30 years later, remembering John.
I was the walrus,
But now I’m John,
And so dear friends,
You just have to carry on,
The dream is over.
Upon his death 30 years ago, Rolling Stones wrote on the personal and the political, shining light on the fact that John Lennon cared.
More than any other rock musician (with the possible exception of Bob Dylan), John Lennon personalized the political and politicized the personal, often making the two stances interchangeable but sometimes ripping out the seams altogether. Whereas Dylan expressed his personal and political iconoclasm mainly by expanding and exploding the narrative line (thus forcing the melody to accommodate a torrent of language and imagery), Lennon assaulted pop music from a dozen different directions. He not only attacked the war – any war – but questioned and confronted the very methods and structures he’d utilized in his attack, thereby pushing rock & roll up against the wall to test limits and demand answers. John Lennon believed passionately that popular music could and should do more than merely entertain, and by acting out this conviction, he changed the face of rock & roll forever. By taking such huge risks, he sometimes failed or seemed silly. Yet, in retrospect, even his failures take on the glow of nobility: the fact that he cared so much shines through his occasional shortcomings.
You say you’ll change the constitution
Well you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know know it’s gonna be alright. Alright Alright.
Aussie journalist Martin Flanagan writes on Wikileaks and Lennon,
But in Lennon’s last major interview, with Playboy’s David Sheff, he made an important disclosure. He talked about the idea that everything contained its opposite. He was the man of peace but admitted to being violent in the past – to being a ”hitter” of women. When idealists are found to be flawed, as they always are, it is invariably used to discredit their ideal. Personally, I would quote George Orwell’s dictum that you shouldn’t trust an autobiography that doesn’t reveal something disgusting about its author.
You can go to church and sing a hymn
You can judge me by the color of my skin
You can live a lie until you die
One thing you can’t hide
Is when you’re crippled inside
When the music died, Time magazine wrote in it’s massive cover story,
Presley seemed at the end, trapped, defeated and hopeless. Lennon could have gone that way too, could have destroyed himself. But he did something harder. He lived. And, for all the fame and finance, that seemed to be what he took the most pride in. “He beat the rock-‘n’-roll life,” Steve Van Zandt said the day after Lennon died. “Beat the drugs, beat the fame, beat the damage. He was the only guy who beat it all.” That was the victory Mark Chapman took from John Lennon, who had an abundance of what everyone wants and wanted only what so many others have, and take for granted. A home and family. Some still center of love. A life. One minute more.
A pretty face may last a year or two
But pretty soon they’ll see what you can do
The sound you make is muzak to my ears
You must have learned something in all those years
Ah, how do you sleep?
Ah, how do you sleep at night?
Times writes 20 years later “The essentials are undeniable: you can come from a suburb of a moribund industrial city, develop a talent that captures the imagination of the world, use your success to raise issues of transcendent importance and make a lasting mark on the culture. Apart from this one’s tragic ending, myths don’t get better than that.”
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.