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I haven’t been thinking a lot about The Beatles or John Lennon lately, which is why you haven’t seen me around here. But today being John Lennon’s 80th birthday, I was awakened with this article from Esquire.com in my Twitter feed: “The Difficulty of Remembering John Lennon Today,” by Alan Light. “Why does John Lennon, for decades one of the world’s most beloved figures,” Light writes, “seem to be coming under increased scrutiny, and getting a more critical look, from younger generations?”
The article makes some interesting observations and you’ll enjoy it, but the answer is really quite simple.
The Lennon who lived for forty years remains a fascinating, inspiring, historically important character. All his friends and colleagues agree on something that was obvious even from the peanut gallery: Lennon was hugely talented, hugely funny and charismatic…and hugely flawed. Even now, many of us think, “I wonder what John Lennon would say about x?” Quickly followed by, “He would be cancelled. Weekly. J.K. Rowling x1000.”
But that guy hasn’t been around for four decades. What we’ve lived with for the last forty years hasn’t been Lennon the person, but Lennon the brand and…people are sick of it, especially people born after 1980. They think it’s bullshit. Because it IS bullshit, like all brands are bullshit. And they don’t have memories of the authentic guy to offset the marketing nonsense. Get More Information from this source on the best marketing services available in town.
On December 9th, 1980, Yoko Ono launched her most ambitious concept piece ever: she was going to turn her dead husband—and, by extension, herself—into a stand-in for the concept of “Peace.” This was a bad idea—all PR, being a type of propaganda, is a bad idea. But in the era of Old Media, if you had enough money and the right friends, you could pull it off. Back in 1980, there were people who truly thought Liberace had just never found the right girl.
This also wasn’t a new idea. Yoko had been obsessed with it since 1969 at least. Lennon-as-product makes perfect sense if you look at it as an extension not of John Lennon as a real person, or John and Yoko’s life together as it really was, but as a continuation of their Peace Campaign of 1969. Its virtues and faults are the same; well-funded media omnipresence and a genial message, with nothing specific at the center. As politics, it’s shambolic and vague, but harmless; they want peace in the same way that you love spaghetti. Peace, JohnandYoko said, was a product; so, too became John Lennon.
Except…products are simple. They’re not people; they don’t have a past. They don’t have statements you can dissect, or opinions that can fall out of favor. Even Goya beans don’t get drunk, or hit people. The release of more and more information about Lennon the man—from biographies, or even Yoko herself—and the continuing project of making him into a kind of secular saint were in direct conflict, and this tension was supercharged by the internet. You know, the place where the past doesn’t exist, and hypocrisy is the worst thing ever. Living in a celebrity culture John Lennon did so much to create, and taking his Beatles work completely for granted, when people under 40 encounter John Lennon, it’s often through something like this Cracked article saying, “John Lennon was an abusive asshole who hit women.”
The problem Light’s outlining isn’t with John Lennon as a person; it’s with Yoko’s idea of “peace.” It’s what it’s always been: an eccentric rich lady’s hobby. There’s nothing real there. So eventually, normal people resent it. Normal people crave peace; they’re dying for peace. They don’t want concepts, and they don’t want celebrities spouting platitudes at them from the top of the heap. They don’t want to be lectured from atop capitalism’s pile of bones.
But was John Lennon the person a hypocrite? I honestly don’t think so. Most of the most damning things we know about him come from his own interviews, his own mouth. And for all his tendency to work the press, I do think there’s was a genuine commitment towards getting a handle on his temper and his misogyny. He’s consistent throughout his life: I think he wanted to be a good father, a good husband, and a good person. At 80, he would be significantly closer to those goals than he was at 40. I know I am.
Even with all the damning admissions, it’s possible that John Lennon could’ve still become the Prince of Peace, except for one thing: Yoko didn’t want to share him with The Beatles. This made for a much harder, more complicated sell. According to the Estate, John Lennon is very, very important and influential, totally a genius whose work will last for centuries, BUT…only the stuff he did after May 1968. We’re supposed to like all his stuff that didn’t sell, the stuff that requires special pleading (“Yoko worked with Fluxus!”) or the stuff given poignancy by his death. All the specials Light mentions in his article? I won’t watch any of ’em. Because they’ll gloss over the most interesting, most important parts of his life, and spin the same old sad tale of what-might’ve-been—and not what might have been for all of us, if he’d reunited The Beatles, but what might’ve been personally for John, Yoko and Sean. Which is sad, but…Brionna Taylor had family, too. Tragedy isn’t more important when it happens to a rock star. What’s important about John Lennon, the reason we’re remembering him today isn’t his death; it isn’t “Watching the Wheels” or even “Imagine.” It’s The Beatles, and until the Estate reflects that truth, this hypocritical tension is going to remain.
To me, Light’s burying the lede: Lennon’s band, The Beatles, has become a developmental stage for children throughout the West. And it’s done so because that band, more than any other, is synonymous with what Yoko’s tried to claim for John and herself: harmony, fun, art, peace and love. At the heart of The Beatles, there is something real; not a concept, not a loose-limbed late 60’s “happening,” but a bunch of really great songs. Not the artists, but the art.
And it’s because everybody still listens to The Beatles, and loves them at five years old, that they’ve gotten so uncool. This will continue. They will continue to drop in the eyes of 23-year-old music fans and 35-year-old editors of pop culture websites. And specifically the portion of Lennon that relies on being cool—the period when he rejected The Beatles and became a dedicated follower of fashion (be it artistic or political or cultural), will continue to get hokier, feel more dated, and be ever-more out-of-step with contemporary culture. The miraculous five years where he drove the culture will be ignored. To media folks hungry to promote the now, The Beatles’ transformative impact on music, the music business, and pop culture will seem more and more inevitable, more and more like “it was bound to happen” rather than the result of those four brilliant guys doing specifically that brilliant work between 1963-68. John Lennon will continue to be flawed; and his Beatles music will continue to be beloved. This was even happening in 1980, when Sean came home and asked his retired father, “Daddy, were you in the Beatles?” after watching Yellow Submarine at a friend’s house.
Because I’ve never believed in Saint John, I’ve never felt the slightest conflict. Given where he’d come from, and who he was, the idea that he’d get drunk/high, and then get violent was completely unsurprising. To believe otherwise was to ignore something essential to who Lennon began as, what he made himself into, and the nature of his ongoing personal quest. There is a vast reservoir of anger in Lennon, and it’s visible even in the cheeriest slices of Beatlemania. We should acknowledge this, then get the hell over it. There would not have been a Beatles—even the lullabies!—without that rage. To change the world you have to find our current one fundamentally wanting; the way things are has to really bother you. You can’t just love spaghetti. Deep down, we all know this, and all four Beatles show this dissatisfaction, though it is John’s role within the mythology to be the angry one.
Paul’s complexities do not seem at odds with his charm; though certainly one could assemble a prosecution brief, nobody seems driven to do so. And George? There’s a whole lot more there besides what Light calls “mystic spirituality”—for one thing, sex and drug misbehavior to rival any 70s rock star not named Keith Moon—but nobody feels the need to address that. Even Martin Scorsese, in his otherwise comprehensive documentary Living in the Material World, glosses over Harrison’s dark 1970s. And I don’t mind that, do you? Do you feel the need to talk about Ringo’s alcoholism? I don’t. The important thing is the music, and the joy.
So why the need to perceive Lennon warts-and-all? I believe it is the tension between the person he clearly was and the plaster saint Yoko has insisted upon. The moment Boomer media hegemony began to crack—as people like Jann Wenner reluctantly shuffled off to their luxury compounds in Wyoming—Lennon’s personal flaws began to outshine his artistic virtues. Yoko drops her truth bombs, periodically, shocking those who never read a biography. And hearing Donny Osmond or Gene Simmons or even Liam Gallagher say that they were inspired to become musicians by John Lennon and his Beatles is likely to strike someone under 40 as…not quite a compliment. “Why the fuck would anyone like Donny Osmond? And Lennon was a wife-beater? Jesus.”
To be honest, I’ve always found Yoko’s periodic releases of negative tidbits more than a little strange. She’s never said anything Albert Goldman didn’t write decades before. If I had to guess, I think it’s an attempt to pivot—as pop culture has become less male, and white, and Euro-centric, Yoko has wanted to stay relevant, so she’s cutting loose from the old bad boyfriend. It’s been particularly cringeworthy when she’s enlisted Sean into this, because “relevance” is a fantasy, now more than ever. Diversity reigns. Old icons are smashed, new ones rise, then are smashed in turn. As George might’ve said (when he wasn’t snorting coke off a hooker’s breasts), “The only constant is change.”
So what shall I leave you with on John Lennon’s 80th birthday? Only this: let us rejoice in the smashing of the plaster saint. That would be a nice present; it’s what John wanted, and told us all so every chance he got. Saint John Lennon is dead—long live the flawed human being, the unsaintly man who performed a miracle, the man who invented The Beatles.
Christ! And I thought I was the only one.
My local PBS station ran two John Lennon specials, one on the recording of POB and one on Lennon’s life in New York, and I skipped them both. And then I started worrying about myself for not wanting to tune in. “Am I burned out on the Beatles? Am I sick of John Lennon?”
But it’s The Estate I’m weary of. What did Lennon say about Christianity? “Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary.”
I think that’s where I’m at with John&Yoko™. Lennon was all right but The Estate is thick and ordinary.
Yeah, I’m with you, @Sam. A special about the Dakota years is likely to be particularly infuriating, because there’s a real story there–one of a generational talent dealing with mental illness and, it seems, conquering it. Instead we’d get the usual narrative, which is only interesting if you’re prepared not to look too closely. But then, what’s the point? It’s like watching a documentary about how Tootsie Rolls are made, but not being allowed inside the factory.
Even POB is most interesting in the context of what won’t be talked about — “I don’t believe in Beatles” is the knockout punch of the LP. Even its sparseness and revelatory nature is a reaction to the status quo the Beatles made. To be interested in POB by itself, you either need to interested in all of Lennon’s ups and downs, or be totally in the tank for rock as it was being made in 1970. That is, Jann Wenner.
The Beatles Anthology has been successful to the degree that it has given important cultural events historical perspective. We’d all experienced The Beatles story to some degree, but why was it important? What happened behind the scenes of this event? The Estate demands historical perspective for events that have proved not to be culturally that important, so it weirdly diminishes everybody involved.
As always Michael, a breath of fresh air. One day you’re gonna get your ass cancelled;-)
Well, a breath of something, that’s for sure.
Nice to hear from you, bub. Hope you and the missus are well.
Happy birthday, John. Wish you were here and still speaking your mind. Maybe have a blog of your own. The PBS specials were great. Listened to a few Paul interviews this past week, as well. Breath of fresh air, they were not. He can’t have been that dull in real life, if John liked him. John made people laugh. That’s better than most things in life.
@Michelle, John did make people laugh — and his writing/drawing was genuinely good, too. The man was loaded with talent.
Excellent article! I especially love the part about the fact that it’s not John himself who is the hypocrite but what people project on him that is hypocritical.
I think the whole Lennon brand or St Lennon brand is exasperated because they’ve reissued a lot of his albums this year and also because Covid, Black Lives Matter and all the political unrest has made a lot of Johns views and music from the 60-70s seem more relevant and therefore more sellable to today’s generation. I’m curious to see what the man who wrote a whole song tearing down false idols, including the Beatles, would feel about his estate turning him into one? I mean even Ringo has become a St Lennon Peace and love celebrity brand ambassador.
First of all this is not a comment on any opinions or views I’ve seen of John by people on this website; but my two cents- I think the problem with the current critical re-evaluation of John by mainly the younger generations is how much they really don’t seem to know about John the person despite the wealth of research out there.
I’ve posted this before but for instance “John is a wife-beater, abuser” generalisations. I noticed even on tweets or Instagram posts celebrating Johns birthday today- including by Johns sons- that people can’t help themselves.
Was John violent in his younger years or while under the influence of massive amounts of alcohol? Yes. Did he hit Cynthia? Yes- by her own admission once, she broke up with him and it didn’t happen again. Yoko has never said he hit her. Someone told me that May Pang said he hit her but I havent seen any article stating as such and I haven’t read her book. Given all the affairs John had with women there hasn’t been other women who’ve come out as being victims of abuse.
Did he have a pattern of abusive and violent behaviour towards women indicative of him being consistently abusive towards all women? There’s no reliable evidence to suggest that at all.
I think I get just as aggravated by the over villianizing of John by contemporary commentators as I do by those who nominate him for saint hood.
I think the wife beater stuff aggravates me to as a woman because; I don’t condone that he hit Cynthia- that was not okay. But there is a large spectrum of difference between that and real actual abusers and the emotional mental and physical damage they inflict. It just minimises real abuse.
As you said Michael why is it so hard for people to reflect on John as a hugely talented, hugely entertaining AND hugely flawed and insecure person who accepted that about himself but wanted and tried his hardest to do and be better.
Hello. It’s only my second or third time posting here, I usually just read, but this particular aspect of the John Lennon myth vs reality has always been really compelling to me so I hope you don’t mind me wading in!
I completely agree with you LeighAnn, and Michael, on the posthumous branding/narrative. I’ve also never really thought of John Lennon as a hypocrite, mainly because he was so cracked open and vulnerable that almost everything bad we know about him, as Michael pointed out, was addressed or explored by him at some point in his short life, either verbally or through his art.
One thing I’m not sure about here though, is the evaluation of the evidence we have of John Lennon being abusive to women. I think we should be really careful about framing hitting your partner as not ‘real abuse’ because it only happened once. I can only speak from my experience, and I wouldn’t presume to know about anyone else’s familiarity with domestic abuse but I witnessed domestic abuse as a child, experienced it as an adult, and I work with people who are living with abusers now. DA perpetrators tend to be calculated and in control of their abuse. They’ll often tell their victim that they ‘lost control’ as a result of the victim’s behaviour. But the truth is often that these abusers keep their place in society precisely because they are able to maintain control and present an entirely different persona outside of their home. That’s often why victims of DA don’t speak up – they fear they won’t be believed. And unfortunately, often, that turns out to be the case.
I agree with you that this doesn’t seem like an accurate picture of John Lennon who, from what I understand, was indiscriminately violent rather than a manipulative or controlled abuser. But May Pang’s book paints a stark picture. According to her recollection, he was chillingly violent towards her on more than one occasion. I also think that using the argument that none of John’s lovers who aren’t Cynthia/Yoko/May have ever mentioned John’s abuse is misleading because we don’t know much about his other romantic/sexual partners to begin with.
That line you draw between how he behaved and ‘real abuse’ is far blurrier in my mind. I have vast and almost limitless empathy and compassion for John Lennon as we know him. But sitting alongside that is the fact that, to my mind, he was abusive – indiscriminately, but to women especially. From the female reporter he allegedly hit for asking if he was faithful to Cynthia to the Troubadour waitress, from publicly asking Jane Asher how she masturbated to pissing in Jayne Mansfield’s drink, from following a woman around without her consent and filming her for his ‘art movie’ to crawling under tables in a club and taking photos up girls’ skirts, he serially committed real abuse in the form of acts of violence and aggression towards women. We have far more evidence supporting the claim of abusive behaviour – to his wives, to women in general and to his children – than we do evidence that disproves it or casts it into doubt. I don’t think his violence was calculated as much as it was a genuine lack of control and self regulation, a lot of which seems to have stemmed from some very serious addiction and mental health issues. But I’d bet he was more violent towards both his wives than we know, for almost the inverse reason to the one that could ID a domestic abuser – he couldn’t control his violent tendencies outside his relationships, so it seems highly unlikely that he could do so within them.
I do completely agree with you that simply labelling him a ‘wife beater’ and cancelling him dismisses all the other complexities and serious personal issues underlying his behaviour. The fact that he admitted to and was sorry for his behaviour is admirable as growth and a demonstration of personal responsibility, but it doesn’t absolve him of the harm he caused. Both things need to be explored and acknowledged honestly, I think, without threat of ‘cancellation’.
I love this comment. Would you be willing to make it into a post?
For my part, I think Lennon was unquestionably a very abusive guy—he could and did abuse people—and those tendencies were exacerbated by addiction and a whole mechanism in place hiding or minimizing his abusing. From the age of 22 on, John Lennon was a gravy train for a lot of people, and none of them were going to let that end. Plus there was the psychology of his victims; the psychology of patriarchy; and so forth. Abusers thrive in our fundamentally abusive society. When we talk about Brian’s “fixing,” for example, we’re talking about two things: something that kept the Beatles going and making music; but also something unfair, something that allowed those Beatles to get and stay psychologically sick, get away with things, and do harm.
Here’s the thing that’s so fascinating and worth discussion: Lennon was BOTH fantastically charismatic, and an abuser. He gave a ton to the world, and took a ton from the people around him. Those two things were probably so intertwined as to be inextricable.
To me, canceling him is too easy. Saying that his desire for peace is hypocritical coming from an abuser — too easy. Perhaps in dealing with him fully, we can figure out how to reduce the negative impact of others like him. Because show biz is FULL of abusers of his scale to much, much worse. Without telling tales that aren’t mine to tell, it is practically made of abusers, from the agents and managers on up. It rewards people who think of others as lesser; it rewards people who act out; it attracts those that can’t regulate their emotions; it enables basically anything, as long as the money keeps flowing. What is excused is proportional to how much you’re making powerful people, and the Beatles made people a LOT of money.
This is why I’m always surprised that there doesn’t seem to be Jeffery Epstein-sized skeletons in The Beatles’ closets (Brian’s closets are a different story — I fully believe he and Jacobs and that crowd got up to nasty stuff). But John Lennon is proof of something really important: people who do bad things don’t always look like Harvey Weinstein. They don’t walk around wearing t-shirts saying, “I am a bad person and you should stay away.” They are often, in my experience, particularly attractive in some way; they have to be, to keep getting away with what they do. And if we want to build a better, fairer world, we have to get a lot better at seeing abusers as they are. For one thing, that allows us to quit blaming the abused party. “Why didn’t you see? Why did you go up to his room? Etc.” That question is cruel and immaterial and ignores that abusers are not aliens, which is the most uncomfortable thing of all.
Thanks Michael – I’d love to turn it into a post if you’re up for that too, I know it’s a thorny thing. Let me know how?
I completely agree on the skeletons and the structure put in place around the Beatles. That cupboard must be filled to the brim, it’s amazing and sinister that we don’t know more. The sheer number of women that ended up in a touring Beatle bed must be mind boggling, and they were four 1940s-born young men who saw women as the spoils of showbusiness, not equals or partners or even real people. To be honest, listening to any Beatle talk about women outside the medium of song makes me want to break things most of the time.
I could believe anything about the Beatles. If it turned out that the entire story from start to finish happened exactly as documented and sanctioned, I could believe it. If it turned out that they were dark and twisted and had lied about everything in their story, I could easily believe that too. There’s endless scope for darkness in between the lines of the official story – some of it has started to seep out, like John’s stuff, although he mainly drove that initially – and I think the people around them were enablers.
I agree with so much of what you’ve said above, and the point about him giving as well as taking is a crucial one for me. The amount of good John did and strove for is still absolutely astonishing to me, struggling as he did with very serious anger and addiction issues, and his mental health. That’s no easy feat. To me, John’s most redeeming feature, and the one that separates him optically from a Harvey Weinstein/Jeffrey Epstein character has always been his tangible humanity. And that’s what the Estate’s version of him completely lacks, with its dead-eyed Peace Prophet persona.
The mismatch between the Estate’s version and the reality makes him seem like a psychopath, which I don’t think he was. He had vast empathy, warmth and kindness in him, he was nowhere near as smart and calculating as he thought he was (which I find endearing), and he didn’t seem single-minded or secretive about anything – he was always updating his views and spilling out contradicting opinions and admissions of guilt everywhere he went. He was also funny and disarming and had a genuine sweetness to him. None of that is to say that he couldn’t have been hiding even worse things, just that all the things we know he did wrong, we know about because he told us and then other people have elaborated on his admissions either directly or indirectly. That’s quite unusual.
I’m also highly aware that he has been dead for 40 years and it’s much easier to be balanced and empathetic towards people who are no longer able to cause physical harm. People do terrible things all the time, I don’t think that can be stopped – we’re really the worst. Pretending people don’t exist once their bad behaviour comes to light solves nothing. And if we keep taking the possibility of redemption or restitution away from people who have done bad things, what motivation has anyone got to get/do/be better going forward?
Cancelling someone who has done bad things is backwards. Holding them accountable and setting clear progress markers down is absolutely necessary, though. For the reasons you mentioned above Michael – if we don’t acknowledge that people who have done bad things are also people who write and desperately mean ‘All You Need is Love’, then we’ll never progress because we keep trying to ‘other’ the bad people and pretend they’re not just like us too.
Greatest comment ever. Thank you for it!
I don’t think his violence was calculated as much as it was a genuine lack of control and self regulation
I’d like to believe that. But until evidence surfaces of John getting violent with anyone other than women or men he knew he could beat, it’s hard to. Did he ever pick a fight with a cop? A teacher? An employer? A significant authority figure? A big dude who subsequently kicked the crap out of him? If not, that makes his violence pretty damn “calculated” imo. And makes me think of May’s account of him trashing their apartment in a rage, and then afterward saying “wow, I’ve never done that to my own stuff before.”
This is why I don’t spend too much time thinking about John Lennon as a person outside the context of his relationships with the other Beatles and Beatle-adjacents. He was a brilliant artist, of course. Plus something perhaps even rarer: funny and watchable as hell. I could easily see him forming some sort of pre-Python Pythons.
I don’t have a beef with “cancel culture” or whatever you want to call it. Is it always constructive? Nah. Does it go too far sometimes? Probably. But I’m always suspicious of backlashes against generational “movements,” be it #MeToo or BLM or cancel culture. “Sure, abusers have been enabled and excused and exalted for literal millennia, but for the past 5 years they’ve been maybe a little too harshly treated, and that’s just as bad!”
The deeper changes needed in the world of celebrity and beautiful people is not anything the average person can do much about. What they can do is withhold their money and applause, which is basically what “cancel culture” is about. It ain’t fun when it’s aimed at a celebrity you like, but people have every right to see terrible behavior in someone with unimaginable wealth and power and go, “Nah. No way am I gonna go increasing that wealth and power.” If that means they never delve into that person’s redeeming qualities, so be it.
Outstanding post as it reflects a keen, and unfiltered, knowledge of the nature of violent individuals. Your remark that Lennon’s inability to control his anger outside of a relationship is potentially indicative of also being unable to control it within a relationship is particularly apt.
Some very sad truths in your post. Thanks for posting this.
You’re welcome, @Neal.
“Ultimately, one of the terrible effects of John Lennon’s murder is that it turned him into exactly what he never wanted to be—a martyr. The real reason he seems too distant, too unapproachable, for listeners today is that they likely see him first as a victim, a symbol, not a complex and flawed and unfinished individual. He even spoke about this trap himself, once describing the danger of turning Gandhi and Martin Luther King into “The Leader and the Saint and the Holy Man Who Does No Wrong.”
“Nobody likes saints alive,” he said. “They like them dead. And we don’t intend to be dead saints. We’d rather be living freaks.”
I love this!!
Wonderful piece Michael. I really enjoyed it.
I’m wondering since the younger folks didn’t grow up with John, they don’t have the same feelings for him. Also, Paul has continued to be in the public eye, touring and releasing new music, so he may hold a more favorable view of him, just because they know him better.
Also, given things tend to be cyclical, maybe future Beatle fans will see him more favorably.
@Tasmin, I didn’t think about that angle, but I think it’s a really good one. John Lennon the person, as he came through your television or radio, or you saw him on the street, was very, very different and so much better than any subsequent historical version of him. He seemed like (weird to say) your friend? He was an interesting, funny, intelligent friend. That’s why people were so broken up when he died.
If I had to come up with one reason I wanted to do this blog, ‘way back when, it was to reconnect with that friend, and the other three friends, who I know less well.
It’s difficult to explain how…refreshing John Lennon was. How he wasn’t a rock star. How he seemed to offer the kind of access and intimacy that social media seems to confer now. But he was the only one doing it, and it didn’t seem calculated. Now everybody’s emailable; everybody’s sharing their miscarriage on Twitter.
Old show biz was really alienating for everybody concerned, audience and star alike. Prior to The Beatles, celebrities weren’t relatable as people, and the process of “making it” was precisely one of becoming something different from the fan you’d been before. That’s why you did it! The power of the Beatles was that they were simultaneously your friends and The Beatles. I once heard someone say that he was “sure that he and John Lennon would’ve been friends, if they’d ever met.” I think John got annoyed by this assumption, which was constant.
One of the hallmarks of our current era (for better and worse) is the democratization of celebrity, and that started specifically with The Beatles, John most of all. John Lennon’s greatest gift–yes, even more than the music–was his ability to seem to connect with each fan, seemingly intimately, as a seeming equal. This was revolutionary, and nobody in the public sphere, with the possible exception of Barack Obama, has had that kind of gift in equal measure since.
Like I said, I think this ability to connect ultimately bugged John; as he grew healthier, and began to really define himself as a person not just a Beatle, I think he came to feel it as an imposition, as a type of fan craziness. (Remember, he was one of the four people who didn’t experience The Beatles; the kind of stardom he was aiming for was that old style kind.) Setting aside the question of whether the connection was real, if you felt this connection with John Lennon as millions and millions did, he was the opposite of a plaster saint. He was your friend, and just as you know your friends have done things they’ve regretted, you knew that he was flawed. I mean, he told you, and didn’t spare the details. But that was nothing compared to what he gave you.
If you experienced that, Yoko’s campaign seems like something very strange, something very contrived and false, that has nothing to do with the guy you “knew.” Something that, in fact, is the exact opposite of your friend John.
“@Tasmin, I didn’t think about that angle, but I think it’s a really good one. John Lennon the person, as he came through your television or radio, or you saw him on the street, was very, very different and so much better than any subsequent historical version of him.”
For myself, I become a Beatle fan in high school. I was a sophomore when John was killed, so I didn’t really know much about him. I was more into Paul, because I liked Wings. So it makes sense that like you said, the historical John is not as intriguing as he was to Boomers who grew up with him.
Really well said, Michael. One thing that bugged me about the Lignt article was his saying that Lennon sang “I used to be cruel to my woman and beat her.”
If you’re doing a think piece on Lennon, do your research and check your facts. “Getting Better” was written primarily by Paul and sung by Paul — which matters because it shows the cultural context ALL the Beatles came from. The tendency to overemphasize Lennon’s violence is warping a lot of analyses, IMO.
Looking for perfect heroes is an adolescent stage, and one we should all grow out of. At his best Lennon proclaimed that clearly.
Nancy, that’s right on.
One of the real flaws of magazine-style journalism is how often it’s “writing to order.” The assignment here was, “Write about John Lennon in the era of #metoo,” and that’s what Light did. Problem is, that’s all he did. You could’ve just as easily have written a piece stating that Lennon’s transformation from a sadly typical misogynist to a more enlightened individual is precisely what #metoo is trying to accomplish, and that getting stuck on his supposed hypocrisy (“All you need is love, right asshole?”) is internet/social foolishness.
Yes, thank you! That line is frequently used as “proof” for John’s supposed violence toward women. To use a lyric as evidence of behavior goes to show that, like LeighAnn said, there isn’t much evidence out there and people are reaching to support their belief. Paul sang that line and John’s contribution was harmony and the famous “It can’t get much worse.” The phrase “kept her apart from the things that she loved” could easily refer to Paul wanting Jane to forgo her acting career to put all her attention into their relationship. But again, it’s just lyrics and not necessarily autobiographical.
John did tell David Sheff that line was his in the 1980 Playboy interview: “It is a diary form of writing. 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, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything’s the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. 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.”
Laura, thanks for that correction. I didn’t recall that “Getting Better” was co-written to the degree that it was. But since it’s Paul singing those lines, I think my point still stands up: they’re about a whole generation of men / way of being with women that all the Beatles and their peers experienced, to some extent. They’re not ONLY about John Lennon, in other words, even if John was writing about himself there.
What I mean is this: all the Beatles came from a place and time where it wouldn’t (to Nikki’s point) have been seen as abuse to hit a woman occasionally. It was just “the way things were,” something that was tacitly accepted, even if it wasn’t talked about. That was the default setting, so to speak, and it took some effort and enlightenment to get past it. Lennon seemed to be the most likely member of the group to engage in this kind of violence, by his own admission, but he also was willing to examine his behavior, admit his faults, and work to change it. For that I think he deserves credit.
I agree 100%. And the author WAS wrong about who sang the line.
Right on with this, @Nancy.
I mean Ringo admitted to being physically abusive in his past relationship with Maureen and was also a massive alcoholic and yet he doesn’t seem to get “cancelled” the way people try to with John.
Because Ringo doesn’t seem to be a hypocrite. It’s John’s wanting to position himself as a guru that makes people criticize him. And after he died, the hagiography turned up to 11, so the criticism has, too. But he didn’t do that. Yoko did that.
I beg to differ, @Michael. While it may have been thrust upon him (like much of John’s was), we all have the image of Ringo the peacemaker who was gentle and good with kids.
Ringo was and is that, and that’s to his credit. But he’s also the guy who says, if not for the Beatles, he would’ve been a criminal. My point is simply that these people contain multitudes, and given the business they are in, how difficult it is and the stakes involved, plus the reality of public relations, We should be careful about assuming we know too much about them as people.
“Looking for perfect heroes is an adolescent stage, and one we should all grow out of. At his best Lennon proclaimed that clearly.“
Well said Nancy.
On a coincidental note, I noticed on Paul’s Twitter page, he posted a 9th Anniversary wish to Nancy. I never realized this before, but Paul and Nancy got married on October 9th, Johns birthday. Did Paul purposely do that?
Other people mentioned it in their responses to the Tweet, only now realizing that fact even though it was widely noted in the press when the wedding took place. I remember reading that Paul and Nancy gave him a toast that night, so who knows? Maybe it was his way of having John attend in spirit, or he wanted to ensure that he would never forget his wedding anniversary LOL.
Anthony Bourdain is also someone of the modern or current era who I think came close to capturing the unique, authentic and refreshing ability John had to speak his mind and connect and engage with people. And who also by accounts had the similar insecurity, isolation and mental illness struggles John had despite almost universal admiration.
AND ADDICTION! Addiction may be a key to that superpower, or caused by it.
Yes very true!
Also this was an interesting read from an article in the telegraph- another example of how his vision was before his time and if he had gone on tour how he would have broken ground-
When John Lennon was gunned down outside his New York apartment on the night of 8 December 1980, the world mourned the death of one of the twentieth century’s cultural icons. The blizzard of shocked eulogising that followed inevitably focused on Lennon’s past as a Beatle.
But the attention on the musician’s legacy eclipsed a tantalising fact: Lennon was just months away from embarking on what could have been one of the most ambitious tours in rock history. The 40-year-old’s ‘One World, One People’ tour was shaping up to be a futuristic extravaganza that was years ahead of its time.
With uncanny prescience given how concerts have evolved in the decades since, Lennon envisaged a tour using holograms and giant video screens. His avant-garde stage was to resemble a colossal crab with roving claws onto which were attached video cameras to relay images back to the screens. The singer was also considering pay-per-view screenings to cater for the 1980s’ burgeoning cable TV audience. Six years before David Bowie took his Glass Spider around the world and 11 years before U2 unleashed their postmodern multimedia Zoo TV Tour, the Liverpudlian had imagined the template.
See I’m not so sure he really ever wanted to get back to performing regularly. Those ideas are kind of typical of Lennon/Beatles wild pie in the sky schemes (Abbey Road’s supposed Everest photo shoot, the idea of all the Beatles buying Greek islands…some kind of Magic Alex scheme I’m sure) he would be prone to wild ideas just never really follow through. I doubt he would with this too.
Double Fantasy was released but Lennon still lived in a rich mans semi exile. He gave a few interviews…but he didn’t go on any TV program to perform any songs or give in person recorded interviews on any major news show. To me it didn’t seem like he was interesting in doing anything else but putting out an album and doing a few interviews here and there
Jack Douglas and others said he was planning a world tour in 1981. I kind of believe him over the hunches of someone who never met him. And what is so outlandish about a world tour?
@Michelle, remember that the guy who told Jack Douglas that was the same fellow who just a year before was showing no indications of ever performing music in public ever again. There’s nothing outlandish about a world tour, but John Lennon had just spent the previous five years not practicing his profession, in total seclusion; artists who love being rock stars do not do that. As I said downthread, I think it’s very likely that he would’ve played some dates in 1981, maybe even started a World Tour — but the commercial success of Double Fantasy came after his death. Risking being seen as lesser than Paul or Mick and the Stones, going out to tour on a middling LP, doing something that he’d never shown tremendous enthusiasm for even when he was in the biggest band in the world…I could easily see him sitting backstage in Detroit in March 1981 thinking, “They all want to hear Beatles songs, the hotel has shitty food, Yoko hates the tour bus and thinks I’m fucking around on her, I miss Sean, why the fuck am I doing this?”
Or it could’ve been a triumph.
One of the most fascinating, tantalizing things about Lennon is that he was completely unpredictable, and never more so than in 1980.
Middling LP? Double Fantasy might not “rawk” like you expect with John Lennon but some of my favorite solo songs of his are on that album. It’s convenient to say that the album’s commercial success came after his death. According to the Steve Hoffman forums, it went gold in the weeks leading up to his murder, and several people on there who worked in record stores at the time said it was moving well despite competition from Springsteen and the like. They said it was destined to be in the Top 10, maybe not #1, had he not been killed. Opinions vary, and you seem to side with the critics of the day, but it was selling well.
Well, I do settle with the critics of the day, but I settle with them because I was a Beatles (and Lennon) MAD 11-year-old who couldn’t wait to buy John Lennon’s comeback album…which I found disappointing. For one thing, it was half Yoko which, no offense to her and her music, but I want to hear Lennon, not Ono, and the only person who ever thought those two things fit like chocolate and peanut butter was John himself. Nobody else.
For another thing, I didn’t, and don’t, share John’s affinity for 50s style rock, which “Starting Over” was built on. So I liked that song, the big single, but didn’t love it. “Watching the Wheels” was great, but down tempo and — put simply, not aimed at or connecting with the pop audience. Similarly, “Woman” — songs that we now cherish as reflecting John’s personal experience from 1975-80 were not cherished upon release because they didn’t have the element of tragedy and nostalgia that makes them most of their artistic power. As songs? How is “Woman” any better than “Oh Yoko!”? How’s it any different, even?
By 1980, for lots of reasons, whatever you defined as “rawk” John Lennon was nowhere near that. My opinion is that Double Fantasy was likely going to be something along the order of Mind Games — respectable, a good release by a major creator in a minor period. Anybody who remembers different, is perhaps remembering how Everything Changed on the morning of December 9th. That’s really the story here, not my or anybody’s opinion of Double Fantasy before the murder. Lennon’s murder made it something historical, his Last Album, and rightly celebrated as such. But before then? Pleasant, personal AOR in a world where the Sixties (and the Beatles) grew more historical by the minute. That doesn’t mean you can’t like it a lot. I thought it was OK…then Everything Changed.
Remember that Lennon’s chemistry, both naturally and drug-impacted, was very swingy and difficult to predict. I don’t think it’s unlikely that he would’ve started a world tour — but I doubt he would’ve finished it, especially if the dates weren’t a triumph. He got bored easily, had enough money…
The only Lennon I have ever connected with is the singer and composer until 1968 (sometimes 1970). After that year I feel that he is another person, just a character, someone false and by extension all his actions and products. Maybe I am wrong and he was just coming out of his shell and a new Lennon was emerging from Yoko’s hand but I only see a “performance” and instead, the real Lennon imploded without the oportunity to evolve. I can’t help it but see it that way.
I’m from the generation born in the 80’s when Lennon, The Myth (The Brand) began… and this days there is a tendency to break myths, and the more mithologized a character seems the more is the need to deny the myth and “unveil” the “truth” just for the sake of it… perhaps that is one of the reasons for the decay of his glory nowadays.
I have no facts to support my statements, just a feeling, uhmm maybe my way of thinking about him is consequence of my lack of background, ehem…
All I can say is that when I listen to him chat and laugh between takes of Anthology, performing at concerts or giving interviews in the sixties, I see joy, anger and even sadness in his attitude, I see real emotions. After 1968 I don’t feel him real, no emotions in him, only anger for a while and then nothing.
That is why I can’t see him as iconic as others do, to my generation (in my region and culture) his 70’s persona has been only a motif for T-shirts.
It should be noted that my perspective comes from what I see in the surface and what I feel in my guts, I don’t dive deep in the psicology of the character, I don’t have the tools.
For what it’s worth, I feel much the same. With a brief respite during 1974 and early 1975, where he seemed like his old self. In all the good and bad ways.
Through the JohnAndYoko™ years, we’d sometimes see flashes of the old Lennon.
I remember when he co-hosted the Mike Douglas Show. At one point, the three of them sat on the floor, closer to the audience, so IIRC John could do a quiet acoustic ballad. John muttered something I couldn’t hear. Mike Douglas started giggling uncontrollably and then stopped the show to tell the audience what John had said:
“It’s time for the Floor Show.”
C’mon! That’s definitely Hard Day’s Night Lennon.
That’s great. He was a very naturally funny guy.
His original line was probably funnier. I’m working from memory and it’s been over forty years, so I probably mangled the quote.
I feel the same way Alejandra. John seems to have lost his humor and joy after 1968.
Just a thought after reading through the comments:
No matter Johns demons, he had to be an essentially loving, good person to create The Beatles. The Beatles music endures to this day because the message is one of love, joy, and peace. A person who is devoid of those things could not create it.
John was so clearly loving and generous that those are two of the first words that come to mind when I think of his best side. I was listening to a podcast this morning that had a snippet of Goldman speaking about John and saying the exact opposite. He has to have willfully done this, presumably to sell his book, but a fuller, truer picture would have been far more compelling and long-lasting.
My son is 25 and says John is his favorite Beatle despite having been an asshole. I’ve kind of given up trying to convince him otherwise – maybe I’ll make another go of it.
My nephew is the same age, and he also thinks John is an asshole. I’ve talked to him about Johns childhood, and that he had a lot of tragedy in his young life.
It’s interesting talking to the younger folks about the Beatles. They don’t have the same stereotypes we may have.
I’ve told my son about John’s childhood, which he hadn’t heard about. I should also point him to the quote I posted from the Playboy interview about the “Getting Better” lyric where John acknowledged what he’d been like and talked about much he regretted it. What Nikki said about that not absolving him is also true though.
@Laura and @Tasmin, John wasn’t a hitter because his mom died. He was a hitter because he’d been drinking/drugging from an early age and never developed the ability to regulate his emotions; and within the toxic masculinity of his time, physical violence was an acceptable way to act when you had big feelings.
(My interpretation/best guess as to why he hit people in general, and women in particular.)
There’s a passivity to the “family story” idea that I think is not helpful. A “not John’s fault” aspect. But he was who he was, and did what he did.
Shoot – there’s no REPLY button to Michael saying to Tasmin and me that John wasn’t a hitter because his mom died…
I don’t think so either, but I do think the instability of his childhood resulted in a fear of abandonment and generalized anger had an effect on his behavior, including excessive drug use. As I said, it doesn’t absolve him, but knowing about his personal history as well as about the culture in which all four of the Beatles lived makes his behavior easier to understand if not forgive.
I don’t see physical violence toward women as having been acceptable even if it was less demonized, for lack of a better word. When John hit Cynthia, she told him never again (and claimed her ultimatum worked). When he was violent with Thelma, she ended the relationship. Tragically, far too many women stayed with men who were violent toward them, and probably still do.
Agree with all this. It’s just…I will never not see the role of personal addiction and addictive family matrices in Lennon’s behavior, and just as mistreating women is supported by a whole lattice of evil we call Patriarchy, so too addiction is held in place by a bunch of industries, beliefs and customs so deep that they’re hard to even see.
John’s childhood was (I regret to say) not uncommonly traumatic, if you come from the kind of family that he did (and I did). This is not to deny his pain, which was real. But we get a distorted view of his story; we only hear him talking about it as a self-dramatizing 30 year old in the first flush of therapy (and a particularly dramatic, untested form of therapy at that).
As Beatle fans, it’s become comfortable for us to look at Lennon and say, “Well, of course he acted that way because he was abandoned; well, his mother; well, his aunt; well, Stu.” But to me those circumstances are not what caused him to get drunk and belligerent. Those are predictable consequences of a family full of people genetically predisposed to get drunk and belligerent, in a society where drunken belligerence (for example: woman-hitting) was accepted.
John had a certain amount of tragedy in his young life, but not an uncommon or devastating amount–especially when you factor in the behavior of alcoholics/addicts. He was not, for example, out on the street; I just had a cousin tell me she couch-surfed for two years. I did not even know this; that’s what a meat-grinder these types of families are. Food, shelter, no sexual or physical or mental abuse — these are blessings.
Much more determinative than what happened to John, was how John learned to cope with those things. It was those coping mechanisms (drink/drugs, emotional numbness, fury, blaming others) that caused him to hit, not what Julia or Freddy or Mimi or anybody else did. That’s important to highlight because the first place addicts go is, “It’s not my fault; it’s because x, or you made me do y, or pity me because z.” The self-mythologizing didn’t help John, and replicating his beliefs about it is a bit dangerous. It enables.
I’m not criticizing *at all*, @Laura. Just adding to.
Laura, I guess it depends on what we mean by “acceptable” / “accepted.” Unfortunately, I think physical violence toward women was MUCH more tolerated in the 1940s-1960s (and earlier, of course) than now — and not just in Liverpool, England. It’s not that people were coming out and saying hitting women was okay; it was more that people WEREN’T coming out and saying that hitting women was straight-up abusive and absolutely unacceptable. Individual women could and did stand up to men, as Cynthia and Thelma seem to have stood up to John. But I don’t think the culture had their back too firmly, if you get what I mean.
When I look at the “me too” movement of the past few years it’s horrifying to see the amount of abusive behavior that was tolerated by women in the 2010s (!) because they felt they didn’t really have a recourse if they wanted to keep working / stay in an industry. It’s not that anyone ever said that it was okay to do what we now know Harvey Weinstein, for example, did. It’s that there weren’t enough people in positions of power who were willing to stand up and say it was NOT okay.
Does that make sense to you? I’m trying to clarify what I meant when I was talking about the culture the Beatles grew up in being relatively accepting of some violence toward women — as long as it wasn’t too public or too obviously damaging.
@Nancy, a female relative of mine was getting beat up in the early 60s, and left. “Why would she do that? He was such a good provider! He was so respected in his field! She has children, what about them?” She was actually called irresponsible for leaving. Doing so took uncommon courage, self-esteem, and luck. She thrived, eventually, but the whole system was stacked against her success.
Not telling you anything you don’t know, but to me it seems that the physical abuse of women — threatened or actual — was an essential part of their systematic oppression, no different than a kind of slavery. It was so common it was a pop culture trope: just look at “The Honeymooners.”
Michael, haven’t thought of “The Honeymooners” in years, but that’s a great example of the way things have changed — can’t imagine a mainstream TV show now joking about a husband hitting a wife. Reruns of that show played on the independent station where I grew up (they played whatever they could afford), and it always mystified me that anyone thought it was funny. Not just the “to the moon, Alice!” stuff, but the whole thing. It’s rather like “Benny Hill” to me, in that way — it’s time has definitely passed, IMO. Even though much work remains to be done, looking at shows like these is a reminder of just how much HAS shifted culturally.
I know, right?
The difference between the honeymooners and Benny Hill is that Jackie Gleason was a terrible alcoholic, a definite abuser. And Benny Hill was a closeted gay man. So Gleason’s “joke” wasn’t really a joke at all…which was obvious to me, someone who knew the type. Whereas Hill’s relationship to bare-breasted ladies was pure pantomime.
Thank you for clarifying, Michael and Nancy. Perhaps my son’s “he’s my favorite Beatle even though he was an asshole” is… close enough.
I’m 30 years old so I didn’t live in Beatles times but I grew up on Beatles through my dad and then through biographies/YouTube clips/documentaries etc.
I think for the younger generations if you aren’t seeking out stuff about the Beatles beyond the surface level then maybe it’s hard for the younger fans to connect to John without him being present like Paul and Ringo.
Although I’ve noticed funnily enough that a lot of the John/Paul lover fans are generally younger which is why even though I’m not entirely convinced John and Paul had homosexual tendencies or sexual attraction to one another- despite having an intense friendship- I don’t begrudge the J/P shippers as if that’s a way for the younger crowd to connect with and keep the Beatles fandom going Im okay with that.
@Tasmin, younger people don’t have the stereotypes that we have (much less the ones the Beatles themselves had), but they also don’t have the same frame of reference, either. Which means that their interpretation of the Beatles, as a group and phenomenon and as people are going to reflect contemporary young people’s attitudes, not necessarily the truth about how it was in, say, 1966 (much less 1956).
As someone born in the US in 1969, I can sort of see how things might’ve looked to a Liverpudlian born in 1940, but only just. Someone born in 1989 is not going to understand how strange and brave it was for John Lennon to give up rock stardom to raise a kid. They can’t. They weren’t alive in 1975 and didn’t grow up with those set of gender roles, expectations, and traditions. They can read the sentence, “It was shocking to some that Lennon retired to raise his son,” but they can’t nod and go, “Yep. I remember when things were like that.”
This stuff matters, and it’s why I pump the brakes so hard on the McLennon stuff. They are doing two very debatable things at once:
1) Interpretation: DID YOU SEE THAT LOOK/LYRIC/HANDTOUCH?
2) Conclusion: That can only mean one thing.
I’ve watched our culture change from the 60s/70s one I was born into, to the 80’s-00s one, to now a 10s-20s one. Each era has been different from what preceded and followed, and the cumulative changes in mores over my lifetime have been immense. When I was 16, I assumed a lot of things were immutable because I hadn’t seen them change. Now I know better.
Does this mean MY interpretations are always correct? No. Mostly they aren’t, I’d bet. But if you remain aware that you are interpreting, and show your work — “I believe x because y” — it can be useful regardless.
If you even care to look for the real John at all, you should check out the YouTube video of when he was a guest DJ at KHJ radio for a day in late ’74. He sounds like the same fun loving, warm and happy John to me. The regular DJ of the station said he was overwhelmed at having John there at first, but that John was just a regular guy who put him at ease. Same when he re-emerged in ’80. He’s very human and relatable and why people seem to hold the same “cardboard cutout” view of him that MDC had is kind of disturbing.
YES! It’s tremendous fun to see the old guy return, if only for a short time.
I’ve not been here for a while, but reading through some of the comments there are a few things that bother me a little. Firstly, I find the misconceptions that younger generations have towards older generations attitudes regarding abuse and violence a little disturbing. Violence towards women was NEVER acceptable then nor at the time when John was growing up. I agree that there was, and still is, a subset of toxic masculinity in attitudes towards women but to typify whole generations of men as such is not right, and that includes men in Liverpool. My father’s generation of men (he is from the North of England) looked upon men who hit women as wife-beaters and they were despised. Generations of boys, including John’s, were brought up not to hit girls, and by implication men were not to hit women (today, more fairly, it is unacceptable for anyone to hit anybody but perhaps later generations don’t realize how gender specific it was then). John would have known his behaviour was unacceptable, that it was considered cowardly, and if anything, likely to have added to his self-loathing. It is misleading when people say now “that was the way things were”. Not totally true. People turned a blind eye to abuse because the police/authorities at the time considered it to be a ‘domestic’ issue. Not only did people feel powerless to prevent it but there was also an element of fear in becoming involved. Nancy, you touched upon it when you wrote that people didn’t speak up to say it was not okay, you are right, but part of the problem was also not knowing that some abuse was going on in the first place – and this is still happens today. And when people did speak up it fell upon deaf ears.
Secondly, the perception of gender roles in the late sixties and seventies. The early seventies saw the rise of Germaine Greer and Betty Friedman and the women’s liberation movement which was hugely influential amongst young people at that time. Gender roles were argued – why shouldn’t women have careers, why shouldn’t men stay at home and look after the kids? So while the notion of house husband was still years away in terms of acceptance, I don’t think the idea of John giving up music to bring up Sean was seen as completely nuts either. But mainly because he was a rock star and seen to be a different breed to the rest of us. To kids like me, the Beatles had already done a few weirdy things by then anyway – LSD and Sgt Pepper, India and the Maharishi, the arrival of Yoko Ono, wives being part of the band, etc. so John becoming a house husband was pretty much water off a duck’s back.
Thirdly, it also raises the notion of John’s bisexuality (again). But like gender roles, sexuality was also something that was hugely discussed in society at the time in the early seventies and the Lennons were part of this; they were not instigators. For the first time, notions of gayness were discussed openly – what makes people straight, what makes them gay, is there such a thing as bisexuality, and so on. It was fashionable talk but that’s what a lot of it was -just talk. I think this is where younger people get confused when Yoko implied John may have been bisexual by not being able to separate John’s notions of his sexuality from what was being discussed by many people generally and have proceeded to personalize his sexuality into something it was probably not.
@Lara, thanks for this. Really interesting.
An appropriately nuanced discussion of the relationship of men to physical violence is beyond the parameters of this blog; it’s certainly beyond my pay grade. I can say that, during my lifetime (sample size of 1), physical violence against women by men has seemed to engender more broad societal pushback in the last twenty years than before, and that’s a good thing. But it’s a mixed bag. During my lifetime here in the States there’s been widespread male disapproval of violence against women, while at the same time not much done to allow women the economic and personal autonomy necessary to extricate themselves from abusive situations. In fact, (male-dominated) U.S. politics since 1980 has shown the exact opposite trend (cue Amy Comey Barrett), and the younger generation’s growing outrage over this is, to me, a good thing. If John Lennon comes in for a bit of rough treatment, well, he can handle it. There’s really something TO him, and that will shine through.
The problem with “only cowards hit girls/women” is that itself is the language of patriarchy. Better than nothing, to be sure but… Men of my generation here in America were inculcated with that very same language, and because it reinforces conventional masculinity–a horror of “weakness”, a need to be the boss–it stokes the very compulsions of strength, authority and control that (my guess) are at the heart of male violence. Protecting girls/women because they are weaker is based on the laughable idea that femininity is inherently weaker, lesser; it leads directly to male homosexuality being seen as feminine and thus weak…All these dicta, while they may stop some men from actually beating anybody up, reinforces the system that causes the violence. As I age, I’m beginning to think that we are all only as wise as time and circumstance allow…but that perhaps there is a slow accrual of wisdom over the decades?
For example: I don’t remember John’s househusbanding as being thought of as completely nuts; certainly new, in 1975. He was the first mega-celebrity that I knew of who was doing that. It seemed to me he was on the cutting edge, and got a lot of justifiable praise for it from the Boomers I knew.
“Protecting girls/women because they are weaker is based on the laughable idea that femininity is inherently weaker”. Good point, I agree that this had its origins in patriarchy. But I think it’s only half the story. Any attack or group attack on any person irrespective of gender who is physically weaker than oneself is perceived to be cowardly, and I think that was true then as it is now. But perhaps not with the perpetrators. But I still think a sensitive man such as John recognized it as such. Sadly, the incidence of female violence towards others has been on the rise, at least in my country. People may be weaker due to the physical realities of anatomy but it doesn’t mean they are weaker in intellect, character, or spirit. Isn’t it also true that some of the time attacks on women (or anyone) occur because of the perception of the very inner strength they possess? As you say the need to be the boss or to be in control can be overriding.
. For the record, I don’t believe in any cancelling of John either. I find it absurd. Those in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones. While I don’t condone his violence, it took much courage for John to confront it. As others have mentioned, it’s sad that he seemed to become humourless and sour during the 70s. I prefer to remember Beatle John – he was funny, brilliant, and immensely likeable for all his flaws.
I personally do not find John humorless and sour for much of the ’70s except for the very early part of the decade. Yes, he withdrew from the music business in ’75 but when he did make public appearances and interviews he seemed to be just as spirited as he was when he was a Beatle. His whole life wasn’t defined by being a Beatle any more than Paul’s or George’s was.
It’s my first time commenting since usually I am a bit intimidated by how well-versed everyone here is in the Beatles and their history to join the discussions. But the discussion above on how younger fans’ perceptions differ from, say, that of boomers or someone growing up listening to their parents’ original Beatles vinyl is so fascinating that I wanted to offer my 2 cents. Hope this is okay.
I am in my early 30s and, unlike presumably most regulars on this blog, grew up in Asia and migrated to a different, predominantly English-speaking country in another part of Asia in my teens. My parents and extended family knew next to nowt about the Beatles but luckily, they loved music and bought me the then newly-released 1 album when I was a kid. Loving that album, I looked up some random stuff on the Beatles on the Internet and bought into the Shout! narrative and the Estate’s narrative which, unfortunately, was being reproduced without question in my native language. Since both narratives focused on Lennon, I then moved on to listen to some of his solo works and found them wanting – to my early teen ears, they simply did not exude any genuine sense of fun and enthusiasm like the music of the Beatles did (please pardon me if I am offending anyone here but that was the honest opinion of 11-year-old me). And frankly, the Lennon-genius-martyr-peace activist narrative bored me so much that I lost interest in the Beatles for a number of years until recently.
When I returned to the fandom (if anything good came out of Covid, it is this) earlier this year, it was initially both a disheartening and exhilarating experience to dive into the Beatles fans communities on platforms for people speaking my native tongue, disheartening as most male Asian Beatles fans held on to the same old narratives and lionized Lennon but the female Asian fans have mostly embraced the same irreverent takes and perspectives on the Beatles you would see on Tumblr. Noticeably, most of the said female Asian fans also have a much better grasp of English.
The John Lennon that emerged through my interactions with them and through my own (very shallow) research was so titillating, exasperating and such a flawed but irresistibly loveable person that 7 months after my return to the fandom I am still devouring books, listening to podcasts and reading compilations of research and analysis online attempting to better understand him.
So I guess I am trying to make two points in my rambling 1) that John-Lennon-the-Person is an infinitely more exciting figure than John-Lennon-the-Brand and 2) generation gap is but one of the factors that lead to differences in perceptions of the Beatles, there are also sociological factors and language issues at play here. Ultimately, each and every person’s perception and understanding of anything and anyone is also invariably tinted by that person’s makeup and, hopefully, in celebrating the Beatles or any individual Beatle, we would all be able to understand the world, its immensely diverse population and ourselves better.
How do you know that there is a male/female division in how they percieve John, to the point of making that generalization?
Off topic, maybe, but since Jackie Gleason came up in this discussion:
1969 – George Carlin was booked on the Jackie Gleason Show so that Hank Meyers, Gleason’s publicist and an FBI informant, could report back to the bureau about the comedian. Later that week the FBI ghost wrote a series of complaints and sent them to CBS.
Something I was reminded of when reading an 80th commemorative article was John and Maharishi in India. How stories of him trying to rape Mia Farrow caused John such a visceral reaction he immediately up and left India, did a total 180 on Maharishi teachings and then took pleasure in tearing him down as a phony con man, an opinion he continued to believe for the rest of his life.
I’m curious where that John fits with the violent to women John?
Especially the allegation of misogyny leveled at him. Don’t forget also that he was appalled by the wife swapping that George and Ringo engaged in.
I thought it was Mia Farrow’s sister who made the accusation against the Maharishi?
The story was that Maharishi made passes at Prudence Farrow. But I would encourage Beatle fans not to look at one incident, whatever it is, and attempt to divine someone’s character. John could easily be a committed misogynist, shocked at Maharishi’s supposed sexual indiscretions, call George’s sleeping with Maureen “practically incest,” and also be a hitter who wrecked his and May’s apartment in a rage. None of those things preclude the other, and if they do for you, they might not have for him. All of us contain multitudes, and John was more mercurial than most.
As to John and George’s leaving Rishikesh, IIRC the misconduct accusations were leveled by Magic Alex, who is IMHO not a trustworthy source. (The more John was under the spell of MMY, the less access Magic Alex had to his pocketbook. And also not for nothing it was Alex who was involved in John’s attempt to catch Cynthia in infidelity so that he could give her less in the divorce. A low point for Lennon.)
George was dubious about the accusatiobs, but he’d been the most into it from the beginning; John was convinced. On top of all there is the issue of Typical Guru Behavior, which sleeping with a student definitely would be. George, having had more experience with gurus, seems to have been less betrayed. John went ballistic, why is unclear. Both Prudence and MMY were adults, and it seems to have been a pass, not Sex much less rape. (Not that I’m excusing MMY, if he did what Alex said he did.)
John seems to have been the only person — including Prudence — for whom this was a catastrophe. FWIW, everybody but John practiced TM long after coming back from India.
All of which is to say: we don’t really know what happened. we know that’s the story John told, but he wasn’t a reliable narrator. And his righteous indignation over MMY’s sexy times was to excoriate his long-suffering wife about HER supposed infidelities during the flight from Delhi to London, much to the embarrassment of Cynthia and the rest of the party.
As I said, it wouldn’t be out of character for a guru to be sleazy in this way; it’s a rare guru who isn’t. But was it true? What was Prudence’s feeling about it? Why did John flip out so hard? Why did it trigger public cruelty to Cyn? What was it’s relationship with his imminent hook up with Yoko?
This is all very complicated, and almost impossible to ascertain as fans.
Mia Farrow did an interview recently where she said the Maharishi grabbed her with two arms from behind and then she ran out. So I think something happened but whether it was as bad a degree as what the rumor mill had got back to the Beatles.
I think that’s one example of the fact that John had multiple sides and that while I don’t condone hitting Cynthia I don’t think that sums him up as a person in the same category as your Bill Crosby, Harvey Weinstein, R Kelly and Jeffrey Epstein type predators.
It’s a hard one and maybe because I’ve been fortunate enough not to experience domestic violence or abuse I can’t really speak on this topic. Because on the flip side a lot of predators use charity and advocacy to shield there predatory behaviour and John to some extent admitted that his peace campaigning was in a way to make up for or despite the fact that he had a violent nature.
I just feel that John was fairly open about the fact that he was not a perfect person, that he had fundamental flaws, he was even pretty open about the fact that he was not a good father to Julian or a good husband to Cynthia, and as someone above mentioned he was someone who wanted to be better and tried to be better which I think is a lot more then your Weinsteins, Kelly’s, Epstein, Crosby’s (maybe a controversial opinion) Jackson’s which I feel John gets lumped in with by some;
Or even a lot more then your Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, Steve Tyler etc who treated very young groupies far more appallingly then what we’ve heard about the Beatles and yet their skeletons don’t seem to haunt their reputations like it does John.
And this takes it back to Michael article point that had the Estate not created the St Lennon Brand and marketed John as a Jesus type martyr maybe he would not be re-evaluated so harshly if he didn’t have that added level of hypocrisy attached to his name.
I agree with you, @LeighAnn. And also re: Mia Farrow — WOAH.
Basically 95% of your big famous male spiritual teachers are accused of sexual misconduct. Lots of them are eventually proved to have done this. I once read a quote from an Indian person saying that Westerners need to be much more cynical towards gurus, like Indians have learned to be.
It’s depressing, but it’s also a reminder that gurus are people. Just as rock stars are people. The interesting thing about John’s outrage is that he must’ve been on the other end of that outrage many times.
Purely speculation, but I have wondered if John’s outrage at the Maharishi was a little performative. From all the accounts I’ve read of the events in India — and none of them tell the whole story — and considering John’s mental state at that point in time, obviously something else was going on in addition to any outrage over the fall of his Maharishi idol. I’ve wondered if maybe he was looking for any indiscretion to get out and repudiate the Maharishi? Like, at that point, Ringo’s gone, Paul’s gone, and John was probably feeling a little vulnerable at the state of the ashram. He’d been in competition with the others for “the answer” and the others aren’t only gone, consistently the Maharishi had failed to slip him the secrets of eternity. They’d been made suspicious by being hit up for money, which, you just don’t ask Beatles for money. He’s falling out with Cyn, corresponding with Yoko, possibly is upset at Paul for abandoning them to go back to work, is off drugs, meditating a lot and bringing up some unpleasant truths, and suddenly Alex shows up to stir the pot. So John has his righteous explosion and stomps out, and oh, tries to put the cap in his marriage at the same time. Goes home, does so many drugs that he fails to have sex with Brigitte Bardot– basically it’s a series of implosions for quite a while.
Not that that doesn’t mean he isn’t also outraged at the possible molestation of women in their party. Just that I wonder if he hadn’t lost faith already and was just waiting for an excuse. To me it sort of mirrors what we know of the end of his partnership with Paul; John’s righteous indignation over Paul’s announcing the cessation of his activities with the other Beatles seems a little over-the-top considering the rest of them had already left at least once and John by that point had done multitudes of things to rattle the State of the Beatles and leave them all reeling.
As for John and women, I think he had a lot of buried misogyny, and it’s not even necessary to read the worst accounts of him (Goldman, Seaman) to get that idea. But I do think he realized his issues and was trying to do better. You really don’t hear of a lot of celebrities admitting that sort of failing until they’re forced to, and John actively wanted to improve.
@Kristy, that’s what I was trying to get at: it feels performative to me. But I actually think there’s something more going on, so please keep reading.
Why do I not take this at face value? John Lennon in 1968 was a rock star, who hung out with other rock stars. You COULD NOT BE a rock star at that time and be deeply triggered by “molestation of women.” What we would consider “molestation of women” was happening constantly, all around you; it was in fact one of the reasons people were in that business at that time. It’s like some biographer writing, “When Alex told him that Maharishi had been skimming cash off ticket sales to his lectures, Lennon went to confront the guru, and left Rishikesh immediately.”
Possible? Sure. Likely? No.
I’ve spoken about this before, but there is a well-known phenomenon among meditators (of which I am one) called “spiritual emergency.” It’s most likely a strong and unplanned rising of the Kundalini energy. But whatever it is, the etiology is the same: if you meditate too much too soon, without proper supervision, and especially if you’re getting off drugs, or still doing drugs, or whatever, you can feel all sorts of really uncomfortable sensations.
I personally have had this, and it’s really difficult. I wasn’t taking any drugs, but had taken a strong cannabis edible by mistake several months earlier, and was meditating daily while getting lots of strong acupuncture for a very grave illness. So it was just a lot to handle, and there can be “releases” even when everything is going well.
When you feel this peculiar discomfort, the natural response is to try to change, or at least dull, your nervous system via alcohol or other drugs, or sex. This works only slightly; mostly you just feel hungover AND uncomfortable.
The other natural response is to not realize that it’s the meditation that’s causing it, especially if you’re being told “this is totally benign, it can’t hurt you, do it as much as you want.” So you feel like something is “off,” and you look around for things outside yourself that are making you feel this way. “It’s Maharishi, he’s a charlatan!” “It’s my wife, she’s a cheater!” “It’s my songwriting partner, he’s a phony!”
A beginning meditator who has recently been doing a ton of psychedelics, uppers, downers, pot, and alcohol, and has eaten meat for his whole life, who suddenly stops all that (except for the pot) and becomes vegetarian — who is also meditating nine hours a day — is really likely to be knocked off balance. The problem is that Maharishi didn’t have sufficient respect for the transformative power of the kind of meditation he was teaching; even water can kill you if you drink too much of it. If Lennon had been stepped into it gradually–if he’d entered a formal, well-established monastic tradition with thousands of years of practice of working with acolytes (like Leonard Cohen, for example)–I’d think it would’ve been as benign as Maharishi said it was. But to go from Beatledom to Rishikesh, to me that’s bound to mess with your energetic system, and Maharishi didn’t really know what the Beatles’ lives were like before they became his students.
Eventually things calm down. But it is really no bullshit; my own experience with this was by far the most discomfort I have ever felt, in part because it didn’t stop. You’d wake up with it, live with it, go to sleep with it.
After it’s over, things are better. They’re not normal again — you’re not the person you were before — but there are benefits. I personally am grateful for the experience. But it’s very difficult, and I was very grateful to have several experienced teachers/practitioners that guided me through it. Here’s a list of 15 common signs of spiritual emergency; fits pretty well with what we know happened to Lennon.
This is my first time posting her ,but what LeighAnn said, I agree. There is something, a certain self-reflection or deep guilt-feeling, which John had that makes him a real person. Also not to excuse anything, but I always thought that John had a certain mental illness/mood disorder and/or long term trauma that made him react out of control. He himself seemed to be really afraid of this and not know what to do about it. The substance abuse didn’t help.
I am not sure how much John was trying to hide about his dark side. Seemed like he talked about it a lot and was disgusted by it. I think he genuinely tried to do better. He didn’t talk about everything in his personal life, but that is also allowing him privacy which was also important to him.
Oh man, am I upset that I missed the last week of excellent discussion about this excellent post. I have to add a few observations.
Like most enduring dead public figures, John Lennon will become whoever each decade needs him to be, even if none of those cultural Lennons are accurate. Think about it: people know who Elvis or Sinatra were, but those names remain consistent shorthand for a single set of traits/biography/values. Not so Lennon. In the last 40 years, he’s been a saint, a great dad, the only genius in the Beatles, a lazy coattail rider, an abuser, a visionary, a hopeless addict, a victim, etc. Only “abuser” and “addict” are true and as this thread shows, they are more complex than the societal shorthands. There’s no way that the Cultural John Lennon ends here, I think, even if his influence wanes with each decade. This is the kind of debate people have about Thomas Jefferson or Shakespeare. For someone who wanted to be the most famous man in the world, and who decided later that that meant “bigger than Jesus,” not Elvis, I think Lennon would be pleased by all this. And ironically in death, he’s gotten what he lacked in life: the protective distance of stardom between his real self and his star-self. If you’re a saint or a villain on the scale Deceased John is, the one thing you are not is relatable. Somebody’s friend.
Just a couple thoughts on the Estate’s mythologizing. One, a sad effect of elevating post-1968 John is that post-1968 John is really hollow. As others say, he loses that humor, he blows up his best creation ever for unclear reasons, his music stops hitting the highs of 1963-67, and then starts to become mediocre, then he vanishes into five years for which the official story can’t possibly be true. Of these, it’s the “John is less likeable and makes worse music” thing that makes the Estate Lennon doomed before we even get to the whitewashing. It’s not possible to build up a person who seemed to be really weird and struggling with really disturbing things and losing his muse, and the more the estate does that, the more they cabin Lennon’s continued relevance down to a small group of Baby Boomers. Fortunately, what that does is leave pre-68 John available for a post-Yoko era. That Lennon is the one people connected with in the first place, and he made great art and achieved great things and was funny and interesting and someone you’d want to be friends with if he didn’t hit you. Would anyone want to be friends with John in 1969? The 70s?
Among many other reasons, it seems obvious to me that Yoko was not John’s soulmate and didn’t understand this because she not only made him more serious and less creative in life; she also has been unwilling or unable to preserve in death the best of who her husband was. As Saint Lennon is blown apart, she refuses to relax her grip on how her husband is depicted, to share with the public what she really knew of him. Even though it’d make the Estate more money than decade four of this garbage. Even though people want the anecdotes about him struggling with mental illness and addiction because it’s humanizing (for fans, it might even be like having that “friend” back). Even though more film and demos and writing and memoirs of Pre-68 Lennon would preserve his true genius for later generations. If one needs any proof that Yoko’s connection to John has always and will always be about Yoko, from the beginning, one needs only look at the way he’s marketed and remembered by the Estate.
Well said, @Michael. I’d add that the pre-68 Lennon was so charismatic and fun that people wanted to be his friend even when he DID hit them. You took the bad with the good, because the good was great. This is typically how addicts live, surrounded by enablers–but it doesn’t feel like it’s enabling to them, any more than it feels like addiction to the addict. “I can stop any time I want.” “When it’s good it makes up for the bad times.” And so forth.
It’s easier to see in a person like Peter Cook; there is no doubt that he was an unpleasant bastard, often. The coldness, the abusiveness, the basic self-loathing are all visible on the surface, so when one reads stories about him saying or doing something cruel to Dudley Moore, you’re not surprised. But then Cook will create something truly hilarious, and all is forgiven. (Until it’s not.)
The interesting thing to me is how strong the matrix is; these people continue to exert a pull even after they’re dead. Stephen Fry, for example, delivered this impassioned post-mortem defense of Cook after obituaries had possessed the temerity to suggest that the Great Man hadn’t fulfilled his early promise. Whether anyone could’ve is another question and a fair one, but it’s not cruel or unfair given the circumstances of Cook’s life to see the drink and the drugs and the wrecked partnership and think, “This is a tragedy.”
Cook’s brilliance shone from 1960-67, and was followed by a slow slide into mediocrity. This was followed by a creatively fallow self-imposed exile, followed by a “comeback,” followed by a sudden, tragic death at an early age. Very much like his friend Lennon, right down to the fiercely protective wife who insisted that, while to outsiders he seemed sick and diminished and creatively spent, they were happy. And we hope they were happy, a reflection of all the happiness they gave us.
As a child of boomer’s, and not a boomer myself, I would love to have been John’s friend in the ’70s. Even if he didn’t want to hold my hand anymore.
Lennon was such a strange bird regarding his personal evolution. The Lennon of mid 1966 seems a million miles away from the Lennon of late 68, or of 74…of 80. And we also must keep in mind and entertain the uncomfortable thoughts that he may well turn into something many of his fans would find unsavory…the Lennon of 1991 may want to be an elder hanger on of grunge, the Lennon of 2017 may be at the White House with a red hat on. It’s really not outlandish…but the way this guy changed, adopted new fads obsessively diving in with both feet and all his trust, there is no way to pinpoint who or what he’d be.
Anything’s possible when it comes to Lennon, I agree. Since he ceased to exit 40 years ago we can imagine all sorts of scenarios, ugly and otherwise.
His earlier behavior offers clues to where he’d be now. I’m sure he would have embraced every new health and dietary fad that came along, always trying for self improvement (trying to fix whatever the hell was wrong with him) but politically I still think he would have remained somewhat left of center. I say somewhat. A tax-shelter liberal. I don’t see him going full MAGA, as Johnny Rotten did. But Johnny Rotten offered clues about himself for years and years, so I’m not surprised by his idiocy.
For example, Eric Clapton and Van Morrison; I knew they were assholes thirty years ago, so I wasn’t surprised to see them join forces onstage to protest social distancing in the age of COVID-19.
I’m not convinced Lennon would have gone that far, but I can imagine him angrily demanding in an interview “What happened to COVID-1 through 18??” or something stupid like that, and being distrustful of the scientists.
I think Lennon 2020 would be taking frequent breaks from social media. He’d be pissing people off every day! I’m reminded of the latest controversy around something John Cleese dashed off on Twitter. He got folks so riled up they’re now saying Eric Idle and Michael Palin are the only good Pythons left!
If Lennon was alive, and stepping on his own dick every other day, maybe people would be yelling “Ringo and Paul are the only good Beatles left!”
@Sam, I think that you’re right about social media; a writer friend of mine once attempted to do a fake Lennon twitter feed and it ran into the same problem as I had writing my book: if you try to do it for real, extrapolate from who he was and what he said, you get someone very different than any conventional fan would expect. So then, it doesn’t sound like “John Lennon.”
I think it’s highly likely that John would’ve subscribed to many conspiracy theories. Q? Possible. Anti-vax? VERY possible. John was prone to magical thinking, not least because some amazingly magical things had happened to him. And he was very very cynical about “the mainstream media” as well as the conventional narrative, in part because he’d met a lot of the people spoken about in the news, and knew there was a great gulf between their personas and the real them.
Most of the time, I really wish John had lived a longer life; but sometimes, I think his timing was perfect.
John apparently liked Reagan; he was as far from Abbie Hoffman/Jerry Rubin as you can get by the time he turned 40. Trump though? I don’t think so. I could see him as a “hanger on” of the grunge movement, or he could hang on to Taylor Swift on the cover of Rolling Stone in an attempt to market his new album to the kidz.
It seems unnecessary to attribute the most cynical possible motives to Paul McCartney in order to defend John Lennon.
Lotta people who liked Reagan then, like Trump now…for pretty much the same reason: taxes. Lennon was unabashedly liberal in certain ways, but when it came to his money, he seems to have been extremely combative about it. I think Trump’s stupidity and vulgarity would’ve repelled John Lennon, but I think it’s far from certain that he would’ve been a progressive. A Clinton Democrat? I could see it. A Bush Republican. I could see that, too. A Libertarian? I could see that perhaps most of all.
But of course he would’ve changed with the times, as well. Perhaps he would’ve become more generous. I hope so.
This is very true, Dave. I once wrote a novel with a main character based on Lennon, and it was very difficult, because the actual John was so changeable, so mercurial, that any honest extrapolation of his future behavior seemed very much at odds with the fellow we knew. I think it’s not at all unlikely that John Lennon would’ve been increasingly conservative as his wealth mounted, while at the same time mouthing progressive beliefs. He did not feel he owed anyone consistency…and maybe he didn’t. Though I personally like to believe that he would’ve grown into his better aspects rather than his lesser ones.
PLAYBOY: “You disagree with Neil Young’s lyric in ‘Rust Never Sleeps’– ‘It’s better to burn out than to fade away….'”
LENNON: “I hate it. It’s better to fade away like an old soldier than to burn out. I don’t appreciate worship of dead Sid Vicious or of dead James Dean or of dead John Wayne. It’s the same thing. Making Sid Vicious a hero, Jim Morrison …it’s garbage to me. I worship the people who survive. Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo. They’re saying John Wayne conquered cancer… he whipped it like a man. You know, I’m sorry that he died and all that. I’m sorry for his family, but he didn’t whip cancer. It whipped him. I don’t want Sean worshiping John Wayne or Sid Vicious. What do they teach you? Nothing. Death. Sid Vicious died for what? So that we might rock? I mean, it’s garbage, you know. If Neil Young admires that sentiment so much, why doesn’t he do it? Because he sure as hell faded away and came back many times, like all of us. No, thank you. I’ll take the living and the healthy.”
@Sam, thank you. I’d bump this up to a post, but I still find it just too sad.
Very well said. First generation Beatles fan here. How glorious it is to love him all these years. Your article has touched me deeply.
Sure a lot of people around the world are very protective of John’s image but I think essentially Yoko and Paul love him so much. John was a revolutionary, an intriguing, provocative, cheeky, sexy artist and yes he was also a man of peace even though he could also be a violent person. Point out his flaws? Useless exercise because we all have defects but the world remembers him because he was a great songwriter and an extraordinary artist. That is his legacy
This post is a breath of fresh air. With you 100% on that, Paola.
Heads-up Michael, there’s a spam link in this post. “Get more information”…