Sunday, January 19, 2020

#15 John Lennon (+ Flaming Lips bonus)

After a month hiatus (sorry 'bout that), our journey through the 1991 MusiCards set picks back up with John Lennon at card #15. Here he is flashing a peace sign in front of an old brick building. Can't quite read what the pin on his lapel says, but I'll assume it reflects an anti-war sentiment.

Hey, it's the first card in the set that features a variation!!

The variation flips the photo and moves the Super Stars logo box down to the lower right from the top left. The teal "Legend" bubble moves from near the bottom of the photo to up in the top border. My copy has some surface wear (scuff across his chest), so I'd like to upgrade it at some point. (Please let me know if you've got one to trade.)

Here's a gif comparing the 2 variations
According to TCDB hearsay (no image provided to corroborate), there's a third variation where John's left hand is giving the peace sign (as in the 1st card) and the logo is in the lower right (as in the 2nd card), but again there's no physical evidence of this and some have questioned if it actually exists. It probably doesn't. Hey, if you've got one of those, please let me know, send me a pic, and I'll make the update here. Otherwise, we'll assume that's just bullshit and there are really only two versions of this card. (No other MusiCard has more than 2 known variations.)

I'm a big Beatles fan, yet I had never heard of the 1988 Imagine soundtrack (not to be confused with his 1971 album by that name) nor the 1990 Lennon box set. But there have been no shortage of compilations of his music since this card came out, with remasters and rarities, which have surely built on and surpassed those two collections.

Here's the video for the 1991 update of "Give Peace A Chance" referenced in the second sentence on the back of the card. This version was credited to Peace Choir (spearheaded by Yoko Ono and Lenny Kravitz) and was originally released February 1, 1991. Lots of big names in there. I still remember when this premiered on MTV. Wasn't quite as big of a deal as say the similar all-star charity effort of "We Are The World", but I think it still had a strong positive impact.

Funny enough, this is the only true Beatles-related card in the entire main (US) MusiCards set. The UK edition has a Beatles card, however, plus a Julian Lennon card.. but that's it. I've already made a George Harrison custom, and will likely eventually whip up separate cards for Paul and Ringo.

John Lennon - "Instant Karma!"

I don't think I could pick a favorite between John and Paul.. they've both got a ton of songs that I love. From a personality standpoint, Paul would probably be more fun to hang out with, as John had a reputation of being a bit of a miserable asshole much of the time. But damn it if he didn't come up with some of music's all-time greatest songs during his tragically too short life.

I was too young to be affected by his murder, so by the time I "discovered" the Beatles (and non-children's music in general) around the mid 80s, he was already long gone. Such a huge bummer, though. I'd like to think there's an alternate universe somewhere with an elderly John Lennon still cranking out a solid album every few years, like Paul.

My main introduction to Lennon's solo work was when my mom bought the 1989 reissue of The John Lennon Collection, a greatest hits CD, during a brief Columbia House music club stint where she added several CDs to our household music collection. "Instant Karma!" and "Imagine" were my favorite songs then, and I suppose the same is still true today, though I've since dug deeper into his post-Beatles work and have found several more tunes I really like.

"Watching The Wheels" (acoustic) - John Lennon

John Lennon - Desert Island Disc

If I were to round up my favorite John Lennon solo tracks onto one CD/playlist, it'd probably look something like this:

  1. Instant Karma
  2. Working Class Hero
  3. Beautiful Boy
  4. Real Love (demo)
  5. Gimme Some Truth
  6. Nobody Told Me
  7. Mind Games
  8. Bring on the Lucie (Freda Peeple)
  9. Mother
  10. I Found Out
  11. Isolation
  12. God
  13. #9 Dream
  14. How Do You Sleep?
  15. Whatever Gets You Thru The Night
  16. I'm Stepping Out
  17. Cold Turkey
  18. Woman
  19. Imagine
  20. Watching the Wheels (acoustic version)


I think my favorite cover of a John Lennon song is the Flaming Lips' chaotic rendition of "Nobody Told Me" from the mid 90s. I remember when it first came out on a tribute album called Working Class Hero that my buddy got an advanced promo CD of. Crazy to think that when that came out, it was closer to when Lennon died (15 years passed) than the length of time between when that tribute CD came out and today (25 years). Just yet another "make you feel old" moment.

I was planning to forgo a "custom corner" bonus section of this post, mainly because I'm ashamed/frustrated I've taken so long between posts and didn't want to drag it out any further. But screw it, I've already brought up the Flaming Lips, a band heavily influenced by John Lennon, so let's go ahead and whip them up a custom.


Flaming Lips 1991 MusiCards-That-Never-Were
The Flaming Lips broke through to the mainstream with their wacky hit "She Don't Use Jelly" in late 1993, though they had been around since the early 80s, and are still at it today despite not having another U.S. Billboard Hot 100 hit since. Coming out of OKC, they are a wonderfully weird band who've done stuff like release a song that is 24 hours long, as well as release an EP "on a flash drive embedded in a bubblegum-flavored fetus made of gummy bear material."

I'm a big Lips fan, especially their output from the early 90s through the early 00s. I've seen them live once-- 11/19/2000 at 4th & B in San Diego-- and they always go all-out putting on a spectacle. I remember lots of balloons and confetti. Fake blood also.

It'll be tough culling my favorite songs of theirs down to just 20 or so tracks, but I'll give it a shot...

[...gavin goes and tries to narrow down his top 20 favorite Lips songs...]

Ouch, ok-- no, I'm not. Too tough! They've got a streak of 7 consecutive albums that I love and think are nearly perfect from start to finish:

Those albums are all classics in my book. So I think I'll try coming up with a list of my favorite Lips songs that aren't included on any of those 7 albums.

THE FLAMING LIPS - DESERT ISLAND DISC excluding their albums from 1990 thru 2002

  1. Jets Part 1
  2. Jets Part 2 (My Two Days As An Ambulance Driver)
  3. The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song (edit)
  4. Vein of Stars
  5. Haven't Got A Clue
  6. The W.A.N.D.
  7. Blow Job
  8. Up Above the Daily Hum
  9. 1000 Ft. Hands
  10. Ma, I Didn't Notice
  11. Tubthumping [Flaming Lips remix of Chumbawamba song]
  12. It Was A Very Good Year [Sinatra cover]
  13. Sun Arise [Alice Cooper cover]
  14. Nobody Told Me [Lennon cover]
  15. Life on Mars? [Bowie cover]
  16. The Golden Path (edit) [with Chemical Brothers]
  17. Headphones Theme From Seemingly Infinity [Steven Drozd]
  18. The Switch that Turns Off the Universe
  19. We Can't Predict The Future
  20. It Remained Unrealizable

Flaming Lips - "The Switch that Turns Off the Universe"

Yeah, that'd work for me as a companion 8th cd to go along with the 7 albums previously mentioned.

Any feelings on John Lennon to share? Favorite songs of his? Or how about the Flaming Lips? Let me know in the comments if you wanna.


  1. Good looking Flaming Lips card and good post.

  2. The button John is wearing says "Listen To This Button." It was part of the marketing campaign for the Walls And Bridges album; there were also "Listen To This Sticker" stickers and "Listen To This Poster" posters and such. You can get a better look at it here: If you look carefully, you can see that the version of the card you show first has the negative backward (look at the capital L).

    Your playlist gets big points for including "Bring On The Lucie (Freeda People)" which is probably my favorite song from his solo career and definitely overlooked. It's not even on the Amnesty International Lennon tribute album, when it would be so perfect for the theme. (There are two versions of "Imagine" on that album--Avril Lavigne would have been SOOOOO much better off doing "Bring On The Lucie"!)

    But, OK, I'm probably too much of a Beatles fan for the level of interest most readers of this will have.

  3. Yeah, no thanks on the Flaming Lips, they've always been a bit too out there for me.

    I remember news of John Lennon's death very well. I found out about it at 6 in the morning, bundling newspapers before going out on my paper route, it was right there in huge letters on every newspaper. I was pretty bummed because "Just Like Starting Over" had just been released and I really liked it and had gone out and bought the 45.

    My favorite Lennon song from when I was a kid is No. 9 Dream. I don't know what it is now, I've kind of moved on from the Beatles and their solo work. Still love them but don't play it much anymore.

  4. "And we all shine on! Like the moon, and the stars, and the sun!" - That refrain always gets me! I can't help but turn the volume knob up just a bit when when it plays...

  5. I was only a kid when Lennon was killed, but I watched the evening news every night with my family... so I'm sure I heard about it. As for his music... I've always been more of a McCartney guy when it came to The Beatles. But if I had to pick a favorite of his, I'd go with Norwegian Wood.