Few songwriters left behind a catalog as artistically rich yet broadly beloved as John Lennon’s. Though his solo career was tragically cut short in 1980, Lennon crafted era-defining hits both with The Beatles and his solo that still captivate listeners today. Here are ten compositions representing the pinnacle of this rock iconoclast’s peerless musical brilliance.
image courtesy: Instagram/johnlennon
15. “#9 Dream”
An atmospherically lush soundscape drenched in echo and dreamy textures, this sensuous track off 1974’s Walls and Bridges revealed Lennon’s appreciation for surrealism. The Apex of his “lost weekend” creativity, its oneiric vibe captivates.
14. “Instant Karma!”
It was a piano-led solitary single that oozed focused intensity and combined philosophical concerns about cause and effect with the immediate primacy that its title suggested. Even though it was released only a few months after the breakup of The Beatles, it confirmed John Lennon’s bold artistic energy as a new solo artist.
A tender acoustic ode written for his late mother Julia, this stripped-down White Album ballad featured profoundly personal lyrics exploring longing and loss. Its simplistic yet poetic depth demonstrated Lennon’s evolving emotional transparency.
Released as the B-side to “Hey Jude,” this gritty, guitar-driven blast of political defiance perfectly captured the social upheaval of 1968 as well as Lennon’s stubbornly independent streak. Its provocative question, “You know it’s gonna be alright” still lingers.
11. “Across the Universe”
This Let It Be gem represented John Lennon’s most serious and introspective songwriting, and it earned its cosmic title through sheer creativity. The musical composition had beautiful lyrics that ruminated on the wonders of existence, floating above lush psychedelic tapestries of sound.
10 “A Day in the Life”
Lennon’s philosophical lyrics over symphonic crescendos displayed his boundary-pushing creative imagination, which is still unsurpassed in popular music fifty years later. These lyrics were the culmination of Sgt. Pepper’s formidable ambition.
9. “(Just Like) Starting Over”
Featuring catchy guitar licks and melodies that transformed love and happiness into sonic rapture, the jubilant lead single for Double Fantasy was a prime example of John Lennon’s unending pop prowess.
This raw piano-driven Plastic Ono Band closer featured Lennon boldly confronting his disillusionment through starkly delivered lyrical declarations like “I just believe in me.” The minimalism coursed with honesty.
7. “Norwegian Wood”
During the 1960s, this Rubber Soul highlight was a pioneer in the field of nuanced storytelling in pop music. The song included introspective lyrics that detailed an ambiguous adultery and was set to creative Indian instrumentation.
The title track off 1965’s kinetic movie soundtrack found Lennon candidly pleading for support—a revolutionary move for a male rock star back then. Its crisp acoustic guitar picking and swelling harmonies made such naked neediness resonate.
5. “Jealous Guy”
A perfect encapsulation of both Lennon’s transparency and musical sophistication, this vulnerable piano ballad from Imagine shows emotional candor merging seamlessly with compositional beauty.
4. “Come Together”
Mixing bluesy swagger and psychedelic wordplay, this Abbey Road opener showed Lennon’s inventiveness even amidst growing Beatles’ discord. Its funky rhythmic propulsion and cryptic lyrical snapshot proved indelible.
The utopian title track off Lennon’s beloved 1971 album became an enduring solo anthem and call for world harmony. Its gently rippling piano and search for universal human connection crystalized his songwriting greatness.
2.”In My Life”
Lennon captured nostalgic romanticism at its best in this Rubber Soul standout. With an unmatched emotional directness, his poignant lyrics recounted special memories and past relationships over gorgeous baroque instrumentation.
1. “Strawberry Fields Forever”
This psychedelic masterpiece exemplified The Beatles at their creative peak, with Lennon’s evocative lyricism matched by enveloping musical experimentation. From Mellotron flutes to reversed tape loops, it revealed new sonic possibilities in pop.