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.