Is it possible to overlook a John Lennon album? The mere concept sounds preposterous. Yet Walls and Bridges (1974), the last LP Lennon lived to see hit No. 1, may qualify as overlooked five decades since its release. The album just doesn’t prompt the same sort of chatter as Lennon’s early post-Beatles releases, Plastic Ono Band (1970) and Imagine (1971).
Lennon, who once referred to Walls and Bridges as “depressing,” might have something to do with this. However, Lennon did rate side 1 track “Bless You” highly. What’s more, Lennon thought Mick Jagger took “Bless You” and made a Rolling Stones No. 1 single out of it.
John Lennon said Mick Jagger used ‘Bless You’ as the basis for the Rolling Stones’ ‘Miss You’
By the late ’70s, Lennon had taken a break from recording to raise his son Sean (born October ’75). But the Rolling Stones continued to soldier on as a band, and in summer ’78 released Some Girls. “Miss You,” that LP’s lead single, topped the Billboard charts in August. When Lennon heard it, he thought it sounded familiar.
“I think Mick Jagger took ‘Bless You’ and turned it into ‘Miss You,’” Lennon told David Sheff in 1980 (via All We Are Saying). “The engineer kept wanting me to speed that up. He said, ‘This is a hit song if you’d just do it fast.’ He was right. ’Cause as ‘Miss You’ it turned into a hit. I like Mick’s record better.”
Lennon made it clear he didn’t hold anything against Jagger and the Stones for what he believed was a swipe. “I have no ill feelings about it. I think it’s a great Stones track, and I really love it,” he told Sheff. “But I do hear that lick in it. Could be subconscious or conscious. It’s irrelevant. Music is everybody’s possession. It’s only publishers who think people own it.”
Lennon walked the walk on that front after he heard Rod Stewart’s ‘The Killing of Georgie,” which sounded an awful lot like “Don’t Let Me Down.” In that case, Stewart’s track came a lot closer to Lennon’s work than “Miss You” did to “Bless You.” But no legal action took place in either case.
‘Miss You’ remains the Stones final No. 1 in America
Though the Stones continued scoring top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the ’80s, “Miss You” remains the last No. 1 hit the group had in America. The song seemed to strike just the right chord at the moment disco was nearing its peak in popularity.
Ironically, Stones bassist Bill Wyman thought people in turn borrowed from his band’s work. “I did the [bass] riff for ‘Miss You,’ which made the song,” Wyman said in a 2002 interview with Ian Fortnam (via Rock’s Backpages). “Every band in the world copied it for the next year — Rod Stewart, all of them.”
As for Stewart, whose name popped up twice in this discussion of songs that resemble other songs, the Lennon and Stones contemporary used to think Led Zeppelin copied the Jeff Beck Group’s concept. But Zeppelin’s members laughed it off.
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