The Sixties truly were The Decade That Changed the World, and The Beatles and Lennon were a large part of that. It really was a dividing line; a black and white, mono world before and a stereo, colour world after. For me, growing up with them, it was Lennon, although I liked all their music, which most interested me, from the beginning. He and they had a profound influence on my life and got me involved in music, as I still am.
Everyone has a favorite Lennon song. I saw his solo songs as an extension of his Beatles’ work. There are too many to list, but some of my very favorites include: “Help”, “Girl”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “ In My Life”, “ All You Need”, “Revolution”, “Across The Universe”, “Don’t Let Me Down” and solo: “Instant Karma”, “Give Peace A Chance”, “ Working Class Hero”, “Jealous Guy”, “#9 Dream”, “Woman”, “ Starting Over”, “I’m Losing You”, “Watching The Wheels”, and of course, “Imagine”.
It’s hard to fathom, how much they changed music, because we’ve been living with the changes ever since. Before The Beatles nobody took pop music and pop culture seriously; it was only for the kids. But they and other 60’s groups especially, showed it could also be an art form.
We, it seems, like to have our icons live fast and die young, so we can try and freeze-frame them in their youth, as we have to get older. We all know the stories and legends about their rise and success, and they and their songs have all become part of our shared culture. But Lennon, especially, will be remember for more than just his great music. He also believed in certain ideals, such as trying to change things through peaceful methods.
At the time, Lennon was criticized by the left for not answering the violence of the Establishment with the same. But he and Yoko (who had been a conceptual artist before she met Lennon and whose poem had first inspired, “ Imagine”), felt that we had been brainwashed with wars and violence and we should at least give “Peace a Chance”. It may have seemed somewhat 60’s- simplistic perhaps at the time, but part of being an artist is never losing the creative innocence of a child. In his “Revolution”, he said we should “free our minds instead”. And Lennon, thankfully never lost that innocence in his songs.
He also seemed to be remarkably outspoken in his honesty, even about his own contradictions. For all these reasons, as well as his music, he is even more respected today.
Also a big part of The Beatles’ appeal was their and, his especially, sense of humour and wit. And it’s sorely missed today. It would be interesting to see what he would think of our present day society. What would he think of the internet and social media and governments and corporations knowing so much about us and our self-obsessed culture (“Nobody Told Me”, there’d be days Like these”). What would he think of our current music scene (which mainly has reverted back to disposable pop) and how we can have it 24/7 and not pay the artists for their work? It would certainly be fascinating to see what he would have said and expressed in his songs.
But a half century later, as I say, they and his music has stood up. I saw McCartney play in 2013 and, at age 71, he still rocked and Ringo is still touring. Harrison is respected too for his music and beliefs, like Lennon. And Lennon, if he were around, would no doubt still be rocking too.
There will only be one Elvis and one Beatles and certainly, one John Lennon. There hasn’t been, I don’t think, anyone else come close, to his uniqueness. But his music and inspiration and ideals will carry on. Despite the negative actions of some negative persons, they weren’t able to silence John Lennon- “Imagine”.
For more stories how The Beatles and John Lennon , especially, influenced Alan Chrisman, and millions of others, see excerpts from his book,” It’s A Long Way Home (& How Beatles’ Music Saved My Life). www.rockthistownproductions.com
John Lennon’s almost child-like innocence, but yet wise, words., that he fortunately never lost in his songs.
See “IMAGINE” by John Lennon: