By Alan L. Chrisman
John Lennon had a rough childhood; his father abandoned him when he was 6 years old and his mother, Julia, left him to be raised by his stern, but loving Aunt Mimi, although he saw his mother occasionally. But she was killed by a drunken off-duty policeman when he was still as teenager. This made the young Lennon angry, bitter and sarcastic. He said himself that if he hadn’t become a musician and an artist, he may well have ended up in jail or worse. So Lennon’s life is a case study in how a difficult beginning can affect a human being’s development, but yet it can lead to change.
That tough outside, which he still maintained sometimes as an adult too, also hid a sensitivity and even sadness underneath, which he was able, fortunately, to channel into his music and ideals. Lennon was full of contradictions, but his not being afraid to be remarkably honest about his human frailties, only made him and his art more accessible to other people. He could express emotions with which we could also identify with ourselves, perhaps as well as anyone in pop culture. And that is why his works, both as a Beatle and solo, I think, still stand up through time.
John Lennon’s life can, perhaps, be seen as an example how an insecure, hurt child and person can, through talent, hard work and self-examination, turn his life around. John said when he talked about ending wars and violence, he also meant the violence and wars we all have inside us too. We have to start first with confronting and changing them too and with how we treat the people around us. It is of course, sadly ironic that he was murdered by someone who hadn’t faced and dealt with his own demons, but took it out on someone else. Lennon was quite aware of that risk. He said in an interview shortly before his death, “the people who campaign for peace, like Ghandi, often die by violence ” and he sang “the way things are going, they’re going to crucify me”, so he knew what might be at stake. He knew full well that fame, which so many craved, had its dangerous side. George Harrison, whose death in 2001 was also quickened by another mentally-unstable person, when he was stabbed several times, had said about The Beatles’ sometimes overly-rabid fans, “we gave them everything, our nervous systems. What do they want, our blood too?”
Unfortunately, the world still has wars and there’s still too much violence and fear and inequality in the world. When Lennon talked of these afflictions, he was quite aware that those insecurities were also within ourselves as well. His own life is an example of this. But he was fortunately talented enough and brave enough to turn his own demons into songs and art and to finally become a good father, husband, and human being whose transformation of it into music and love is the real story of John Lennon.
JOHN LENNON singing about loss of his “MOTHER”, 1st solo album, POB, 1970:
John Lennon’s tribute to his mother, “Julia”, later on White Album, 1968: