25 John Lennon Fans Sing His Album, Working Class Hero, Word for Word, and Note for Note

A work­ing class hero is some­thing to be
If you want to be a hero well just fol­low me

- John Lennon, “Work­ing Class Hero

Artist Can­dice Bre­itz knows that a true fan’s con­nec­tion to a beloved musi­cal artist is a source of pow­er, how­ev­er lop­sided the “rela­tion­ship” may be.

Favorite albums are touch­stones that get us through good times and bad.

They pin us to a par­tic­u­lar place and time.

There are patch­es when it feels like a singer we’ve nev­er met is the only one in the world who tru­ly knows us. Just ask your aver­age teenag­er.

A dime will net you dozens upon dozens of Bea­t­les fans, but a per­son who knows all the words to John Lennon / Plas­tic Ono Band, the 1970 solo album that fol­lowed hard on the heels of the Fab Four’s break up inhab­its a far more rar­i­fied stra­ta of fan­dom.

That per­son has earned the man­tle of tried-and-true John fan.

And 25 of those earned a spot in Breitz’s 2006 “Work­ing Class Hero (A Por­trait of John Lennon),” above, a mul­ti-chan­nel sin­ga­long of the afore­men­tioned John Lennon / Plas­tic Ono Band.

As with Breitz’s pre­vi­ous por­traits of Bob Mar­leyMadon­na, and Michael Jack­son, the singer is the ele­phant in the room, the only voice absent from the choir that forms when the par­tic­i­pants’ solo record­ing ses­sions are played simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, as they are in the fin­ished piece.

Recruit­ed by notices in papers through­out the UK, includ­ing the Liv­er­pool Echo, the fans’ degree of devo­tion, as evi­denced by their respons­es to an in-depth ques­tion­naire, mat­tered far and above train­ing, tal­ent, or appear­ance:

I want peo­ple who’ve been fans for 30 years or more, who aren’t shy in front of a cam­era and want to pay trib­ute to John Lennon.

We’d love some Scousers, it would be a great pity not to have a group of Liv­er­pudlians.

Those who made the cut were reim­bursed for trav­el to a record­ing stu­dio at New­cas­tle Uni­ver­si­ty, and filmed wear­ing their own clothes, free to emote or not as they saw fit. Some may have  fall­en shy of the “30 years or more” require­ment, and indeed, may not even have been born at the time of Lennon’s 1980 mur­der.

Just more proof of this legend’s stay­ing pow­er.

Their sta­mi­na is to be con­grat­u­lat­ed. It’s no easy feat to open with “Moth­er,” a lit­er­al scream­er born of Lennon’s for­ays into Pri­mal Ther­a­py.

And the ten­der­ness they bring to qui­eter num­bers like “Love” and “Hold On” is touch­ing indeed. It’s not hard to guess who they’re singing to.

(It’s also real­ly fun to wit­ness them fum­bling through “Hold On”’s ad-libbed “cook­ies,” a salute to Cook­ie Mon­ster that also harkens to the child­hood regres­sion Lennon under­went as part of his Pri­mal Ther­a­py.)

Read­ers, if you were giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­tribute to one of Can­dice Breitz’s com­pos­ite celebri­ty por­traits, who would you want to pay trib­ute to, liv­ing or dead?

Relat­ed Con­tent:

30 Fans Joy­ous­ly Sing the Entire­ty of Bob Marley’s Leg­end Album in Uni­son

Hear the Orig­i­nal, Nev­er-Heard Demo of John Lennon’s “Imag­ine”

John Lennon’s Report Card at Age 15: “He Has Too Many Wrong Ambi­tions and His Ener­gy Is Too Often Mis­placed”

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inkyzine.  Join her in NYC on Mon­day, Octo­ber 7 when her month­ly book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domaincel­e­brates the art of Aubrey Beard­s­ley. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.


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