Happy Birthday, Mr. Lennon

Today, October 9, is John Lennon’s birthday. He would have turned 69. It’s also my mom’s birthday, so Happy Birthday, Mom! (And let us not further forget Sean Lennon, and the fantabulous Giles Martin. Amazing people are born on October 9, that’s all I can say.)

Last year, in honor of this day, I posted Imagine. I considered posting Mother this year, but seeing as how it’s also my mom’s birthday, thought it might give a wrong impression about my relationship with her! So instead, I’m going to go with God:

Lots of people hear this song as John burning bridges and slamming doors. It is, in part — and I can also imagine that hearing the song when it first came out was probably traumatic for a lot of Beatles fans. But I tend to think that John needed to close those doors to open new ones. Many people logically hear all of the things that John doesn’t believe in; I tend to hear “I just believe in me, Yoko and me,” and I find that an incredibly hopeful message. Plenty hear John denouncing his identity as the walrus, but I tend to hear him claiming his true identity. I hear him announcing that he is John, and I hear him coming to peace with that.

I’ve also argued for a long time that while starting one of the Beatles was one of the best things that ever happened to John, breaking up the Beatles was one of the best things that ever happened for him personally, too. Whatever you think about the effect on his music, I think that it allowed him to grow and find happiness that staying with the Beatles never would have. With this song, John may in fact be smashing his public image, and a perception that many people held dear — but I think he’s also establishing himself. And I find that fitting on a day for celebrating his life.

Because I need it, you also get the bonus track of Hold On:

Happy Birthday, John. Also, for those who are interested, don’t forget to watch Yoko’s lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower. It goes on at 3:30 EST.

0 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Mr. Lennon

  1. Moody Springs

    Love him, love him. When VH1 still used to play music-related programming rather than a bunch of crappy reality shows, I caught his Behind the Music several times, and even though I had already seen it, it always sat there just bawling. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
  2. DaisyDeadhead

    How did I know this would be here!? ๐Ÿ™‚

    I just miss him SO much. I know he would have re-entered the political sphere later in his life. (I took a break for awhile too… I am confident he would have ended his political hiatus.) What a great resource he would have been for our side, as Springsteen and others have been. (sigh) As sexist and nasty as he often was, I miss Frank Zappa for the same reason… one can only imagine what he would have said about the birthers, for instance. (It woulda been a whole song!)

    We need to treasure the progressive artists in our midst, they are like precious jewels.

    And wasn’t John just the brightest jewel?

    Reply
  3. Cara Post author

    Yay, I love being a go-to person for Beatles-related content! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I think that John likely dropped out of political life because he was burnt out, and also because of how many troubles it caused him in his personal life (Nixon, immigration). I think that he eventually would have gotten involved again — indeed, seeing as how he never went back to England even once he could, I’d say he might have eventually become a citizen so that he wouldn’t have to worry about it, anymore. Not to mention, Yoko relaunced her own peace campaign after 9/11 — if nothing else, I think that John would have been heavily involved in that.

    Reply
  4. Vanessa Lynne

    i am also a Beatles fan and John Lennon is my favorite. Yoko Ono is also someone i admire very much, not just for her commitment to peace and progressive issues in general, but for how strong and dignified she has always been in the face of those who criticized and hated her.

    Yes, I think that John Lennon was burnt out not only on politics but being in the public eye in general, and needed the time off to just be a regular person to the extent that a former Beatle and counterculture icon could be. I feel like that was one of the greatest tragedies of his death, that it happened at a time when he finally seemed to have overcome a lot of his past traumas and had built a happy and stable life with Yoko and his children.

    I think he would have eventually gotten involved in activism again, and I also think that had he not been killed, the Beatles would have gotten back together sometime in the 1980s or 90s. All four of them had unique creative visions that they needed to express outside of the Beatles, but after a decade or more of being on their own I think they would have been inclined to get back together at least for the occasional concert tour, much like Simon and Garfunkel.

    Reply

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