Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

Imagine That There's Sense To It All

I want to write a little bit about John Lennon.

And I don't know why.

You have to keep in mind, my knowledge of Beatles lore in general and John Lennon in particular is sketchy at best.  Growing up, I was into New Wave, and when that started dying out in favor of the Rise Of Glam Rock, I switched to r&b and jazz.  I simply never had a firm grounding in rock music in general.  As a result, while I can appreciate, say, Elvis Pressley, the godlike status which he is afforded stupefies me.

Part of it may be how lopsided success is in any creative field.  There are bands that I love, respect, and admire that never catch a break, their members languishing in obscurity.  They make great stuff, the crowds love them once they hear them, but they never get anywhere.  And there are plenty more where that are rewarded with disproportionate success who act with entitlement.  I didn't understand the reverance Michael Jackson was afforded after he died.  Everyone talked about a great talent that had been snuffed out (to my mind, he was a great talent only with the right producer.  He was great in the Jackson 5 days, and what made Thriller so great was Quincy Jones' sensibilities.  Jackson producing his own stuff was unfocused and lacked polish) afterwards.  A few days before, these same people would have been taking cheap shots at him for his alledged flings with boys or his odd behavior.  Jim Morrison was an alcoholic moron who managed to die before his act wore thin.  Mariah Carrey will stop shows so someone can bring her a drink or fluff her hair on stage in the middle of a number, or recently adjust her footwear.  She said, "Everyone calls me a diva, I might as well act like one."  Uh, that's a good reason to NOT act like a diva.  I loved her first two albums, but after she started acting like that, I couldn't listen to them anymore, I was too aware of the person behind them.  One of my favorite examples was how members of Hepcat (traditional ska band) drove themselves to their shows, barely sold records, and had been together for years but no one except us rudies heard of them.  Meanwhile, ABC manufactures the boy band O Town and they get tours, TV spots, appearances on soundtracks, etc.  The Monkees may have been called the Pre-Fab Four, but that at least they had talent and actually recorded good music.

Lennon was a puzzle.  My understanding (once again, Beatles Lore is not my strong suit) is that, in the early days, he and McCartney had different approaches and you could tell who did what.  As the Beatles grew, the differences became more apparent.  McCartney leaned towards things that were supposed to be refined and elegant, although they didn't always work out that way (Maxwell's Silver Hammer, a song I still can't listen to without my head quirking and going, "...wat?").  Lennon, on the other hand, seemed to be known for a more cynical view.  It's certainly reflected in the actual music they created.

Perhaps this is part of the Lennon mystique.  Lennon had a worldly view.  He was aware of how things were and how things don't work out.  The controversy over his, "We're more popular than Jesus," is a good example.  The quote was taken out of context, Lennon was making a point about how transitory fame was.  But this one line was focused on and twisted into arrogance instead of reflection.  (Ironically, McCartney said, "Somebody said to me, 'But the Beatles were anti-materialistic.'  That's a huge myth.  John and I literally used to sit down and say, 'Now, let's write a swimming pool.'")  Lennon seemed to be searching for something.  Something that he felt the world was set up to provide, but somehow wasn't.  McCartney continued to make music, but it was more general and adult contemp friendly (much as I love "Band On The Run," bits like "Silly Love Songs" just seem radio friendly, not like music to actually seek out).  Lennon was still trying to sort out the world.  What is generally agreed to be his best song, "Imagine", as a prayer and an aspiration, with an undercurrent of sadness that the only way to experience this vision is in dreams instead of finding it in the real world.

Lennon's search only ended because of a gunshot.  I say that because I'm not sure, even if he'd lived, if he would have found the answers to life, the universe, and everything.  Not much of a Lennon fan.  But if what we create truly is a reflection of what we are, Lennon was a lot like us -- aware of the imperfections of life and powerless to do anything about it.  Given the reverence he is held with, he's probably further devestated by the irony now.
Tags: art, important life lessons

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