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- Posted on Oct 6th 2010 3:30PM by James Sullivan
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From 1971's 'Imagine'
John Lennon was in no laughing mood in 1971. The bitter breakup of the Beatles, antagonism toward Yoko, the atrocities of Vietnam, his increasing awareness of his own feelings of abandonment -- for the most widely revered pop star of his time, there was nothing much to smile about.
After the soul-searching material of his solo debut ('Mother,' 'Hold On,' 'Look at Me'), the 'Imagine' album featured the outward-directed diatribes of the title track and 'Gimme Some Truth.' But on 'Crippled Inside,' the second song on Side One, the Beatles' resident wit managed to have a little fun at the expense of a favorite topic -- his own psyche.
The song has the kind of jaunty, carefree attitude that would mark a lot more of Lennon's music before his death in 1980. Many of his peers (the Kinks, the Stones, Clapton) were going through an infatuation with country music at the time; for the ex-Beatle, it was a lark. While Klaus Voormann slapped an upright bass and old friend George Harrison plucked away at the dobro, guest Nicky Hopkins rooted the song in the kind of saloon piano they'd be playing when the chair-tossing brawl broke out.
Today, Lennon would be in hot water for the politically incorrect song title. Which is just one more reason to love it. As ever, the man said what he felt. "One thing you can't hide/Is when you're crippled inside," he sang again and again, cheerfully, before slowing down dramatically for the brassy finish. If he'd been hurt in childhood, he was beginning to realize he wasn't the only one.