Chapter One - I'm So Tired

Chapter One - I'm So Tired

A Chapter by Nick Anthony

John cannot sleep. He is bothered by a phrase going round and round his head. grabbing his guitar he starts to turn the phrase into a song. A song inspired by recent events called - Revolution


John couldn't sleep, he didn't even want to know what time it was, maybe 3 or 4:00am? It was a muggy night, his linen shirt clung to his body, a body made leaner again by meditation, no booze, fresh air, vegetarian food and frequent attacks of the s***s. When he'd boarded that flight to Delhi all those weeks ago, photographers had captured the familiar sight of the chubby Beatle. He hated those pictures, but he also knew that he wasn't the same man now, he wasn't the bloated acid casualty anymore. Drug free (save for the occasional nocturnal joint) and away from his repetitive bingeing on the empty pleasures of clubs, parties, hangers-on and over-indulgence, John felt a renewed sense of purpose. OK, so he'd also felt the most depressed feelings of his life since his mother had been killed. OK, there had been times when he'd stood at the edge of the Ganges and seriously contemplated letting the waters just carry him away. But, if he kept himself busy he could get through it. John had been very busy, he'd written or half written the biggest batch of songs of his career in the shortest period of time, he meditated for up to 5 hours everyday and he spent a lot of his time voraciously reading the papers, reading and rereading letters, reading and writing postcards.

Right now though, John couldn't sleep, "I can't stop my brain" he'd written in a song a few days ago. He'd also written a song about feeling insecure and lonely, about wanting to die while supposedly here to learn how to find peace of mind. Loneliness was always with him. A naturally sociable person John managed to feel isolated even when he was in the company of his trusted inner circle Neil, Mal, Magic Alex and George. Meditation by its nature was a solitary pursuit and whilst it should have helped his mood, John felt that something was missing. He'd tried to apply himself to the course. John had chosen to spend the last few weeks separated from his 29 year old wife in his own quarters, ostensibly so that he could focus on his meditation practice without her incessant words flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup. But in truth he found her presence limiting to his obsession with another woman. Everyday he would get up early to run down to the campus post office and collect the almost daily torrent of letters and postcards from this new intriguing fantasy figure with the alien poetic name, Yoko Ono. Sometimes her messages were enigmatic "Fluxus event scores" with instructions like "I am a cloud, look for me in the sky", sometimes they corresponded over deep subjects and she expressed strong opinions. She was like Mimi at times, John was smitten, here was a woman articulating concepts and ideas that were opening his eyes and broadening his mind. He couldn't stop thinking about her, he just wanted to talk and talk with her and that was making him miserable and lonely. He wished he'd been able to bring her with him to this place, if only he'd found a way to keep her a secret from Cyn, a situation that had all the comic potential of a Whitehall farce; it just wasnt practical. He hated being in India while she celebrated her birthday with her husband, the thought had made him ridiculously jealous. John wasn't just jealous of her sharing special occasions though. He was well aware that Yoko was sexually liberated; after all she had staged that happening where men actually cut her clothes off. He had to face it, Yoko meant more than mental stimulation to him, the attraction was definitely physical, he wanted to possess her tiny frame, he wanted to unleash the wanton sexual creature he assumed was behind that cold, unblinking, emotionless front she put on. She'd let him see a glimpse of her softer side and he was hooked. He was hooked, he was lonely and he couldn't sleep.

This night a phrase was stuck on repeat in his head, a phrase he'd arrived at when speaking with Maharishi. They had discussed a philosophy of life that propounded whatever the problem, God would solve it. After all Maharishi had told all the Beatles "Don't worry about it" when their manager and mentor Brian Epstein had died less than a year ago. John didn't want to worry about it , he'd already had too many people die on him, not just Brian but not long before that Alma Cogan, a woman he looked to not just as a lover but as a mother figure and both their deaths had left a void in his life. A void he had all but surrendered to. As John lay on his bed trying to let go of his thoughts a phrase kept repeating itself mantra-like, like a stuck record "don't you know it's gonna be alright, don't you know it's gonna be alright" over and over it went driving him mad with its incessant rhythm. John was so tired but this sounded like it could be a song. John, got out of bed grabbed the Martin Dreadnought guitar that was leaning against the wall and sat back on the edge of the bed cross legged. He started clutching at random chord shapes, trying to twist this idea into some kind of musical shape. This was how he often worked when songs didn't just magically appear, a complete set of lyrics could be present sometimes and yet the tune would bear scant resemblance to the finished article, acting as a place holder until the real song came. John had started to think of tunes as a conduit to transport the message to the listener, in John's mind less important than words. Over and over he repeated that phrase "Don't you know it's going to be alright" changing the emphasis on key words " Don't YOU know it's going to be alright", "Don't you know it's going to BE alright", "Don't you know it's going to BE... ALRIGHT".

Here he was, miles from home and away from his hedonistic lifestyle. Here, he'd found his creativity returning to him. Firstly, he'd almost tossed off semi psychedelic fantasy nursery rhyme songs with titles like "Mean Mr. Mustard" or "Cry Baby Cry". Over time however John had consciously tried to write about his surroundings, a lecture by the Maharishi might inspire him to write a song like "Child of Nature" but it was his character studies that proved more fruitful. "Bungalow Bill" was his response to some of the party taking leave from the peace and love vibes of the Ashram to go tiger hunting, "Dear Prudence" was a gift to a disciple who took her studies far too seriously. Newer songs still were a result of his introspection, seeking to come to terms with his mother's death he wrote a song about her seemingly as an apparition. He imagined being on the beach with her as one of his fondest memories, staring at the ocean and seeking approval from her to be with this ocean child woman he was infatuated with.

"Don't you know it's gonna BE… ALRIGHT" a new slogan like "All You Need is Love" or "Have you heard the word is love", a philosophical maxim "Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream", a message to counter-culture and straight society at once. Where a few months ago he had written "Nothing's gonna change my world" his thoughts now crystalised into "We all wanna change the world". What the counter-culture wanted more that anything at this moment was to "smash the system", they wanted Revolution.

Everything in the news so far in 1968 indicated that the Beatles' generation were inheriting a rotten, stinking world, but they were fighting back. The draft in the US had sent countless young men to slaughter Vietnamese villagers in places like My Lai. There was outrage at the worldwide TV broadcasts of the summary execution of a Viet-Cong prisoner and the reports of over 500 young US soldiers killed in action in one week. Resistance to the draft was gaining momentum. In Czechoslovakia the Prague Spring saw citizens attempting to gain rights to freedom of speech and democracy in resistance to the tyranny of the Soviet Union. Martin Luther King's civil rights speeches resonated deeply with the outsider mentality of America's youth, his utopian dream of an integrated future divided the generations, but his actions changed America forever. Even in Britain riots had erupted during a protest against the Vietnam war outside the U.S embassy in Grosvenor Square. The news on this day was filled with stories of the riots across America following the assasination of Dr. King. John had devoured every story, even though Newspapers were hard to come by and when they did arrive they were several days out of date. From all that he read John sensed Revolution was inevitable.

But, John didn't see violent Revolution as the answer. He still believed that all you need is love, and that was the message he was going to spread again with this new song. "Don't you know it's gonna BE…ALRIGHT" strumming the guitar he settled on a repetitve two chord riff with a shuffling rhythm A to D. Adding a boogie hammered on note to each chord the hook of the song began to take shape. A little bit Chuck Berry via the Beach Boys, repetitive like the hook to his last attempt at scoring a Beatles "A side" Across the Universe. That song hadn't come out as he'd hoped and he blamed the indifference of the rest of the group especially Paul for not realising its potential. This time he was writing something upbeat and pleasing, this time he was going to be out front again singing his song and selling his message. John cursed himself for getting so strung out that he'd almost lost control of his own band. Things were going to change from now on, he was back and they weren't going to like it one bit.

The opening words to a verse started to emerge, "You say you want a revolution, we all want to change the world" John kept up the same two chord backing looking for way to fit the words to the chords. Borrowing a line from the chorus he extended the phrase "Don't you know we all want to change the world" the meter of the verse was awkward and lopsided, after two bars of 4 beats the song lurched for one 2 beat bar before continuing. John liked the effect although he didn't fully understand what was causing it. John often referred to his sense of rhythm as a bit wild. Ringo complained during sessions that he was having to drum in different time signatures in the same song. They always found a way to make it work though. "We Can Work it Out", "She Said, She Said", "Good Morning, Good Morning" all jumbled up rhythms in 3/4, 2/4 and 4/4 time so effortlessly that few people noticed. So it was with this new song, to John's mind he was fitting the tune to the words he wanted to say, the fact that this made the song instantly memorable was just a result of his craftsmanship. The first two lines came easily. The obvious rhyme to revolution was evolution and this lead to a restatement of the phrase "we all want to change the world" this time ending the line on an E chord to give to song a sense of motion.

With a chorus complete and a verse with a clear theme now established John looked for a way to join the two together. His go to chords C#m and Bm didnt lead anywhere satisfactory but another favourite F#m sounded like it had potential. He knew the lyrics needed a link between the sentiments of the verse and the reassurance of the chorus. Head bowed over the guitar he lighly strummed the F#m chord savouring each note, oscilating back to the E chord searching for the missing link listening to the notes decaying against the sounds of the nocturnal creatures outside.

© 2019 Nick Anthony

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Added on March 18, 2019
Last Updated on March 18, 2019
Tags: Beatles, John, Lennon, Yoko, Ono, Prudence, Dear, Revolution, Cynthia, Meditation, india, rishikesh, McCartney, Starr, Harrison


Nick Anthony
Nick Anthony

chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom

50 something now. Singleton, Father of 3. Musician and Beatle fanatic more..

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A Chapter by Nick Anthony