Every December 8th for the last 30 years, I have quietly paid tribute to my fallen hero. Last year, I went to John’s memorial in Central Park to remember the man who changed the world in a way few have. For so many fans of John Lennon, the relationship remains deeply personal, even after all these years.
Throughout high school, I spent much of my free time locked in my room with headphones on studying every beat, every note, every second of every Beatles song. My love of their music inspired me to play the guitar and write songs. And when my band wasn’t playing our songs in the basement, we were in my room marveling over the magic of Abbey Road’s medley or speeding up the end of Strawberry Fields to hear John’s “I buried Paul” or isolating the vocals to hear Paul’s voice crack for a split second on “If I Fell.”
We would then consume books and devour documentaries like “15 Hours With the Beatles.” We would have heated debates over albums and songs. Since I was the unabashed McCartney worshiper, I would take on the unenviable task of arguing how “London Town” matched up to “Abbey Road” or how “Girl’s School” was every bit as driving as “Get Back.”
And while our friends at school were listening to AC/DC, Kiss and Cheap Trick, we were isolated in the corner of the cafeteria talking about “Somewhere in New York City” and laughing over lines from the “Rutles.” This lonely obsession that started in 1977 made us seem more than a little quirky to our friends. It also had to be the cause of more than a few raised eyebrows from our parents.
I can understand now why they didn’t get it back then. That disconnect was laid bare the night we heard the news from Howard Cosell that John Lennon was dead. I sat watching Monday Night Football stunned and silent as my Dad walked through the room muttering that he liked Paul better. A friend on twitter, @Otoolefan, remembers his father telling him the next morning that “they shot Jack Lemmon last night.”
Many parents who suffered through the Great Depression and lost loved ones during World War II surely saw our angst as a little too much to bear. But my mother was a musician who understood the transcendence of music. She also understood that it was probably best to leave me alone with my headphones and Beatles records for the next several weeks.
What I found alone in my room is what I rediscovered last year when a dream of mine came true backstage at Radio City.
As a young congressman, I had been blessed to be able to meet any president, prime minister or politician. I had also met music heroes from B.B. King to U2 to Elvis Costello. All were exciting to meet, but none were Paul McCartney.
That chance came when Carole King was sweet enough to take me backstage to meet Sir Paul. Even the possibility seemed surreal since McCartney had impacted my life more than anyone outside of my family. As the day of the concert neared, a strange ambivalence swept over me. The day before the concert, I even told my wife I was thinking of skipping the chance at shaking my hero’s hand.
“What???” Susan asked incredulously. “I’ve never seen you scared of anyone or anything. Why in the world would you be afraid to meet Paul McCartney?”
It was a good point. People are people. Nothing more, nothing less. I have yet to meet a star who was worthy of worship. They just don’t exist anymore. In fact, I’m pretty sure they never did.
But I still couldn’t answer why I wanted to skip out on my lifelong dream of meeting Macca. Maybe it was Paul Simon’s fear that everything looks worse in black and white. Or maybe it was the fact that I could never tell him in a few seconds how he brought so much joy to so many years of my life. I just knew that the meeting would be short, awkward and leave me feeling a little empty.
Better not to pull back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz.
But I went ahead to Radio City, met Sir Paul McCartney, got my picture taken and managed to get out a few words. I don’t remember what they were but it was so surreal that I wouldn’t be surprised if I blurted out “I like purple” before quickly being escorted from the room.
After Carole and I left the backstage area and made it to our seats at Radio City, I realized that I had been right all along. I should have skipped the meeting and stayed home with my family. That regret lasted only as long as it took McCartney to strap a Hofner around his neck and rip into a supersonic rendition of “Jet.”
I was immediately transfixed–not by the myth, not by the legend, not by Beatle Paul. Instead, it was the music. As Carole and I jumped to our feet that night, I realized in an instant that the secret to their success had always been simple. The Beatles wrote remarkable songs.
For almost half a century, reporters and critics have tried to dissect why the Beatles had such an staggering impact on our times. After arriving in America in 1964, some suggested that Beatlemania was a needed distraction after the horror of JFK’s assassination. A few years later, critics would claim that the band was an outlet for a youth culture in rebellion against authority. And tonight, I am sure we will hear many try to explain again why so many of us still care about the Beatles 30 years after John’s death.
But in the end, all the philosophizing about the Beatles cultural transcendence is unadulterated bullshit. After all that has been written and said about the Liverpool band over the past 50 years, it still comes down their music.
The same music that moved me in 1980 moves my 7 year old daughter 30 years later. And the same magic that made me smile the first time I heard the back side of “Abbey Road” makes my 2 year old laugh when I pull out my guitar and sing him “Yellow Submarine.”
I spent a few hours today watching a BBC special on John’s life. The most revealing part of the documentary for me was a piece of film taken during John’s “Imagine” session. Lennon was told that a young, burned out straggler had made his way to John’s garden where he was spending much of his time.
The former Beatle left his session and walked outside to try to convince this lost soul to go home. As Lennon shot down every suggestion of cosmic connectivity between his songs and the drifter’s life, the Beatle who often had the sharpest edge revealed an inner sweetness that he seldom showed the world.
“Don’t confuse my songs with your life.”
The kid pushed back. Surely the lyrics to “I Dig a Pony” had a deeper meaning.
“I was just having fun with words” replied the retired dreamweaver.
“I’m just a guy.”
Maybe. But he and his bandmates also happened to create music that will bring joy to generations long after we are all gone. So tonight, I don’t have to go to Strawberry Fields to remember John. All I need are his songs.
I’ll put on my headphones, turn on “Number 9 Dream”, close my eyes, relax and float downstream
Memorials, merchandise for Lennon 70th anniversary
Reuters, Oct 6, 2010 11:00 pm PDT
LONDON (Reuters) – What would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday on Saturday will be marked around the world with memorials, music and plenty of merchandise.
Yoko Ono, Lennon’s widow and the guardian of his commercial and musical legacy, will lead the tributes from Iceland, where she will light the Imagine Peace Tower in memory of Lennon and perform with their son Sean.
In the singer’s birthplace Liverpool, Lennon’s first wife Cynthia and their child Julian are expected to unveil a monument dedicated to the artist and funded by the Global Peace Initiative involving young artists.
“Nowhere Boy,” a film about Lennon’s early years before he found fame and fortune with the Beatles, hits U.S. theatres on Friday and on Saturday, the documentary “LennonNYC” will be screened in New York, where he was killed on December 8, 1980.
The 30th anniversary of his murder at age 40 is expected to launch a new wave of Lennon-mania in December.
“It’s a strange phenomenon in a way, but probably the Beatles are more popular now than they ever were,” said Jerry Goldman, managing director of the Beatles Story museum in Liverpool which will be custodian of the new $350,000 monument.
“Lennon is the most iconic of them. His activities for peace with Yoko, his ‘bed-ins’, perhaps don’t count quite so much as the music,” he added.
“‘Imagine’ is a world anthem, as is ‘Give Peace a Chance’. Whenever people gather to protest … you are probably going to hear them singing a Lennon song. More than anything else it’s the music, and nobody has come close in recent years.”
Few would debate Lennon’s musical influence.
As one half of the key songwriting axis in the Beatles alongside Paul McCartney, Lennon was responsible for much of the band’s catalog, including seminal hits like “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “A Hard Day’s Night.”
As a solo artist after the group split in 1970, he went on to produce songs including Imagine, and became a symbol of opposition to the Vietnam War.
Lennon’s legacy is also big business. Critics have accused Ono and others of cashing in on his memory and betraying the ideals of a man who once sang “imagine no possessions.”
Ono has overseen the release of a digitally remastered Lennon catalog, including eight studio albums and several newly compiled titles, on the EMI Music label.
“Remastering was emotionally hard for me,” she wrote recently on Twitter.
“I felt John was at my side, and when I looked at my side, there was only an empty chair. I was crying, but still my job was to listen to John, like I used to … So I am a lucky girl.”
Ono also authorized Gibson to make three special edition acoustic guitars priced between $4,700 and $15,000.
Montblanc has produced a Lennon-related pen, complete with sapphires and diamonds and retailing in luxury magazines for a cool $27,000.
“It’s easy to lose sight of the music with all the surrounding Lennonphilia that, over the next few weeks, will be particularly cloying and suffocating,” said Brian Boyd, music columnist for the Irish Times.
Ono has defended her decision to allow Lennon’s name to be used to endorse products, saying it is the most effective way to keep his name and music in the public consciousness.
And in response to complaints in Britain earlier this year when archive footage of the singer was used in a car advertisement, son Sean tweeted: “Having just seen ad I realize why people are mad. But intention was not financial, was simply wanting to keep him out there in the world.”
From Huffington Post:
The formal dissolution of The Beatles was announced on April 10, 1970. And, with the end of the band, the story of Ringo Starr seemed set in concrete. You remember: Ringo, the last member of the band, shunted to the sidelines when the Beatles first recorded for George Martin but, in fact, an under-appreciated artist; his left-handed, backward fills and intuitive timing building the beat of modern rock music.
But there’s a lot more. For forty years now, Ringo, sometimes derided, but with the consistent rhythm of a steady backbeat, has become the living embodiment of the spirit of the Beatles.
Listen to the albums Ringo has released recently — culminating this year’s “Y Not” (the first album he has produced) and last year’s paean to his home town, “Liverpool 8.” You will hear the story of the Beatles being told, and retold. How?
First, with the playful introspection exhibited through an intricate web of references linking one song to another. As the Beatles looked increasingly to their own lives and work for inspiration, their songs created an ever-growing structure of self-reference — the lyrics of “Glass Onion,” for example, refer to five earlier Beatles songs — some of which refer, in turn, to others still. So when, in this year’s “Peace Dream” Ringo calls on us to “try to ‘Imagine'” what happens if we “Give Peace a Chance,'” he’s continuing to weave a tapestry of meaning around their legacies.
By no means has Ringo become a songwriter in the class of John, Paul or George. But as Ringo himself has told us, “It does no good for you to play a pretty song like ‘Yesterday’ ’cause that’s not what I need to say.”
What Ringo needs to say through his songs is the second important ingredient of his legacy, namely The Beatles’ message of love, cosmic harmony and the meaning of life. In “R U Ready,” he invokes Jesus, the Buddha and a blues preacher to say that there will be someone to catch each of us at life’s end. And can’t you hear more than a hint of George, the most spiritual of the four, when Ringo intones the thought that “One and one is only one until you become one with you”?
And then there’s peace and love. Ringo may be the last person on earth who regularly flashes the two-finger peace sign. CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE:
Some people have velvet Elvis or Pop Art Marylyn Monroe in their living rooms. I have a John Lennon drawing that I bought in Central Park, along with a picture of Strawberry Fields, the memorial to John Lennon.
Mark David Chapman took greatness. He shouldn’t be walking this earth. John would forgive him but I do not. I cannot forgive the man for putting a bullet in John Lennon and taking him from his loving wife and adoring public.
“All we are saying, is give peace a chance.”
John Lennon’s words are never outdated.
He is peace. I miss him. The world misses him. RIP, Great Man of Peace.
Sean Lennon and a naked Kemp Muhl (a model and his girlfriend) have recreated the iconic Rolling Stone cover of Lennon’s parents, Yoko Ono and John Lennon, taken by Annie Leibovitz.
The pic, snapped by Terry Richardson, was taken for the fall issue of Purple magazine.
Sean stays clothed, in the Yoko role, while Muhl is nude and curled up against his side. Unlike John Lennon, she even shows some nipple.
If this pose seems familiar then you probably remember Madonna’s video for Like A Virgin.
Now, 25 years on, the Queen of Pop’s daughter, Lourdes, has re-created the iconic look. Footage apparently taken from a shoot for Madonna’s latest video, Celebration, shows the 12-year-old, right, dressed in a very similar guise to her mother’s outfit for the 1984 video.
But perhaps Madonna, 51, realised (sic) the look could offend some fans and it was removed from the final edit.