You May Say I'm a Dreamer
October 8, 2010 6:53 AM   Subscribe

He was born 70 years ago. Killed almost 30 years ago. Museums around the world are celebrating his legacy. His Google Doodle isn't live in the US yet but you can see it on Google UK. And oh, yea...the FBI is still interested in him too.
posted by morganannie (163 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yeah, being in Japan and all, I saw his the Google doodle a couple hours ago.

Wish he was still here, I tell you, celebrating his 70th. I think that he'd be a fabulous 70 year old man. Here's to you, John, my childhood inspiration.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:59 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have never considered myself a huge Beatles fan. As it turns out, not being a "huge fan" still entails visiting the Beatles museum in Hamburg, knowing by heart the lyrics to at least half of their songs, and choosing the Fab Four as the obvious choice in the "if you could only listen to one band for the rest of your life" contest. Tonight's a night for gratuitously noisy Beatles Rock Band, for sure.

.
posted by lauranesson at 7:06 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I remember the day he died like it was yesterday.

.
posted by spilon at 7:09 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mildly creepy that "the world shall live as one" is oligopolistic Google's choice for the coda?

disclaimer: I work for Bing. I don't, of course, speak for them.
posted by willF at 7:11 AM on October 8, 2010


Ok...jump all over me for this :
John is being elevated to sainthood and is romanticized as though he were Jesus. In fact, such adoration instead of simple appreciation of his musical accomplishments and genius is, for me, maudlin. As for the FBI, they are simply trying to discover who stole materials from them and they are not going after him even though he is dead..
posted by Postroad at 7:12 AM on October 8, 2010 [11 favorites]


I was living in Los Angeles at the time John Lennon died. On my way to work I noticed newspapers bearing a headline in an enormous, end-of-the-world font, announcing THE DREAM IS OVER. This momentarily threw me into a bizarre solipsistic state, wondering if my entire life had actually been a dream from which I was about to awaken. It may have been the strangest moment of my life.

My favorite Lennon song is "God" which I consider to be a work of astonishing genius. And of course, that is the very song from which that peculiar newspaper headline was taken.
posted by grizzled at 7:12 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lester Bangs, “Thinking the Unthinkable About John Lennon” (11 Dec 1980)
posted by koeselitz at 7:16 AM on October 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


John is being elevated to sainthood and is romanticized as though he were Jesus. In fact, such adoration instead of simple appreciation of his musical accomplishments and genius is, for me, maudlin.

i wouldn't disagree with that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:17 AM on October 8, 2010


This is not the John Lennon post I was hoping for.
posted by swift at 7:18 AM on October 8, 2010


i wouldn't disagree with that.

I don't think the man himself would disagree with that.
posted by blucevalo at 7:19 AM on October 8, 2010


Here is "God" (ignore the video)
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:20 AM on October 8, 2010


GOOGLE JON, PAUL!
posted by blue_beetle at 7:21 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't know what is more pathetic, the people of my generation who refuse to let their 1960s adolescence die a natural death, or the younger ones who will snatch and gobble any shred, any scrap of a dream that someone declared over ten years ago.

Mr. Bangs, 1980 was nothing.
posted by blucevalo at 7:22 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


We're dotting people who died 70 years ago now?

I flipping hate John Lennon. An average songwriter who got lucky and pulled a bunch of stupid boomer tricks. Changing the world by staying in bed? That maybe flew back in 1973 or whenever, but it's pretty obvious it was a stupid self-serving publicity stunt. The same with that being naked thing.

Don't even get me started on his stupid drug-addled doodles. That's not art, it's an example that fame will impart even the most hackneyed self-obsessed scrawls with extra gravitas.

He was an idiot, and it depresses me that out of all the people we could choose from that time, as a culture we seem to have chosen him.
posted by seanyboy at 7:23 AM on October 8, 2010 [14 favorites]


My favorite Lennon song is "God"

Very beautiful song.

My favorites are "Mother" and "Jealous Guy".

I am so thankful to my father for introducing me to the Beatles and John Lennon. My mother was pregnant with me when Lennon was murdered. My dad remembers it as one of the saddest days of his life.

When I was in High School my dad got a personalized license plate on his new Mustang: #9 Dream.
posted by morganannie at 7:25 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was an idiot

Now that... nah, i wouldn't agree with that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:25 AM on October 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


John is being elevated to sainthood and is romanticized as though he were Jesus.

Actually, he's more popular than Jesus.
posted by rocket88 at 7:25 AM on October 8, 2010 [27 favorites]


There is no way to estimate the impact the man had on our culture, and on my life in particular. He was a conflicted individual who had some unsavory personal tendencies, but his music and lyrics transcended the all-too-human person.

I can't even fathom the last 50 years without his contributions to the world. I can't fathom who I would have turned out to be without the Beatles. Thank you, John.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:25 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Changing the world by staying in bed? That maybe flew back in 1973 or whenever, but it's pretty obvious it was a stupid self-serving publicity stunt.

I think the point was to raise the awareness of the general public not change the world. Either way idiot he was not. He was a human with flaws and contradictions just like everybody else.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:27 AM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


We're dotting people who died 70 years ago now?

Not sure. What does it have to do with John Lennon, who died 30 years ago?

I flipping hate John Lennon.

We're all so very pleased for you.
posted by aught at 7:29 AM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


He was an idiot, and it depresses me that out of all the people we could choose from that time, as a culture we seem to have chosen him.

Ah ..... the predictable and reliable thread-shit.
posted by blucevalo at 7:29 AM on October 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


John Lennon was a bloke who could write a good song or two. Then he did Tony Montana-esque quantities of coke and started believing all those stories his sycophantic hangers-on were spouting about him being a Holy Man of Peace And Love, and his songwriting turned to tepid bilge like "Imagine".

One wonders whether, in a parallel universe, Lennon became a Jim Jones/Charles Manson-esque cult leader.
posted by acb at 7:32 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


My dad remembers it as one of the saddest days of his life.

I was 23. I was in Benin City, Nigeria, had been for a month or so before Lennon was killed. Went to a university office one day, a place that was collecting my mail for me. Saw a Newsweek magazine on a table in the lobby. Not one which was announcing the news of his murder, but rather one from a week or two later. I read the letters to the editor section, and saw one or two about how terrible it was, what had happened to Lennon. Quickly put two and two together, and learned he'd been assassinated. I was, to say the least, shocked and devastated. Really shocked, really devastated.

Went back "home" to the family I was living with: a Nigerian man and his two wives and children, my gracious hosts in Nigeria. Immediately said to him: "I just found out John Lennon was killed!" He said: "Who is John Lennon?"

That put a certain global perspective on things.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:34 AM on October 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


John is being elevated to sainthood and is romanticized as though he were Jesus.

Actually, he's more popular than Jesus.


Well he was, then the Boomers hit their 40's and joined (became) the religious right.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:35 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I flipping hate John Lennon.

You know what? I stay the fuck out of threads about Broadway musicals.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:35 AM on October 8, 2010 [38 favorites]


Almost 30 years ago...don't remind me. He was killed on my birthdate. =(
posted by maryr at 7:35 AM on October 8, 2010


One wonders whether, in a parallel universe, Lennon became a Jim Jones/Charles Manson-esque cult leader.

In that universe, Charles Manson became a rock star.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:39 AM on October 8, 2010


I grew up in the 60's, not yet old enough to really enjoy the decade, but some of the music penetrated my childhood, and most of it was from the Beatles. I have alot of specific associations from that period.

It's taken me longer than most people to really develop and explore my own musical tastes, with the result that I'm spending alot of time reviewing and getting into older music that I didn't appreciate fully the first time around. My significant other gave me the remastered Beatles set (stereo one) for Christmas, and I've spent quite a bit of time with it this year.

The Beatles were actually pretty good. It's taken me this long to get past the hype and listen to the music.

(Cringe if you will; I think that most of post-Beatles McCartney music is pretty good. With some glaring exceptions)

Yes I remember exactly where I was when Lennon was shot.

When I'm wallowing in self-pity about being middle-aged, I often marvel that I've lived 13 years longer than John Lennon got to. And I don't have a scrap of music or writing to show for it.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:41 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


rocket88: "John is being elevated to sainthood and is romanticized as though he were Jesus.

Actually, he's more popular than Jesus
"

Only during Beatlemania. Jesus won in the long run.
posted by bwg at 7:42 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


tepid bilge like "Imagine"

Rolling Stone ranked "Imagine" the 3rd greatest song of all time in their editorial The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

posted by morganannie at 7:42 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe Lennon would've been a very wry, impatient 70 year-old, most likely a recluse by choice for many years. Possibly even since 1980. Along the lines of a Pynchon or a Salinger, releasing the occasional observation on the state of music and pop culture. Beatles reunions would be spoken of, but wouldn't come to fruition. He'd write books of poetry, produce art films by proxy, work on conceptual projects with Yoko. He'd threaten legal action on bands that aped his style or that of The Beatles, but nothing would come of it apart from a spike of popularity for the accused -- that would've been the unspoken point, after all.

And right about now, as he entered his seventh decade, he'd start making appearances on the rarest of occasions. Meeting with heads of state, doing what Bono and his ilk have been attempting, but far more deliberately and successfully. When asked why by reporters, he'd turn the question around and ask them why not?
posted by grabbingsand at 7:43 AM on October 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


An idiot? That's rich.

I was in London, doing A levels. I remember that we had our end-of-term exams scheduled on the days Reagan, Lennon, and the pope were shot.

Guess which one I gave a shit about?

No one whom so many people love, and who never did an evidently evil thing in his life, and who created so much work that has lasted so long, can be dismissed as "an idiot." This emperor is fully decked out in regalia.

And yeah, since there was no mefi back then:

.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:45 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh and

A working class here is something to be.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:46 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


hero, dammit.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:46 AM on October 8, 2010


LPL/EGGP: Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

It has the best motto of any airport, anywhere.

"Above us, only sky."
posted by eriko at 7:48 AM on October 8, 2010 [15 favorites]


I believe Lennon would've been exactly the same as every other bloody musician to survive the '60s. Self obsessed. Too rich. Releasing dubious albums to the sound of reviewers falling over themselves to provide hollow plaudits.

And every now and again, they'd wheel him out with Bob Dylan to provide free advertising for Steve Jobs.
posted by seanyboy at 7:49 AM on October 8, 2010


I believe Lennon would've been a very wry, impatient 70 year-old

I can only hope he wouldn't have become the botox-ridden joke that Paul McCartney became.
posted by modernnomad at 7:51 AM on October 8, 2010


I remember the day he died vividly. My step-father had been my step-father for about 2 years; I saw him crying before I knew what had happened. It's my first memory of ever seeing a grown man cry. 10 days later, my grandfather died of lung cancer, and no one cried the same way.

.
posted by DigDoug at 7:53 AM on October 8, 2010


Went back "home" to the family I was living with: a Nigerian man and his two wives and children, my gracious hosts in Nigeria. Immediately said to him: "I just found out John Lennon was killed!" He said: "Who is John Lennon?"

That put a certain global perspective on things.


I was in the desert in northwestern Kenya when Michael Jackson died - we were listening to the radio after dinner when it was announced. The guys on our field crew, a group of pastoralists living about as far away from Michael Jackson as possible, were DEVASTATED! We listened to the funeral broadcasted over the radio, and everyone went around singing Billy Jean and Smooth Criminal for the next couple of days while they were out protecting herds of goats and camels from hyenas. Globalization continues its penetration...
posted by ChuraChura at 7:54 AM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Interesting take on Lennon in "You Never Give Me Your Money", suggesting that after the breakup there were a few near misses on is getting back with McCartney but that You Know Who kept it from happening.

Pity, really. Rather a silly man who, with the right writing partner, was capable of good work.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:55 AM on October 8, 2010


I believe Lennon would've been exactly the same as every other bloody musician to survive the '60s.

I hope some day you'll join us.
posted by morganannie at 7:57 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Never did an evidently evil thing in his life
Ignoring the fact that he was probably a violent, deeply misogynistic man that also probably beat his wife?
posted by seanyboy at 7:57 AM on October 8, 2010


The only time I ever remember crying over the death of a public figure was John Lennon. He handled his fame level far better than Michael Jackson or Elvis Presley did. My favorite story about Lennon was when he did the primal scream therapy. I read a story about it and he talked about his father leaving home when he was a six year old and he was begging him not to leave.

That dude had some courage or something which I do not understand to reveal that to the entire freaking planet. If I had a trauma like that I don't think I would tell anybody except maybe my best friend forever in school. I wouldn't tell something like that to my wife.
posted by bukvich at 7:58 AM on October 8, 2010


Ignoring the fact that he was probably a violent, deeply misogynistic man that also probably beat his wife?

What?

Based on what evidence do you make such claims?

Sounds like you have some unhealthy hatred of the guy. Maybe you should hang out in some other thread.
posted by morganannie at 8:00 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I remember when Lennon turned 40 in 1980 that there were a bunch of "Can Rock'n'Roll Survive Middle Age" sort of newspaper and magazine stories. I'm not sure that it did.
posted by octothorpe at 8:00 AM on October 8, 2010


Ignoring the fact that he was probably a violent, deeply misogynistic man that also probably beat his wife?

Man, he was mean, but he's changing his scene and he's doing the best that he can.

You have to admit he got better.
posted by Jugwine at 8:01 AM on October 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


Ignoring the fact that he was probably a violent, deeply misogynistic man that also probably beat his wife?

OK, that's it, you really have just outed yourself as a blatant troll, here. I mean, really, man, you oughtta give it a rest. You're just making a bloody fool of yourself now.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:02 AM on October 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Interesting take on Lennon in "You Never Give Me Your Money", suggesting that after the breakup there were a few near misses on is getting back with McCartney but that You Know Who kept it from happening.

Ah, yes, not too long until the Yoko Myth pops up in a thread about John Lennon.

I always thought Lennon's story was so powerful because it was a story of redemption - of a silly little overgrown boy developing into a man (unlike McCartney who tried to remain a boy his whole life). Happy Birthday, Mr. Lennon.
posted by muddgirl at 8:05 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know it's really unpopular, but come on the guys from the Beatles were not exactly perfect gentlemen, Lennon included. Again, I think Lennon, of all the Beatles, did the most to condone for his wild past, even to the point of alienating his fans.
posted by muddgirl at 8:06 AM on October 8, 2010


I was seven when Lennon was murdered (not assassinated — that's for political leaders) and I remember hearing my dad talkng about it to someone. I interrupted to ask if the John Lennon he was talking about was related to Vladimir Lenin. What a weird kid I was — I knew who Vladimir Lenin was but had never heard of John Lennon.
posted by orange swan at 8:06 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


seanyboy: "An average songwriter"

Of all the foul pointless prophesying you've done in this thread, this is where you're most wrong.
posted by HumanComplex at 8:07 AM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Look, oh thread-shitters, if you don't think much of John Lennon or the Beatles, that's your right.

However, if you don't acknowledge that the Beatles' music influenced at least 90%, and quite probably 100% of rock music that followed them, you're either stupid or ignorant, or both. You don't have to like them to realize that without them the music world would be radically different in ways we can't possibly imagine.

And of course you'd have to be utterly ignorant not to realize that without John, the Beatles would never, ever have hit it big. Paul had, and still has, the gift for melody -- if you catch yourself whistling or humming a Beatles tune, the odds are it's one of Paul's. John had the gift for lyrics and the necessary cynicism to bring Paul's goofier lyrics to the right place.

It's entirely true that "Imagine" is given far more airtime than it ever deserved. It's the sort of blind optimism that John had thumbed his nose at for most of his career, and it's a damned shame he was murdered before he had a chance to do something about it.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:07 AM on October 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


Didn't want to go here:

I'm just talking about Lennon here. There's no "unhealthy" hatred. No trolling. I'm not thread-shitting. I'm just talking about the same thing as everyone else. John Lennon.

I think he's overrated, he was definitely not a saint and he represents a sanctimonious age that actually fucked things up for everyone.

I'm just talking about the same thing as everyone else. John Lennon. I've an opinion, you've an opinion and although those opinions differ, there's no need to get all personal.
posted by seanyboy at 8:09 AM on October 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


And of course you'd have to be utterly ignorant not to realize that without John, the Beatles would never, ever have hit it big.

Who said anything that contradicts this? I dislike Paul McCartney, but his work with the Beatles and yes even with Wings was superb.
posted by muddgirl at 8:09 AM on October 8, 2010


I was born almost 40 weeks to the day after John Lennon died. I may or may not be the re-incarnation of John Lennon. No real way to tell for sure.

(Also, in high school I proclaimed that I had accepted John Lennon as my personal Lord and Savior. To say that I admire the guy is a bit of an understatement.)
posted by sonika at 8:10 AM on October 8, 2010


Non-Hagiographer = Thread Shitter. Got it.
posted by Scoo at 8:15 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm just talking about Lennon here.

Yeah, well, your just "talking" about him happened to include suggestions that he was a misogynistic wife beater. Where the hell did that bullshit come from? Do you have any evidence or cite for that whatsoever. I reckon not. So don't come back here playing all innocent. That was some deep and stupid bullshit trollery, and you've been rightfully called on it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:15 AM on October 8, 2010


he represents a sanctimonious age that actually fucked things up for everyone

But he didn't represent anyone but himself -- he tried all of his life to get the press, his fans, anyone who would listen to understand this. If you think he's some kind of false voice of a generation, that's fine, but it has nothing to do with the man and his music. He was just trying to be human. That's why he lived in 70's-era New York instead of some Welsh mansion -- he could go to the park, go to the movies, ride the bus, and he wouldn't be mobbed.

Also, do you still beat your wife?
posted by swift at 8:18 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Then he did Tony Montana-esque quantities of coke and started believing all those stories his sycophantic hangers-on were spouting about him being a Holy Man of Peace And Love, and his songwriting turned to tepid bilge like "Imagine".

Or he thought he might make responsible use of his influence for good cause. Sort of like you just did.
posted by Wolof at 8:18 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ignoring the fact that he was probably a violent, deeply misogynistic man that also probably beat his wife?

OK, that's it, you really have just outed yourself as a blatant troll, here. I mean, really, man, you oughtta give it a rest. You're just making a bloody fool of yourself now.


No, he's right. From Wikipedia:

In one of his last major interviews Lennon said that until he met Ono, he had never questioned his chauvinistic attitude to women. The Beatles' song "Getting Better", he said, told his own story: "All that 'I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved' was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically—any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace".
posted by orange swan at 8:18 AM on October 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


I was only 5 when he was killed, but I still remember the DJ coming on the air to announce that he'd died. And the utter look of shock on my mother's face. I remember my kindergarten classmates talking about it at school, along the lines of "he must have been important, because my parents are really upset". None of us really knew who he was, but the ton of bricks that so obviously fell on our parents was obvious enough for us to notice.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 8:19 AM on October 8, 2010


I was seven when Lennon was murdered (not assassinated — that's for political leaders)

Wikipedia defines assassination as "the murder of a prominent or public figure, usually by surprise attack and for political purposes." It's not just for political leaders. When the news came on in December 1980 that he was dead, I recall announcers labeling it an assassination. Lennon was a political figure, like it or not. Chapman's motives may not have been political, but I have no problem with calling it an assassination. If Reagan's almost-killing a few months later was an attempted assassination, Lennon's murder was an assassination as well.

I'm just talking about the same thing as everyone else. John Lennon. I've an opinion, you've an opinion and although those opinions differ, there's no need to get all personal.

You're being disingenuous.
posted by blucevalo at 8:23 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gibson guitar company here in Bozeman is coming out with limited edition guitars honoring Lennon's birthday. Anybody want to loan me $15,000?
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:24 AM on October 8, 2010


No, he's right.

He's not right. If the man tried to mend his ways, which he did, calling him a "violent, deeply misogynistic man that also probably beat his wife" is missing the point by a mile.
posted by blucevalo at 8:25 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


cerebus19: I'm not convinced of that, though I certainly take your point. I think that the time these things happen is more important than the people and if the Beatles hadn't been as big as Jesus, someone else would have.
posted by seanyboy at 8:29 AM on October 8, 2010


OK, so there's some bad shit I didn't know about. But so what? The point about his personal conduct was actually irrelevant, and no one has ever suggested he was a bastard in the later part of his life that I know of, certainly not Yoko Ono, whose testimony is final on the matter for me.

The reason Lennon is an inspiring figure is precisely because he raised his own consciousness in a way that led his generation. He tracked the movement from misogyny to feminism of his era. He came from a brutal milieu. He wound up an internationally admired spokesman for peace and tolerance. And he created a large body of deeply influential, widely beloved art.

Seeing a thread about John Lennon get all fighty is really sad. There are a few people whom, if you don't agree with their sanctification, you might just want to step aside and let those who believe worship their idol. It doesn't harm you if someone else admires John Lennon, does it? I mean, Gandhi was a douche in private sometimes too. And Einstein was a real dick to women.

John Lennon made a difference for good in the world. I admire that even though I am not actually a particularly awestruck fan of his music, actually. I like it, and some of it I love (and a little I don't like), but I admire him more as a human being.

When you've done something greater than what he accomplished, you can call him a talentless hack and a fraud. Until then, pffft.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:31 AM on October 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


Lennon was misogynistic and maybe even violent in his youth and early adulthood, but like many mortals, he worked at identifying his faults and dedicated himself to becoming a better person. Some might even say that he overcomepensated in his later life for his faults as a younger man. But if you're going to overcomensate, I'd say that with love and peace is a pretty good way to do it. He had a great and positive impact on many people's lives and I would have loved to have seen what he would have done if he had even more time to grow, learn, and share.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:31 AM on October 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


Seeing a thread about John Lennon get all fighty is really sad.

Couldn't agree more.
posted by blucevalo at 8:35 AM on October 8, 2010


I think for a lot of Boomers, the day JFK was shot was the day our innocence died. And the day Lennon was shot was the day our idealism died.

John Lennon wasn't perfect, and from a strictly musical point of view, he wasn't even my favorite Beatle.* But he represented all the peace and love and change-the-world hippy stuff that we all truly believed was possible in the 60's and even into the 70's. When he died, it was suddenly hard to believe in all that anymore.

...he represents a sanctimonious age that actually fucked things up for everyone.

And yeah, the Boomers have done a pretty good job of fucking up the place. I mostly hate my generation (I'm on the tail end of it), partly because they sold out, and partly because they raised a generation of self-absorbed, spoiled brats. When the boomers came face to face with reality, they became money-grubbing, selfish, cut-throat couch potatoes. The generations that followed have mostly dealt with reality by running from it. Everyone on the planet has to deal with the shit their parents did to them, everyone deals with it differently. I can't wait to see what people who are 20-30somethings in the year 2030 have to say about it all.

*George was the man. "Something" is absolutely gorgeous. "Here Comes the Sun", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - pure genius.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:38 AM on October 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, people with kids will know what I mean: watching a new generation discover the Beatles all over again is a wondrous thing, and has made me admire their music in a different way than I did as a young rock musician in the 70s and 80s.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:42 AM on October 8, 2010


Of all the foul pointless prophesying you've done in this thread
I think you mean proselytising. Although, I'm currently trying to work out if he'll become more average or less average as more music is created.
posted by seanyboy at 8:47 AM on October 8, 2010


seanyboy: “He was an idiot, and it depresses me that out of all the people we could choose from that time, as a culture we seem to have chosen him.”

I agree. And what's more I feel as though I don't much like most of his songs, and I disagree fundamentally with his philosophy and his ethics. I think "Imagine" is a stupid abomination, a cynical ploy to tear down everything other people care about in the name of 'world peace.' And I think John Lennon was less happy and less fulfilled in his life than people like to admit.

All the same, I feel a good deal of kinship for John Lennon, and I have a lot of respect for the man. That's mostly because, as I grow older, I begin to realize that the guy was a lot like me, for better or for worse. And he lived his life in the best way he could. It wasn't an easy one, by all accounts.

I think you can have a lot more respect and fellow-feeling for John Lennon once you strip away all the Beatles bullshit and see him for what he was: a guy who was really into music, a young man who (like all angry young men) had been hurt, and continued to carry a burden of pain. Just a guy. Not Jesus, not Buddha, not an activist come down from heaven to save us all. He was just this guy, see? And – fuck all the deification and reification and Beatles noise – he was pretty respectable and interesting just as this guy who made some neat music that made you think.
posted by koeselitz at 8:48 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


And who died tragically young at the hands of violent lunatic, lest we forget.

Which is the real reason not to spit on his grave even if you think he wasn't for shit.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:50 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


*George was the man. "Something" is absolutely gorgeous. "Here Comes the Sun", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - pure genius.

Agreed.
posted by morganannie at 8:51 AM on October 8, 2010


'Nowhere Boy' opens today in some markets.
NYT: Lennon’s Teenage Years: Rocking and Roiling.

CNN: 'Nowhere Boy' Travels Well.

Huffington Post: Interview with Sam Taylor-Wood: Director of Nowhere Boy.
Trailer [02:10].
posted by ericb at 8:58 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Video: Yoko Ono Imagines John Lennon at 70.
posted by ericb at 8:59 AM on October 8, 2010


I think it's important to realize that Lennon went to art school, and much of what he did throughout his life kind of feeds into an artistic attitude that "life is performance art", or something like that. The "bed peace / hair peace" era, the books he wrote, the movies he participated in (with and without the Beatles), the sketches he made... It's all a searching for expression and a desire to find truth to speak clearly into the world around him. He found his truth(s), and worked on speaking them, and didn't really give a shit whether anyone else went along with it or not. Maybe he was attention-seeking, but to some extent, that is what art is about -- seeking attention. That he was tremendously successful with bits and pieces of his expression may be only a fluke, or may speak to greater genius.

Frankly, my own personality resonates with the "hippie" message of love and peace and working toward higher ideals away from base human impulses. So I find a lot of Lennon's work speaks to me. But certainly not all of it. I have a pretty healthy understanding of Lennon The Man, hard earned over many years of untangling the myth from the man.

And while I feel a tremendous sense of loss at his murder and do wonder what he'd be doing today if he were still alive, I think about Yoko taking out full page ads in the New York Times during the drumbeat to war before Iraq, a simple white page with the words "Imagine all the people living life in peace" (on Sept 23, 2001) or "Imagine Peace : Spring 2003", and renewed the billboard campaign she and John had going in 1969 "War Is Over If You Want It"... And I realize that perhaps his spirit is living on, through her actions.

Because ultimately, starting in the late 60s / early 70s and through out the rest of his life... that was the main message and main pursuit of Lennon. Peace. And that's an admirable pursuit and message to try to disseminate, which you have to admit whether you like Lennon or not.
posted by hippybear at 9:00 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


He's not right. If the man tried to mend his ways, which he did, calling him a "violent, deeply misogynistic man that also probably beat his wife" is missing the point by a mile.

Again, from Wikipedia:

"[May] Pang, 22... agreed to become Lennon's companion. .... On another occasion, after misunderstanding something Pang said, Lennon attempted to strangle her, only relenting when physically restrained by Nilsson."

I'd say he wasn't entirely successful in changing himself.

And the "how dare you make factual negative statements about a public figure I admire" strain in threads like this one and others such as Teddy Kennedy's always bemuses me. John Lennon was very talented, yes. He made some good music, yes. He was in a wildly successful and musically important band, yes. He made an effort to do some good politically, yes. He also had substance abuse problems and could be a real shit to others, especially women. None of these statements reduces or cancels out any of the others. And I don't think that anything is ever gained by selectively ignoring or dismissing truths about anyone because it doesn't fit the reverent tone some people would like to take towards him or her.
posted by orange swan at 9:00 AM on October 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


This past Sunday CBS Sunday Morning had a touching segment: Julian and Sean Lennon Come Together -- "Having Grown Up Separately in the Shadow of a Beatle, the Half-Brothers Discuss Their Careers and Their Close Bond." [video | 18:00].
posted by ericb at 9:02 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Beatles without John Lennon? Would've ended up like The Dave Clark Five, methinks.

The Paul McCartney Three?
posted by grabbingsand at 9:04 AM on October 8, 2010


Miss him, miss him, miss him...
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:09 AM on October 8, 2010


Even if you think the man was probably a raving narcissist and complete asshole in his personal life, he's touched many people's lives the world over, he engaged with peace activism in a major way, he made J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon nervous, and anyone who wrote incredible songs like "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" (and that's just scratching the surface) is a freaking genius beyond compare in my book.

koeselitz: I think "Imagine" is a stupid abomination, a cynical ploy to tear down everything other people care about in the name of 'world peace.'

How so? I'm curious, not snarking. I actively dislike the song, especially in the way that it's been used since it was first released and beyond the grave, but to call it a "cynical ploy" and a "stupid abomination" (as stacked up against many more richly deserving abominations) could stand some further elaboration, I think.

Some of what Yoko Ono's done in the name of preserving his memory is the real abomination.

orange swan: I don't think that anything is ever gained by selectively ignoring or dismissing truths about anyone because it doesn't fit the reverent tone some people would like to take towards him or her.

Your bemusement is fine, but there's a significant difference between truth-telling and being actively malicious and hateful just for the sake of it. I concede the point that he was a violent misogynist. I don't have any defense for attacks based on the man's personal behavior, and I wouldn't defend it even if I could invent such a defense. What am I supposed to take away from your pointing out to me that he tried to strangle May Pang?
posted by blucevalo at 9:12 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ignoring the fact that he was probably a violent, deeply misogynistic man that also probably beat his wife?

That's just a really ignorant comment. Lennon admitted he used to beat his wife Cynthia. And then he grew up and realized how fucked up that was:

I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster.”


Whatever else you think about Lennon, those are not the words of an idiot or a misogynist.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:15 AM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Some of what Yoko Ono's done in the name of preserving his memory is the real abomination.

Like what?
posted by muddgirl at 9:19 AM on October 8, 2010


That John Lennon 70th Birthday guitar from Gibson? I can't find anywhere on the Gibson site that they are donating any of the obscene price to something useful.

WTF Gibson? I have to think that a guitar actually intended to honour the memory of John Lennon would be basic but playable, affordable, and would come with the injunction to simply play it (alot), enjoy it, and to express yourself, in whatever way you choose.

And, hey Gibson, I have a $500 Korean Les Paul knockoff that's better made than any of your sub- $1k LPs. So there.
posted by Artful Codger at 9:22 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


his songwriting turned to tepid bilge like "Imagine"

Ummm, right. More tepidness, off the same album:

I’m sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
I’ve had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth
No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of tricky dicky
Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me
With just a pocketful of hope
Money for dope
Money for rope
posted by Killick at 9:26 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Like what?

Like this.
posted by blucevalo at 9:28 AM on October 8, 2010


Your bemusement is fine, but there's a significant difference between truth-telling and being actively malicious and hateful just for the sake of it. I concede the point that he was a violent misogynist. I don't have any defense for attacks based on the man's personal behavior, and I wouldn't defend it even if I could invent such a defense. What am I supposed to take away from your pointing out to me that he tried to strangle May Pang?

Your stance is very reasonable. I was taking issue with the person who said "If the man tried to mend his ways, which he did, calling him a 'violent, deeply misogynistic man that also probably beat his wife' is missing the point by a mile". Lennon tried to strangle a girlfriend in his mid-thirties. It's not accurate to say that he only treated women badly as a youngster. He seems to have come to understand that it was wrong for him to behave the way he did and to have tried to change himself, and this consciousness probably informed his work, but at the same time he continued to err in this way. I don't think I've "missed the point", or any point, if I refuse to leave off that last clause.
posted by orange swan at 9:35 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Like this.

Did Yoko write the commercial? Or did she just allow them to use the footage?

I think this is a really great example of how musicians, especially, become sanctified in public opinion. I don't know anything about John Lennon outside his performance of John Lennon. When his image is used after his death, it feels taboo because we're seeing someone else's performance. The only solution for that is to box up everything about him and let it stagnate.

To me, Beatles Rock Band is as much of an abomination as a car commercial.
posted by muddgirl at 9:43 AM on October 8, 2010


I first heard about his murder from Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football. It was bizarre. Football to a bombshell breaking news story and back to football. All to the soundtrack of a stadium of cheering fans.
My parents were of the generation just before The Beatles, and I was of the generation just after. It was still a shock. I remember my teachers (I was in high school) the next day being still devastated and basically suspending the lesson plans to just talk about it.
Seanyboy's comments initially shocked me, but the again I kind of feel the same about Elvis (a hero to most, but he never meant shit to me) as he does about John, so, whatever.
I like John's music. I admire his activism. I know the world would be very different somehow if he was still here. Happy Birthday.
posted by rocket88 at 9:45 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


He was deeply flawed. About half of his post-Beatles material is pretty awful, about one-third weak and the remaining one-sixth ranged from excellent to real genius, which isn't that impressive a record in relation to the treatment his catalog's being given. Contrary to a lot of those defending him here, he had severe issues with rage and anger and women which seems to have diminished through the years but never entirely disappeared . . . none of which was ever much of a secret. By plenty of accounts by people who knew and loved him, he was often a jerk and a bully and a very angry man.

Yoko's fucked with his legacy mostly by presenting him solely as some sort of gifted visionary when he was, in fact, nothing of the sort. Quite a lot of his art and music and ideas were weak, and even excusing his years of inactivity, a lot of the stuff he did after the Beatles was self-indulgent and trite. The idealism that threaded his work tended to be really absurd and self-aggrandizing. (For instance, I like "Imagine", though a bit less over the years, because as I grow older, I realise than Lennon himself was less likely achieve the goals of the song than most people.)

But, I must admit, I still really admire him and enjoy big parts of his oeuvre. He was interesting by admitting his weaknesses and acknowledging his response to them as a work-in-progress, before such a move was considered good press. He was the first really "loveable" major pop star to frequently confront the bleakness and bitterness of life in his music without seeing his fame diminish as a result. More than anyone I can think of prior to punk / post punk, he let his music reflect the complexity and contradictions and ugliness of his own life in conjunction with moments of enthusiasm, love and dreams. And though his solo catalog is really bloated, there were plenty of great tunes.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:51 AM on October 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


Killed almost 30 years ago. --- Fuck!
posted by crunchland at 9:52 AM on October 8, 2010


John is being elevated to sainthood and is romanticized as though he were Jesus.

The way things are going, they're going to crucify him.
posted by The World Famous at 9:54 AM on October 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


orange swan: I was taking issue with the person who said "If the man tried to mend his ways, which he did, calling him a 'violent, deeply misogynistic man that also probably beat his wife' is missing the point by a mile".

That person was me. Again, I concede your point, and am in no way defending his behavior toward women. Like many public figures, the man had execrable personal tendencies. Whether that takes away from or completely negates the rest of what he did or tried to do with his life is for others to decide, not me, and some clearly have decided and have made their opinions known.

I have no answers, because I am about as far from perfect myself as it gets.

Dee Xtrovert: About half of his post-Beatles material is pretty awful, about one-third weak and the remaining one-sixth ranged from excellent to real genius, which isn't that impressive a record in relation to the treatment his catalog's being given.

One-sixth, even if it were true that it was only that amount of his solo stuff that was genius, is pretty impressive to me. Many people would envy one-sixth of their life's work being categorized as genius.
posted by blucevalo at 9:58 AM on October 8, 2010


An average songwriter who got lucky...

You couldn't possibly be more wrong.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:58 AM on October 8, 2010


When his image is used after his death, it feels taboo because we're seeing someone else's performance. The only solution for that is to box up everything about him and let it stagnate.

You have a good point, but I also thought that the licensing of "Revolution #1" in a Nike ad in 1987 was an abomination, so maybe I'm too much of a stuffshirt or something.
posted by blucevalo at 10:14 AM on October 8, 2010


Birthday greetings from Yoko and Ringo.

Peace and love, everyone.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:15 AM on October 8, 2010


Birthday greetings from Yoko and Ringo .

Dear everyone in the world with a device capable of shooting video: Please don't shoot video in Portrait orientation. Seriously, do these people have sideways TVs in their houses or something?
posted by The World Famous at 10:20 AM on October 8, 2010


John was a deeply flawed human being and I, too, find his secular sainthood to be problematic in a host of ways.

I also love and adore his music, cannot take my eyes off him in A Hard Day's Night, and would happily get on my knees to thank the universe that he was on this earth even just for forty years to give us everything he did.
posted by scody at 10:27 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


You have a good point, but I also thought that the licensing of "Revolution #1" in a Nike ad in 1987 was an abomination, so maybe I'm too much of a stuffshirt or something.

Well, to be fair, I called Beatles Rock Band an abomination, and I'm only half-joking. It sometimes seems like a zombie to me - all the motions of life without any soul.
posted by muddgirl at 10:27 AM on October 8, 2010


No, I wasn't trying to be snarky, I apologize if it came off that way. I can be a stuffshirt.

I haven't even gotten anywhere near Beatles Rock Band and the brief images of it I've seen on the boob tube make me shiver with terror.
posted by blucevalo at 10:30 AM on October 8, 2010


One-sixth, even if it were true that it was only that amount of his solo stuff that was genius, is pretty impressive to me. Many people would envy one-sixth of their life's work being categorized as genius.

Well . . . that's not exactly what I said. I said one-sixth of his solo music was "excellent to genius" and deliberately excluded writing and artwork, none of which was excellent or genius. And even calling one-sixth of his solo music excellent to genius may be a little of an exaggeration. But I'm glad you mention this, because it allows me to talk about his post-Beatles catalog.

New reissues include 1) a double-CD of "Double Fantasy" with the original album plus newly stripped-down version of material from around that time, 2) an 11xCD box set that compiles his "real" solo catalog (meaning, not including the really self-indulgent stuff like "Two Virgins", etc) a CD of demos and outtakes, a CD of non-LP tracks and other stuff, and 3) a condensed 4xCD compilation of the same. Additionally, 4) some of his individual albums have been remastered and reissued. There's also 5) a new greatest hits single CD.

What do you need?

For me, his catalog is, at best, an inconsistent mess. I don't are about the later stuff much, though a few songs are pleasant, so I am happy to skip the deluxe "Double Fantasy" package. The 11xCD box alleviates the need for any individual remasters, more or less, so the big question is, the 4xCD box or the 11xCD one.

I actually sat down and worked it all out, and here's the lowdown:

1) Both packages continue all the hits you'd find on the new greatest hits package, so either one will get you all of his best-known stuff.

2) Most places are selling the 11xCD package for around $150, or about $13.50 per CD, but the 4xCD box can be had for less than $8 per CD - much better deal.

3) Surprisingly, the 4xCD set includes most of Lennon's best albums - all but one song from "Imagine", everything from "Plastic Ono Band" save one CD bonus track, all but two tracks from "Walls & Bridges", all but four tracks from "Mind Games", everything from "Rock & Roll" and the two good "John" songs from "Some Time In NYC", and all the okay stuff his last recordings. It adds a few other odds and ends. But none of the stuff it's missing is very good. It also prunes all the Yoko stuff. The 11xCD set is much more complete, obviously.

4) Unless you're a completist, the 4xCD is exceptional and a far better deal. I don't need about 40% of it, but what I do need is all there - all his best known songs, and every album track worth saving. It's the one to get.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:32 AM on October 8, 2010


I'd agree with your assessment of the optimal reissue to buy. I don't really need to have much of his solo material beyond the stuff you mention in 3). I still think that even if he'd only written "Tomorrow Never Knows" (I know, not a solo product, but in name only) and nothing else it would be enough to call him a genius.
posted by blucevalo at 10:40 AM on October 8, 2010


So, take a moment to spare a thought for his son Sean, who shares his birthday, and who, in December 1980 was a five year old boy sitting in the Dakota, listening first to sirens and then, later, the the crowds outside singing and chanting in memory of his father, waiting for his mother to come and tell him what had happened.

Watching the Wheels (home movie footage version)

Sean Lennon interview: "The real truth is that when my dad passed away I felt as if the only way to replace him was through music ... it was my way of feeling as though he was with me, physically."

Tomorrow will be tough day for him, I have no doubt.

Rest in Peace, John.
posted by anastasiav at 10:46 AM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


One wonders whether, in a parallel universe, Lennon became a Jim Jones/Charles Manson-esque cult leader.

And you are that one.
posted by hellbient at 10:49 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


"John is being elevated to sainthood and is romanticized as though he were Jesus."

Who's elevating who to what? Bullshit. It's just a cool little thing that Google did. I know some seriously die-hard Lennon/Beatles fans, and they don't romanticize John Lennon as though he were Jesus. Bill Hicks, maybe. *cough* But seriously, making these kinds of stick-wedged-firmly-in-the-ass generalizations is for small-minded pricks taking themselves way too seriously.

Love the guy, pan the guy, or hate him - doesn't matter. At least Lennon did something besides sit around and bitch. I personally can take him or leave him, but I wouldn't show up to the MeFi birthday party just to piss all over a dead guy.
posted by PuppyCat at 10:52 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


His birthday is tomorrow. Why has mother superior jumped the gun?
posted by thescientificmethhead at 10:53 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


His birthday is tomorrow. Why has mother superior jumped the gun?

I didn't think it would bother anyone to remember him a day early.
posted by morganannie at 10:56 AM on October 8, 2010


fan girl forever.His songs made a difference in the world for me.
posted by francesca too at 11:00 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regarding the licensing of Beatles' music for commercial use, etc., Paul, Ringo and the estates of John and George are not responsible for the licensing of the band's music, since the band's catalog is owned/managed by Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
"The company does not need permission from Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono or the family of George Harrison to make the deals, but Martin Bandier, chief executive of Sony/ATV, said that he felt a 'moral obligation' to discuss uses of the catalogue with them."
posted by ericb at 11:06 AM on October 8, 2010


I first heard about his murder from Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football.

Jesus, same here. I was eleven, and it was hard to process--I grew up listening to my parents' Beatles albums (and others, of course). I didn't know what to do--Christ, weren't we just watching a fucking football game? And now this? My father just sat still with his mouth slightly open; my mother burst into tears and fled the room. She was inconsolable that evening.

Some years later, a fellow named Kurt Cobain took his life, which I found rather shattering. Later that evening, my mom called to timidly ask me if I was all right.

Great, now I'm crying.
posted by Skot at 11:17 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wolfgang's Vault has a 5-song concert by Lennon from 1972 available for a limited time. Good stuff.
posted by hippybear at 11:18 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think "Imagine" is a stupid abomination, a cynical ploy to tear down everything other people care about in the name of 'world peace.'

Get a grip. It's a song whose lyrics invite you to imagine something. Lennon himself had possessions, plenty of them, just for example. This is something that he wrote, for the same reason an essayist might write. Think of it as Swiftian, if you like; though he's clearly being much more sincere and less ironic than Swift he's still not doing more than painting a picture for you to think about and contrast with things as they are.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:18 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I flipping hate John Lennon. An average songwriter who got lucky and pulled a bunch of stupid boomer tricks. Changing the world by staying in bed? That maybe flew back in 1973 or whenever, but it's pretty obvious it was a stupid self-serving publicity stunt. The same with that being naked thing.

Don't even get me started on his stupid drug-addled doodles. That's not art, it's an example that fame will impart even the most hackneyed self-obsessed scrawls with extra gravitas.

He was an idiot, and it depresses me that out of all the people we could choose from that time, as a culture we seem to have chosen him.
posted by seanyboy at 3:23 PM on October 8


Perhaps a little harsh, but not much. Lennon is monstrously overrated, and the fact that he was so horribly murdered while still relatively young has only made that fact worse. Most of his solo stuff is mediocre at best. I'll give him "Cold Turkey" and "Working Class Hero" but not a hell of a lot else. He did have a good pop/rock voice, though.
posted by Decani at 11:24 AM on October 8, 2010


Ignoring the fact that he was probably a violent, deeply misogynistic man that also probably beat his wife?
posted by seanyboy at 3:57 PM on October 8


Not to mention kicking Stuart Sutcliffe in the head...
posted by Decani at 11:27 AM on October 8, 2010


Imagine just one more possession. As a kid I loved the Beatles, especially John, but it was pretty obvious to me then that anyone that wealthy who sang "imagine no possessions" was at least slightly full of shit. Easy for you to say, John, you rich bastard.

But he made a lot of great music. And on the upswings of his sine wave he really seemed to Get It. And some of the Plastic Ono Band stuff is as sweet as anything I've ever heard, and Yoko Ono provides a handy litmus test (in the sense that if I hear people talking about music, and Ono is mentioned, and everyone starts jeering, I know they are probably dingbats).
posted by jtron at 11:28 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not to mention kicking Stuart Sutcliffe in the head...

Likely never happened. Wiki
posted by anastasiav at 11:29 AM on October 8, 2010


I think "Imagine" is a stupid abomination, a cynical ploy to tear down everything other people care about in the name of 'world peace.'

I'm not a big fan of Lennon either, but that anyone could be this wide of the mark on 'Imagine' makes me a bit sad (not surprised, though).
posted by klanawa at 11:36 AM on October 8, 2010


but that anyone could be this wide of the mark on 'Imagine' makes me a bit sad (not surprised, though).

Is it really that wide off the mark? The verses say 'imagine a world without the things about you that I don't like' and the chorus says 'I hope someday you'll come around to my way of thinking so we don't disagree anymore.' Based on the way Lennon acted in the '70s, I think it's a fair interpretation to hear Imagine as saying, basically, 'there will be no more disagreement in the world once everyone agrees with me.' The music is beautiful, but I have always felt that they lyrics are somewhat hateful and sophmoric.
posted by The World Famous at 11:51 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


With all of this Lennon-kicking, this might be a good time to share one of my favorite recorded post-Beatle events involving John and another John.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:55 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


seanyboy: "Of all the foul pointless prophesying you've done in this thread

I think you mean proselytising. Although, I'm currently trying to work out if he'll become more average or less average as more music is created.
"

As you were trying to predict what would have happened if he hadn't been shot, I meant prophesying.
posted by HumanComplex at 11:57 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


At least in my neck of the woods, the google doodle is up now. Bonus: it's not just a doodle. It's a VIDEO doodle. First of its kind. Go John.
posted by morganannie at 11:57 AM on October 8, 2010


Sorry - I don't mean to be kicking Lennon. I love his songs and I think he's one of the greatest songwriters ever. I have all kinds of respect and love for him. That one song is just a sore point for me, I think.

When I was a teenager, I used to say that Lennon's post-Beatles work was crap. But that was, in part, because I fancied myself as a great musician and sort of assumed, stupidly, that my own body of work would be consistently something that I would be proud of. I couldn't conceive of being inconsistent as a writer. As I got older, I started to realize that I would never, ever, have a body of musical work as good as Lennon's post-Beatles work. And then, as I got even older, I realized that every musician, as they mature, needs to spread out a bit and create music for the sake of exploration - music that is not designed to be optimized for maximum impact on every song. Lennon was exploring, spreading out creatively, and maturing as an artist. The greatest tragedy in Lennon's death was the loss of a loving father and husband - because that, I think, is what he was truly devoted to and where the greatest loss was. The secondary tragedy is the loss of an artist in the process of genuine introspection and creative exploration that would certainly have led to an explosion of incredible work later in life.

A lot of what he did post-Beatles was sophmoric, yes - because with the Beatles he was forced to focus on commercial work (yes, including the "experimental" Beatles stuff) and because everything he did was tempered by George Martin and the rest of the band. Only with the end of the Beatles was he able to start from scratch as an individual artist and grow within himself to reach his full potential. And that process was cut short.

As much as Imagine grates on me, it's just a single moment in Lennon's artistic career - a snapshot of a developing man pouring out his evolving worldview in song. It's a beautiful thing, even if I don't like the sentiment.

Maybe a lot of people in the world have the potential - the raw talent - to be what Lennon was. But Lennon had the early-life cultivation of that talent in the greatest rock band in all of history, paired with the resources to take his talent as far as he cared to. His loss is far greater than we will ever be able to realize. There's no way to guess what he would have done with the rest of his life had he not been murdered. But I think it's safe to assume that he would have continued to be a creative force, to love his family, and to pursue his artistic vision honestly and without inhibition. And that is an incredibly rare thing, particularly for a commercially-successful artist in the mainstream.
posted by The World Famous at 12:11 PM on October 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ever get the feeling you were born thirty years too late?
posted by normy at 12:20 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


An average songwriter

Sorry, but this is still bugging me a little bit.

Girl.
Norwegian Wood.
Happiness is a Warm Gun.
Come Together.
Don't Let Me Down.
Rain.
Strawberry Fields Forever.
A Day in the Life.
Across the Universe.
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away.
Dear Prudence.
I Don't Want to Spoil the Party.
Julia.
I Am the Walrus.
Help!
I'm Only Sleeping.
Tomorrow Never Knows.
She Said.
Nowhere Man.
It's Only Love.
And Your Bird Can Sing.
Ticket to Ride.

And maybe the greatest bridge of all time, the middle section of McCartney's Things We Said Today.

There are no songwriters in rock with a canon of material more substantial than that.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:21 PM on October 8, 2010 [17 favorites]


Only with the end of the Beatles was he able to start from scratch as an individual artist and grow within himself to reach his full potential. And that process was cut short.

Yes, absolutely. I think this is why the song "God" has always been, for me, his most extraordinary and poignant solo song... the part where he sings, in a slightly wavering voice, "but now... I'm John" makes me cry every single time I hear it. In that post-Beatles moment, he was struggling with the essential struggle of any adult -- yearning to define himself fully as an individual on his own terms, not in relation to anyone else (e.g., the abandoned and eventually orphaned son; the Beatle; the other half of a songwriting partnership; the idol of millions).

And yet, even in the same song, he doesn't leave his definition of himself on his own terms -- elsewhere he goes from "I believe in me" to "Yoko and me." He still had to define himself as a unit with someone else -- someone he loved and was devoted to, absolutely (and I will say here that I actually really like Yoko, so this is not coming from any anti-Yoko sentiment whatsoever), but still... I feel like he never was "just John." Maybe he was getting there. But we'll never know, and for that, my heart will always be a little broken.

(have to stop typing now because I can't cry and type at the same time.)
posted by scody at 12:29 PM on October 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


posted by seanyboy at 10:23 AM on October 8

Eponysterical
posted by stargell at 12:32 PM on October 8, 2010


Hi. Deeply flawed human being here. Just wanted to post my favorite post-Beatles song of John's. That is all.
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:40 PM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


In that post-Beatles moment, he was struggling with the essential struggle of any adult -- yearning to define himself fully as an individual on his own terms, not in relation to anyone else

The world loves rock and roll that addresses the banal issues of pre-adulthood. Because we can relate to it and smile at it at the same time. But rock and roll that honestly struggles with being an adult is a much heavier thing. The common struggles of adulthood are not the sort of thing we can dance to. It's no longer the poetic expression of the banal sentiments of a high-school journal keeper or fanciful melodies singing about lovely meter maids or wanting to shag someone.

Strawberry Fields Forever is one of the greatest songs ever written. But contrast its lyrics with these:

What can I say?
The dream is over,
Yesterday I was the dreamweaver,
But now I'm reborn.
I was the walrus,
But now I'm John.
And so dear friends,
You just have to carry on,
The dream is over.


That's a man putting it all on the line. And it took the creation of a mountain of music that people think of as "crap" to get from "Feel so lonely/Wanna die" to "I don't believe in Beatles. I just believe in me." That's worth it, I think. That's a musical journey - and the destination matters.

But, unlike John Lennon, I do most fervently believe in Zimmerman.
posted by The World Famous at 12:43 PM on October 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


He was an idiot --- Yes, yes. This is the internet. Your favorite dead rocker sucks. Very good. Now, do run along.
posted by crunchland at 12:49 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regarding the licensing of Beatles' music for commercial use, etc., Paul, Ringo and the estates of John and George are not responsible for the licensing of the band's music, since the band's catalog is owned/managed by Sony/ATV Music Publishing.

Publishing catalog. Which means they may not have a lot of control over the actual compositions being used. But recordings are a totally different matter, and not under the ultimate control of the publishing company. Regarding the Beatles' musical recordings, the band members and their estates do have total control.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:57 PM on October 8, 2010


Thank you, Devils Rancher. Those who denigrate Lennon's songwriting show they understand little about songwriting.

Oh but by the way, you forgot "In My Life."
posted by tommyD at 1:09 PM on October 8, 2010


Wow. By far, the nastiest, rudest, and most personal comments in this thread are from some of the Lennon defenders. People are being snapped at to "get a grip" because they don't interpret a song the same way. And comments like this are being hurled at someone for saying that a musician is overrated. One commentor sounds close to completely losing their shit just because someone said bad stuff about a musician they like. Come on now. Lennon died thirty years ago, not today, and given these reactions, I think that taking on this sacred cow is warranted.
posted by Toothless Willy at 1:16 PM on October 8, 2010


But recordings are a totally different matter, and not under the ultimate control of the publishing company. Regarding the Beatles' musical recordings, the band members and their estates do have total control.

True.

If they (John, Ringo, Sean and Julian, for example) wanted to go into the studio and re-record any of the music, those new recordings would be theirs to distribute. They'd pay a licensing fee to Sony/ATV Music Publishing for each song they recorded and a cut of every sale of the new recordings would also go to the publishing company.

The band members and estates do not have the permission to grant or deny others access to re-record or use any Beatles music in commercial ventures.
posted by ericb at 1:18 PM on October 8, 2010


Ha, I'd always thought In My Life was one of McCartney's better songs.

You know what Lennon had? He had the power of introspection, and he had the brutal honesty it took to relate what he saw in that introspection.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:19 PM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lennon died thirty years ago, not today, and given these reactions, I think that taking on this sacred cow is warranted.

Whenever I dance about architecture, someone steps on my damn toes.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:22 PM on October 8, 2010


Whenever I dance about architecture, someone steps on my damn toes.

Let me guess: It's Howard Roark, isn't it?
posted by The World Famous at 1:25 PM on October 8, 2010


*John, Ringo, Sean and Julian*

Err, that would be *Paul, Ringo, Sean and Julian*.
posted by ericb at 1:31 PM on October 8, 2010


Let me guess: It's Howard Roark, isn't it?

Right in the middle of a very delicate minuet, that Lester Bangs guy charges the floor, waving his arms around everywhere.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:38 PM on October 8, 2010


Well he was, then the Boomers hit their 40's and joined (became) the religious right.

There's a lot of unreconstructed hippies out there.


posted by mmrtnt at 2:18 PM on October 8, 2010


Ignoring the fact that he was probably a violent, deeply misogynistic man that also probably beat his wife?

Man, he was mean, but he's changing his scene and he's doing the best that he can.

You have to admit he got better.



posted by mmrtnt at 2:23 PM on October 8, 2010


John is being elevated to sainthood and is romanticized as though he were Jesus.

There was a guy who romanticized Jesus so much so that he thought he would show his religious fervor by murdering John Lennon.
posted by telstar at 4:37 PM on October 8, 2010


I think you mean that he romanticized Holden Caulfield so much that he thought he would show his Catcher In The Rye fervor by murdering John Lennon.
posted by hippybear at 4:47 PM on October 8, 2010


Devil's Rancher - I always thought John sang In My Life and it always sounded more like a Lennon melody than a McCartney. But I thought you could be right and checked Alan Pollack's site, which by the way has great musical analyses of Beatles songs for those interested. Anyway, an often forgotten song that's one of the Beatles' best, whoever wrote it.
posted by tommyD at 5:22 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


70 Things You Didn't Know About John Lennon

Thing 12. When asked about the uproar in America over his "more popular than Jesus" comment, Lennon responded, "There are more people in America, so there are more bigots also."
posted by morganannie at 5:49 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the 70 Things link: 48. Apparently, when Maharishi Mahesh Yogi asked Lennon why he was leaving the ashram early, Lennon responded by saying, “Well, if you’re so cosmic, you should know why.”

Can't argue with that.
posted by sonika at 5:53 PM on October 8, 2010


Anyway, an often forgotten song that's one of the Beatles' best, whoever wrote it.

Oh, I wasn't disagreeing with you -- I should have said "I mistakenly thought..." It is apparently primarily a Lennon song.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:57 PM on October 8, 2010


I just listened to Give Peace a Chance.

Sounded pretty damn good.
posted by bukvich at 7:05 PM on October 8, 2010


I was (for once) doing homework, listening to KROQ in my mother's apartment, when the dj said John Lennon had been shot in New York. Then they played the Buzzcocks' "Orgasm addict." So I thought it might be a joke. Tasteless, but whatever.

I had loved a couple of Beatles albums as a little kid but was far gone into punk and classical music by then. I listened for a little while longer until a dj said he was dead, and that Yoko hadn't yet told their son, who was asleep upstairs. That detail stays with me. I wandered out and told my mother that someone had killed John Lennon. She said, my god, who would bother?

The next day at school I heard that Darby Crash of the Germs had died.
posted by goofyfoot at 7:37 PM on October 8, 2010


I think "She Loves You" is the greatest rock-n-roll pop song in the history of the universe. Feel free to think whatever you want.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:42 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Then they played the Buzzcocks' "Orgasm addict." So I thought it might be a joke. Tasteless, but whatever.

On the 1980 version of KROQ, even if it had been a tasteless joke, it would have been entirely within character.
posted by blucevalo at 8:47 PM on October 8, 2010


I think "She Loves You" is the greatest rock-n-roll pop song in the history of the universe.

That'd be "I Saw Her Standing There" for me, I reckon.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:54 PM on October 8, 2010


By the way, YouTube has joined Google in making a Lennon-themed logo...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:05 PM on October 8, 2010


Not to be a sourpuss, but considering the way he smoked cigarettes (Gitanes, if I'm not mistaken), I fear that John Lennon never would have made it to 2010.

Many thoughts about him today, but I guess the one I'll leave on the blue is from a documentary I saw about the effect the Beatles had on post-war England. According to the interviewee, WWII had conditioned England (particularly the men) to have stiff upper lips, to not concern themselves with how they "felt", 'cuz that was somehow weak, or something. Then along comes John Lennon singing about "but every now and then I feel so insecure", and all of a sudden it's all right to admit that you don't feel so good.

I think that's a nice thing. I also think that John Lennon wrote some great songs. And sang the shit out of them. Listen to "Twist and Shout" - corny though it may be, consider that it was recorded without the use of any digital manipulation, live, in ONE take, at the end of an 11 hour session that resulted in their entire first album. And the musicians' ages topped out at 23. And it's still played, admired, and emulated some 50 years later.

Dr. Winston O'Boogie ftw.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:51 PM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was thinking about Julian and Cynthia today, too, and came across this news (article version; video version) about a Lennon family reunion (plus Patti Boyd!) that took place recently at an exhibition of Julian's photography in New York. Good to hear that John's sons are still so close, and that Julian's finding his peace with John as a father.
posted by scody at 12:26 PM on October 9, 2010


scody -- as per above. ; )
posted by ericb at 2:17 PM on October 9, 2010


d'oh! That's what I get for reading through the thread yesterday all teary-eyed!
posted by scody at 2:55 PM on October 9, 2010


There must be some sort of box set coming out, for all this marketing to be going on.
posted by interrobang at 7:49 PM on October 9, 2010


Hi friends, flapjax here. On the occasion of John's actual birthday, and being as how the Myth of John Lennon seems to sometimes overshadow the music, I thought I'd put together a Mefi FPP featuring some links to some of Lennon's Beatles-era songs in forms that might be new and interesting to some people here. But alas, said post was very short-lived, whisked from the front page with a mod's note saying: "drop in the existing Lennon thread?" Well, OK, I think it should've stayed up on the October 9 Mefi front page, but, hey, I'm not a mod, so what do I know? Haha! Anyway, here's the post, copied and pasted (exactly as it read for those few fleeting, glorious minutes on the front page!) for those who might like to hear these wonderful and not-so-often-heard versions of what the man was really, really good at. Music!

*********************************************************

Hey! You might've heard, it's John Lennon's birthday! What better way to celebrate than singing along with the backing track for I Feel Fine ? Then you can sing along with John's Rain , with the added fun of having Lennon himself do some harmony with you! Sweet! What? You don't know all the words? So, get a refresher course: listen to John's Rain lead vocal track, loud and clear and accompanied only by bass and tambourine. And his vocal track is mixed waaay up for your listening pleasure on I Am the Walrus and Ticket To Ride . And hey, if you're one of those folks who just can't sing at all, well, maybe your bird can. But hey, even if you don't have the greatest voice in the world, why not try singing along to some of John's tunes, to honor the 70th anniversary of his birth? I mean, Paul Mccartney did! If you don't, you won't know what you're missing.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:42 PM on October 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


From the deleted post to here. John Cohen has an interesting take on this.

Here.
posted by Splunge at 10:18 PM on October 9, 2010


John Lennon died the day my best friend in childhood was born, so I'll always remember December 8, 1980.

He pushed the most influential band of all time into the experimental places that would lead all bands to follow.

He pissed off Paul with his "all you did was 'Yesterday'" crap, but forced Paul to step it up himself.

He wrote a beautiful, universally acknowledged song about how religion was the source of all of our wars and suffering.

And, yeah, he was perhaps the most important driving force behind the Beatles.

Not an idiot. Likely a genius. At the very least a monumentally influntial force of nature.

.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:34 PM on October 9, 2010


And yeah, Americans have done a pretty good job of fucking up the place. I mostly hate my country (I'm on the tail end of it), partly because they sold out, and partly because they raised a generation of self-absorbed, spoiled brats. When Americans came face to face with reality, they became money-grubbing, selfish, cut-throat couch potatoes.

Fixed that for you.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:41 AM on October 10, 2010


then the Boomers hit their 40's and joined (became) the religious right.

I think something goes on a lot where Boomers get conflated with hippies and then we blame the state of the world today for the Boomer/hippies reversing on all their ideals. I don't think this is entirely accurate. It's important to remember that most Boomers weren't hippies; in fact only a small percentage of them were - a large number may have been Beatles fans, even fans of post-Beatles Lennon's music, but they weren't all fully embracing the peace and love ideals embodied by post-Beatles Lennon. I think the people who have done the most to fuck up the world for today are the Boomers who never had those ideals in the first place, the ones who weren't out there protesting the war, etc. The Boomer generation contains a lot more George W. Bushes than Donovans*. Just my $.0.02.

As a side note, John Lennon died on my stepmother's 21st birthday. Although too young to have been following the Beatles at their height, she is blessed with two much older siblings who introduced her to great music, and she says it was pretty much the worst day ever.

*Actually, trying to write this last sentence sort of threw a small wrench into my whole theory, because I was trying to dial up a famous "hippie" and realized that most of them are actually a little too old (born late 30s-early 40s) to also qualify as Boomers, and so it's not exactly a subset of Boomers. I guess the people one would consider hippie "leaders" (musically, politically, or otherwise) would be a little older but have lots of younger Boomers modeling them. Maybe this is a stretch.
posted by naoko at 11:09 AM on October 19, 2010


« Older Your future food being kicked, stamped on and inap...  |  A long moment passes. "Watch y... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments