Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, John Lennon.

By Nick
Today is John Lennon's Birthday. He would be 70 years old if he were alive.

John Lennon is an enigmatic figure. He was the archetypal rock-and-roll egotist. He used people all through his life, including his wife and fellow bandmembers.  His life was characterized by doing all sorts of crazy and selfish things, not the least of which was ditching his wife Cynthia for that ugly Japanese chick. His personal beliefs swung wildly from Indian Mysticism to Christianity (briefly), to hardcore atheism. Many of his famous solo songs- "Give Peace a Chance", "Power To The People", "Instant Karma"- are repetitive, gospel music knock-offs, hitting you with Lennon's philosophies like a sledgehammer.  "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" is on my list of the top all-time worst Christmas songs, mostly due to Yoko Ono's piercing, off-key vocals. And then there's the ridiculously overrated "Imagine", John's atheist Sunday-school anthem. The song sounds like the made-in-Red China version of "Let It Be." John, of course, didn't seem to be too serious about the whole "imagine no possessions" bag, as he was a multi-millionaire when he died.
     And yet the fact remains that he wrote some of the best Beatles songs ever. "Strawberry Fields Forever" (In my opinion the greatest Beatles song ever written.), "Across The Universe", "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", "I Am The Walrus", "Come Together", "Revolution", "A Day In The Life." "Strawberry Fields Forever" is probably the best example of the late Beatles' style, combining their classical and rock-and-roll elements in a perfect symmetry. "Lucy In The Sky" and "I Am The Walrus" are classics of surrealism. I dare anyone to produce a song that has a better melody than "Across The Universe." The sad thing is that even when he was writing these great Beatles song, his massive egotism came into his lyrics. "Across The Universe", "I Am The Walrus", and "Strawberry Fields Forever" are all self-centered, navel-gazing anthems. John even wrote a song about himself, "The Ballad of John and Yoko." His songwriting style contrasts with that of fellow Beatle Paul McCartney, whose songs seem to exude a warm sense of community, inviting everyone listening to sing along.

     Cynics may be tempted to sing "Imagine no John Lennon/It's easy if you try", but he has had a definite influence, for better or worse, on the world of rock music, and music in general. If only his talent wasn't ruined by his wacky political views, his bloated pride, and his intense desire to be a jerk.
John Lennon on "Strawberry Fields."
"I was different all my life. The second verse goes, 'No one I think is in my tree.' Well, I was too shy and self-doubting. Nobody seems to be as hip as me is what I was saying. Therefore, I must be crazy or a genius—'I mean it must be high or low'"

Yours Truly as a Beatle. Not John, though. Some kids told me I looked like George Harrison.

Currently listening to: "Just Like Starting Over (2010 Remix)", John Lennon, "The Ballad Of You And I",
Melee, "All You Need Is Love", The Beatles.


  1. Well, this is try number two. Lost the first attempt to comment thru some glitch. we go. Your comments up to the young Lennon (middle picture) I more or less concur with. A few thoughts.

    (1) Strawberry Fields the best Beatle song? Makes me wonder if you've heard them all, or even most of them. Well, taste is a quirky thing, I suppose.

    (2) Across the Universe has the best melody? EVER? Of any song, or just any Beatle song? Actually - The former would be silly to suggest, and the latter open to profound objection. (insert "taste" comment here)

    (3)I actually like the music of the Ballad of J&Y, it's the lyrics that set my teeth on edge.

    (4)I gather from your comparrison of John to Paul you are more a Paul guy. If that is the case I agree. It's certainly more "cool" to think John the genius and Paul the romantic hack, but my money is on Paul as the real brains and talent of the operation.

    (5)You don't comment on how odd it is to think of John at 70, but then, I guess - why should you(?) - He was dead before you were born. But to is profoundly strange. Because I do remember back to 1963 when I first heard John Lennon. To Imagine (pun asserted) him at 70 back then would have been completely impossible. It's actually far odder to think of him as 70 than to think of him as dead.

    (5)You seem to ignore the early work of the Beatles.Perhaps it just worked out that way. Or perhaps you think it inferior.

    (6) You perhaps look vaguely like Harrison, but honestly, you look far more like his son. Check it out.

    (7).My snide remark in #1 aside (made only in good natured fun, I assure you) - you do seem to know the Beatles fairly well. You surely know more about the Beatles than I know about the lastest American Idol or rap "star."

    (8)You do not comment on what you do think the best album of the Beatles is. My vote, which probably concurs with many critics: Revolver. Second place: perhaps Meet the Beatles, or Abbey Road.

    (9) There is no 9, except as a vehicle to get me to 10.

    (10) Since today is 10/10/10 I figured I had to get to number 10. By the way, the rumor is true, I was actually the Walrus, not Paul.

  2. 1.) My Beatles knowledge is rather deficient, but out of all the songs I know, Strawberry Fields is the best defining example of the late Beatles style.
    2.)I exaggerate when I say that it is the best melody ever, so forgive my hyperbole. Best pop/rock melody ever?--that's open to debate, but I would put it in at least the top ten.
    3.) I like the music to the Ballad of J&Y too. I've never heard a Beatles song I didn't like.
    4.) John didn't write and sing Let It Be. Ergo, Paul wins.
    5.) I'm personally glad that John isn't 70, because then he would have to play a Super Bowl halftime show where he whispered and croaked the lyrics to all his songs like another band WHO I won't mention.
    5.2) I didn't mention the Beatles early work, because at that time, to my knowledge, John and Paul were writing songs as a team, and in their later period they were writing separately more.
    6.) I'll check it out.
    7.) I have not only met people who had no idea who the Beatles were, but people who tried to insult the Beatles by saying that they weren't number one on iTunes like (Insert lame pop singer whom David Leach knows nothing about here.) One more mark against the government school system.
    8.) My vote goes to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as the best Beatles album that I have listened to. I like Revolver well enough, but I feel like it has too many filler tracks, and that unpleasant "Tommorow Never Knows Business.
    9.) Number 9, number 9, number 9. Although having point nine is not neccessary, as you posted point 5 twice.
    10.) If you were the Walrus, then who is the Eggman. No one has ever found out who the Eggman was.

  3. Ok, I confess I laughed out loud to #9. Very clever!Tried to come up with a clever Eggman yoke, but nothing came to mind. I cant find fault in a choice of Sgt. Pepper's. I should have included it with the 3 I did list (an oversight). Appreciate your Fab thoughts.

  4. RE #5 - as I find myself edging out of my 50's, the number 5 has increasing sentimental significance. Forgive my preoccupation.