So, John Lennon would have turned 75-years old today if some lunatic with a gun hadn’t taken him down nearly 35 years ago.
Lennon was a polarizing figure for sure, a flawed human being like everyone else, but there’s no question that his is one of the greatest stories in music history, and I’ve got to say that he’s been a huge influence on me, musically and otherwise.
John Lennon, the Beatle, seemed to have everything: superstardom, adoring fans, a critically acclaimed body of work, a loving wife, and a beautiful son. He could have coasted the rest of his life on that wave, but he chose to evolve as a musician and a human being, gradually drifting from the relatively clean-cut guy who wrote Please Please Me, to psychedelic poster child, to hippie activist, and beyond, never looking back.
He alienated his fans, he alienated his songwriting partner, he left his wife and son, and he left the greatest band the world has ever seen.
Like I said, one helluva story.
I’ve never been one to argue who the best Beatle was, as is common amongst fans, and I never disliked any of them, though I’ve not always liked all over their post-Beatles material.
And yet, there’s no doubt that John was my favorite. I’ve always, on the whole, loved his music more than the work of the others, ever so slightly more in some cases, and yet it was his emergence as a peacenik activist in the late 1960s that won me over completely. That he was willing grow out his hair and beard in the face of stifling and oppressive conservatism, that he was willing to leverage his massive celebrity to promote love and peace at a particularly volatile period of history, moved and influenced me deeply.
Yes, you were not and still are not the only dreamer, John.
But like I said, he was no angel. He was part hippie and part raunchy Rock&Roller, kinda like me!
And so, for this Video Fridays installment, I thought I’d show both sides of John Lennon, starting with his first overtly peacenik song, All You Need Is Love, a song that, in it’s message, however naive some may call it, still makes my eyes drip; and followed by one of my all-time favorite live performances, the White Album track Yer Blues, performed with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Mitch Mitchell at the 1968 Rolling Stone’s Rock & Roll Circus.
Happy Birthday, John, and Happy Weekend, everyone!