Happy Halloween! If you’re looking for an inconspicuous trick or treat song, I suggest this hidden track from John Lennon’s 1974 Walls & Bridges LP, “Scared.” It sounds like “Scared” was a definite inspiration to Robert Smith, fifteen years later for 1989 “Lullaby” from The Cure. Opening with a howling wolf, Lennon captured the childlike fear that most people have of the dark. The ghostly sound effects from Lennon’s “Scared” reminds me of those vintage spooky sounds LP my brothers and I would spin every year on Halloween.
Chris Ingham wrote in The Rough Guide to The Beatles, describing the creepy motion picture like essence of Lennon’s song as, ““Scared” prowls with all the portent of an Orson Welles tracking shot.” Ingram is right, Lennon’s “Scared” does sound very cinematic but that wasn’t Lennon’s intention of the song. Peter Doggett discussed this in his bookThe Art of Music and John Lennon, when he wrote, ““Scared” said it even straighter, and an unabashed admission that John couldn’t survive without Yoko, though he was still trying to overcome the hatred and jealousy.”
“Sacred” recorded for Walls and Bridges during Lennon’s Lost Weekend separated from Yoko in Los Angeles and New York. The songs from 1973’s Mind Games and ‘74’s Walls & Bridges reflect the eternal longing Lennon felt while estranged from Yoko Ono. You may recognize a lyric John borrowed from his own 1965 penned Beatles hit “Help.” John Blaney, author of Lennon& McCartney: Together Alone noticed this when he wrote “Musically, Lennon restarts what he originally intended for “Help!”. Unhappy with The Beatles up-tempo treatment of “Help!” he attempted to remake in 1970 but the nearest he got to it was the moody setting he fashioned for “Scared.”
You can also hear Lennon name check “Well Well Well” from his first primal scream inspired Plastic Ono Band LP. You can tell from the slow tempo, “Scared” has that same aching feel. “I was terrified when I wrote it., if you can’t tell. It was the whole separation from Yoko, thinking I had lost the one thing I needed.” John once said talking about the events that inspired “Scared.” What’s amazing to me is that not only was “Scared” stirred from The Beatles “Help!” but according to Lennon he claimed that his Walls & Bridges song inspired a Rolling Stones hit from 1978 as he explained, “You know, I think Mick Jagger took [“Scared’] and turned it into “Miss You.” When I was in the studio, the engineer said, “This is a hit song if you just do it faster.” He was right because “Miss You” is a fast version of my song. I like Mick’s record better.”
Although written during John’s painful separation from Yoko, if you’re looking for a spooky rock and roll themed song to surprise your trick or treater’s— spin this horror themed Lennon cut this October 31st. Forget those wicked sound effects LP’s from yesteryear, “♫ No Bell, Book or Candle ♫” will be better than this John Lennon hidden treat from Walls & Bridges. Happy Halloween!