Before the events of September 11, 2001 ever happened, New York City’s Come Together concert had already been planned as a tribute to adopted son John Lennon’s words & music.
When the concert finally occurred as planned on October 2nd, it was still a tribute. But with those same events still fresh in the memories of a nation, and especially in those of that city, it also took on an entirely new meaning.
All of the proceeds from the event ended up being donated to efforts to heal the pain still being felt there, and in many ways the concert also became something of a 9/11 event itself – all set appropriately to the messages of hope and peace found in the timeless songs Lennon wrote for both the Beatles and as a solo artist.
Coincidence that the use of Lennon’s music to bridge the tragedy that was still so fresh to the city he loved so much was, it also made complete and perfect sense.
Come Together: A Night For John Lennon’s Words & Music is a new DVD from Eagle Rock Entertainment’s Greatest Hits Live series that recaptures that event, which was originally filmed for a television special. With this DVD, the complete concert becomes available for the very first time, with proceeds from its sale going to the Robin Hood foundation.
At most black tie sort of events like this one, it becomes a bit easy to be cynical about the performances themselves. Everything can seem a bit too formal and a bit too slick – exactly the sort of thing that the rocker and the revolutionary John Lennon was probably deplored while he was still alive. And in all honesty, the performances here do occasionally fall into that category, such as when Marc Anthony does a very over the top, Las Vegas style take on “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”
More often though, and pardon the pun here, the performances “come together” quite nicely, and occasionally they even manage to rock, particularly in the case of a smoking Stone Temple Pilots take on “Revolution.” Give credit to musical director Dave Stewart for leading the orchestra through a set featuring a wildly diverse group of artists ranging from the Pilots to Alanis Morisette to Lou Reed to Moby, Rufus Wainwright and Lennon’s son Sean (who I discovered for the first time has a very unique voice here).
But most of all, give credit to John Lennon himself, whose songs still have that therapeutic sort of healing quality about them even all these decades later.
As for the standouts here?
Shelby Lynne delivers a particularly breathtaking take on “Mother.” Cyndi Lauper’s “Strawberry Fields Forever” (performed on location from Strawberry Fields in Central Park no less) is probably the most interesting reinvention of a Lennon classic here. Kevin Spacey’s “Mind Games” is the biggest surprise, as the actor sings it so well you can even see Yoko Ono grinning from ear to ear. The stuff with Sean Lennon, Rufus Wainwright, and Moby is also pretty damned good.
Although much of the rest is fairly pedestrian and straight forward, nothing here is really standout awful. The clips of Lennon sprinkled throughout also give this DVD a nice, sentimental feel good sort of quality. The bottom line is John Lennon’s songs are so great, it’s pretty hard to screw them up. Thankfully, for the most part anyway, the artists here don’t.
Come Together: A Night For John Lennon’s Words & Music is available at all of the usual places online and in finer music and video stores everywhere.