's overproduction. Lennon possessed one of the greatest rock voices in music; thus I feel he deserved better than this effort. Still, it includes some great moments (such as "Stand by Me" and "Slipping and Sliding"), and Lennon clearly enjoyed singing material close to his heart. When brainstorming names for his band, he was partially inspired by Buddy Holly and the Crickets in deciding on the name "Beatles." One of his first recordings with McCartney was a cover of "That'll Be the Day." Obviously Holly influenced Lennon, and thus he pays tribute to the legend with his cover of "Peggy Sue." Lennon evidently wanted to emulate Holly's unique vocal style, and he succeeds admirably. Just listen for the hiccups and slight nasal quality Lennon's voice takes on; listeners can immediately appreciate the deep respect he had for Holly's singing and songwriting. Lennon's joy shines through his enthusiastic performance.