The Beatles had their first British hit (Love Me Do) in 1962. Eighteen years later, one half of their timeless writing partnership was assassinated in New York City. Amazingly, it has now been twenty-nine years since John Lennon's death, but his impact on popular music is still profound. To commemorate this tragedy, top Philadelphia singer-songwriter Chris Kasper has recorded a cover of Lennon's "Mother" and posted it to his Myspace page.
The Beatles group and solo influence is so diverse, with everyone from heavy metal to country acts drawing inspiration from their catalogue. Acoustic music aficionados can point to such song's as "Blackbird" and "Cry Baby Cry." They would also do well to look to the first solo albums by both Lennon and McCartney. McCartney's eponymous effort is a stripped down offering that produced such classics as "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "That Would Be Something"; it's no coincidence that this album was the most heavily featured in McCartney's landmark appearance on the MTV series Unplugged.
Lennon's debut solo album (discounting experimental earlier offerings) was the brilliant Plastic Ono Band LP. Featuring Ringo Starr on drums and Klaus Voormann (designer of the Beatles' Revolver cover and a friend of Lennon's since the band's Hamburg days) on bass, the album was a raw and personal effort, heavily influenced by Lennon's experiments with primal scream therapy. Plastic Ono Band features an acoustic player's favorite in "Working Class Hero" and the sublime "God" before culminating in "Mother."
"Mother" is a deeply personal exploration of Lennon's feelings towards his mother, who died in 1958 (two years after McCartney lost his own mother, a shared experience that would bond the two young musicians). Kasper's version of the song looks more toward the version on Lennon's anthology, forsaking the album version's driving piano for a more subtle acoustic guitar. The result is a subdued but still powerful tribute to the great songwriter by one of the preeminent names of the Philly acoustic music scene.
Listen to it while you can: myspace.com/chriskasper.
Upcoming Kasper gig in Philly:
December 26th at the Tin Angel (with the Great Unknown)