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John Lennon: A Life And Legacy

The musical heirs to John Lennon. We’ll look at the Beatle’s life and living legacy.

Former Beatle John Lennon, right, gestures as he speaks at a peace rally in New York's Bryant Park on April 22, 1972. Standing beside him is his wife, Yoko Ono. The rally and march of some 30,000 persons in New York City is part of a nationwide day of protests and demonstrations against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. (AP)

Former Beatle John Lennon, right, gestures as he speaks at a peace rally in New York's Bryant Park on April 22, 1972. Standing beside him is his wife, Yoko Ono. The rally and march of some 30,000 persons in New York City is part of a nationwide day of protests and demonstrations against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. (AP)

In another time of turmoil, there were The Beatles and at the heart of the Beatles, John Lennon. They came on with love songs, and went to the ramparts of society and psychology. Sang of revolution, sang of despair, sang of visions and dreams.

Lennon was the wire-rimmed sphinx and showman. The mind that pulled. What lasts from that? And who are the heirs to Lennon now?

This hour On Point: a new life of John Lennon, and his living legacy.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Tim Riley, music critic and assistant professor at Emerson College. He’s editor of the “Riley Rock Index” website. His new book is Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music – the Definitive Life.

From Tom’s Reading List

Christian Science Monitor “Beatles scholars tend to be the only people who know that Alfred Lennon, Lennon’s father, left behind a memoir called “Daddy Come Home.” ”

Sunday Times “It’s hard to get at the unvarnished truth about the Beatles. This exhaustively researched life of the band’s chief cynic, John Lennon, aims to get beneath the surface gloss. ”

Slate “There’s not a full concert anywhere and no documentation of a song evolving over six or seven takes. This kind of stuff could have been included on the new set without adding any additional CDs. Why just cash in with pristine albums when you can add more heft to this most massive of legacies? ”

Playlist

Imagine by John Lennon
If I Fell by The Beatles
Think I’m in Love by Beck
Strawberry Fields Forever (Lennon Demo Tape) by The Beatles
Don’t Let Me Down by The Beatles
Instant Karma (We all shine on) by John Lennon
Cold Turkey by John Lennon
Strange Times by the Black Keys
Born This Way by Lady Gaga
I am the Walrus by The Beatles
Revolution by The Beatles
Beautiful Boy by John Lennon
Submarines of Stockholm by A.C. Newman
I Dig A Pony by St. Vincent
Power to the People by John Lennon

Excerpt

Preface

When two great Saints meet, it is a humbling experience. The long battles to prove he was a saint . . .
PAUL MCCARTNEY, DEDICATION TO TWO VIRGINS, 1968

WHEN JOHN LENNON PRESENTED HIS FELLOW BEATLES WITH THE cover art for Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins in November of 1968, everybody recoiled. McCartney’s quote sat beneath Lennon and his lover, Yoko Ono, holding hands naked in their bedroom with postcoital grins. EMI’s lordly chairman, Sir Joseph Lockwood, refused to distribute the record, pronouncing John and Yoko “ugly.” In America, Capitol Records balked, and even when the album was shipped through an independent distributor, New Jersey authorities confiscated thirty thousand copies, declaring the cover “obscene.” Controversy subsumed the record’s experimental sounds. Nobody could understand why Lennon would deliberately extend the public-relations debacle he had already created by leaving his British wife and child for the Japanese-American “conceptual artist,” especially on the eve of the first Beatles album in eighteen months, the double White Album (originally The Beatles).

Time has papered over the photograph’s insolence: Lennon was pouring acid on the Beatle myth, demonstrating how shallow and ridiculous pop stardom seemed even as his band hit new creative peaks. This would be just the first of many media campaigns he waged to kick his way out of the Beatles.

That July of 1968, when this insouciant photograph was taken, the Beatles were slogging through the “poisonous” White Album sessions that prompted EMI engineer Geoff Emerick to quit in a huff. Drummer Ringo Starr walked out soon thereafter. The Lennon and McCartney songwriting collaboration had long since trailed off into independent work, even though the songs still bore the trademark Lennon-McCartney authorship. Increasingly, their partnership had graduated from aesthetic one-upmanship to outright conflict: in that same hectic period, the band vetoed Lennon’s first rendition of “Revolution” as too slow, and even the blazing remake sat on the flip side of McCartney’s “Hey Jude,” the band’s revitalizing summer single.

To the others, this widening rift coincided with Yoko Ono’s divisive presence. Lennon could not have chosen a more passive-aggressive way to disrupt the group’s chemistry. Yoko planted herself not only at recording sessions but at private group demos and Apple business meetings, offering comments as if she were a de facto member of the band. Not even the “Beatle wives” had ever been granted such access. She roamed the EMI studios unfettered, without so much as an introduction to George Martin, the band’s producer.

But whatever resentments among the band, the bond between Lennon and Ono was already immune to protest.
BY NOW, SOME FORTY YEARS AFTER the group’s breakup, the Lennon legend has graduated into myth of an entirely different order than the one that turned him into an international rock star, the one he retired from for the last five years of his life to raise his son Sean. On the radio, he sings to us from some idealized Tower of Song, frozen in time and memory like Buddy Holly or Eddie Cochran, those creative martyrs who haunted his own impressionable adolescence.

The remaining three Beatles reunited in the mid-1990s to tell their own version of their story with the Anthology video and book, the band’s story tunneled into nostalgia. In 2000, the greatest-hits album 1 became the fastest-selling CD in history, reached number one in twenty-eight countries, and went on to sell more than thirty-one million copies worldwide, the best-selling album of the decade in the United States. At decade’s end, the Beatles became the best-selling band of the new millennium. (This would be the last release guitarist George Harrison oversaw directly; he died in November of 2001.) In 2006, the Cirque du Soleil’s Love began selling out six shows a week in a Las Vegas theater with a customized sound system by producer George Martin and his son, Giles. Its remashed sound track became still another huge hit.

Lennon’s own story, of course, had passed through rock’s looking glass long before. He hovered over every frame of the Anthology, and his familiar quotes heaved with subtext: it was hard to imagine Lennon participating in such a whitewashed, sentimental project devoted to enshrining a myth he had done so much to puncture during his lifetime. His post-Beatle revolts linked the personal with the aesthetic: he first ran off with Yoko Ono, then married her the week after McCartney married Linda Eastman, then howled at the demise of the Beatles (on 1970’s blistering Plastic Ono Band) even as he subtly helped to engineer it. He rebuilt his peacenik/politico façade while ridiculing his former partner McCartney (in “How Do You Sleep?”), before careening into a hackneyed drunken-celebrity “lost weekend” in the early 1970s. Finally, after winning a long immigration battle with the Nixon administration, he washed up onto the shores of storybook “monogamy” and parenthood during a five-year sabbatical. His assassination in 1980 quelled Beatle reunion rumors, but only temporarily.

In the fall of 2009, the Beatles’ entire sixties recording catalog was remastered in luminous digital audio, updating the flat CD mixes that had circulated since the late 1980s. These joint releases sent both Lennon’s myth and his Beatle legacy into yet another orbit, reigniting stalwart fans and breeding a vast young listenership. Scholars who had studied these recordings for decades suddenly heard previously unnoticed details, alongside a new vocal and instrumental physicality. New ideas came to the fore, and lingering contradictions commanded fresh attention. The finely blended close harmonies on “This Boy” and “Nowhere Man” took on new immediacy; McCartney’s guitar solos on “Taxman” and “Good Morning Good Morning” suddenly seemed richer, grittier, and downright contemporary. Alongside elaborately detailed sessionographies like The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn (1992) and Recording the Beatles by Kevin Ryan and Brian Kehew (2006), these remasters confirmed how profoundly the Lennon-McCartney recording catalog transcended its era.

Britons have come to rank the Beatles just after Shakespeare as a core element of their national identity, but few feel challenged to explain how a rock career, once culture’s most defiled profession, now sits comfortably next to one of Western culture’s highest achievements. Lennon’s childhood is generally known to be “traumatic,” but even some of the better biographers give his primal separation scene (between his father, Alfred Lennon, and his mother, Julia Stanley Lennon, in an uncle’s Blackpool home in June of 1946) a paragraph at most. This black hole of emotional loss swallows up all his intimacies. He spent his life adopting father figures and mourning his mother, who died in an accident when he was seventeen. “I lost my mother twice,” he once said; and like a lot of his lyrics, these words are truer than many fans appreciate.

In many of his key intimate relationships—with songwriting partner Paul McCartney, manager Brian Epstein, drummer Ringo Starr, and first wife Cynthia Powell—Lennon balanced alliances with fragile affections; he seemed to spend almost two-thirds of his Beatle tenure surrounded by people he wished to avoid. As his first marriage fell apart, Lennon’s reliance on McCartney also began to fall away, even as McCartney’s support for his eccentricities strengthened. (One intriguing subtext of “Hey Jude” involves McCartney’s affection for Cynthia and his fatherly sympathy toward Julian.) Their showbiz feud over control of their publishing catalog belies their friendship. And Lennon’s influence on McCartney is far more pronounced, and remarked upon, than McCartney’s subtler influence on Lennon. As they entered their epic feud, Lennon made sure Ringo Starr drummed on his 1970 “divorce” album, Plastic Ono Band; but Lennon never appeared on a single McCartney solo album, or vice versa.

These relationships inflect Lennon’s music in chimerical ways: he does some of his best writing while strung out on drugs as his first marriage collapses throughout 1966 (“She Said She Said,” “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “Strawberry Fields Forever”). Alternatively, the late period (1975–80), where he commits himself to fathering and private life, sees a lull in musical craft. How best to understand Lennon’s music in regard to his life? Where does the music illuminate the life, and where does it veer off into myth?

Beyond his music, Lennon’s talent as a cartoonist, illustrator, lithographer, and collage artist influenced every aspect of his work. His songs carve out richly textured spaces of sound, which spring from a lifelong interest in pop and modern art. With his art-school classmate Stu Sutcliffe, Lennon roamed Hamburg’s museums in 1960, talking about how rock ’n’ roll seemed poised to fulfill modern art’s promise. One night, Sutcliffe recognized the artist Eduardo Paolozzi at a nightclub with students, and approached him about his work, long before Paolozzi became a touchstone for Andy Warhol. This visual arc runs from Sutcliffe on through the classic Beatle pop art of Peter Blake (the Sgt. Pepper cover) and Richard Hamilton (the White Album package) and the Magritte-inspired Apple logo, and gives Lennon’s second marriage, to New York City–based conceptual artist Ono, hints of fate.

In chasing down all these threads of Lennon’s story, several important sources have fallen out of print and general notice. Pete Shotton, Lennon’s childhood friend from Woolton, wrote a memoir back in 1982 called In My Life, which details many fascinating scrapes and insights into Julia Stanley’s sister, Aunt Mimi, the prim hypocrite who wound up raising John. Alfred Lennon’s 1991 memoir, Daddy Come Home, relates his side of the child’s story, the Blackpool episode, and the brief skirmishes between father and son as adults.

Beyond the music, many journalists dismiss the counterculture Lennon helped inspire, or how his songs snared key youth movement tensions (from “You Can’t Do That” and “And Your Bird Can Sing” on through “Revolution,” “Imagine,” “Woman Is the Nigger of the World,” and “Beautiful Boy”). This would be like covering Muhammad Ali without referencing his immense civil rights status. The new era of scholarship ushered in by EMI’s 2009 remasters, compressed onto a single green USB flash drive, earned comparison of Beatle recordings to popular work by Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong. Surely Lennon would chuckle at how “respectable” the rock world has become since his death, which might be the price of his music’s resilience.

With his Beatles and beyond, Lennon remains a defining legend for our time: we return to it to tell ourselves our most cherished stories about how we grew up, came of age, and became adults. The music, of course, remains enchanting enough to revisit Lennon and the Beatles as a source of meaning in the modern era. But how much can it really tell us about Lennon’s intellectual and emotional life? Where does his life align with his art, and where does his songwriting balloon into grandiose self-mythology? Can the music begin to tell us how it felt to be Lennon, or just how he wanted us to experience him? Can the British “John Lennon” be reconciled with his American persona? What do the overlaps and contradictions tell us about his accomplishment? These biographical questions beguile a music critic, and exploring these tensions has only made Lennon’s songs seem richer, more demanding, less encumbered by the tensions of his era.

Tim Riley
Concord, Massachusetts
2011

From LENNON by Tim Riley. Copyright ©2011 Tim Riley. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

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  • Wm. James from Missouri

    Imagine all the (NPR) posters, living life in peace… :)

    The Beatles were a back up band for Tony Sheridan in the early days. Any info on John’s thoughts about this ? When I was a kid I had every Beatle album there was, and a single with the Beatles as a backup band for Tony Sheridan, singing “ My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean” . How retro is that ?

  • Brett

    I guess I’ll listen, having been afflicted with Beatlemania since I was exposed the first night they appeared on Ed Sullivan; it’s not terminal, though, and topic alone is often not enough to pique my interest…

    I can’t really glean what this segment will actually be about in looking up top. Musical heirs to John Lennon? Anyone with hearing can readily see the Beatles’ influence on modern popular music. John’s own sons, Julian and Sean, have made some good music in their lifetimes, as has George’s son, Dani (I think I spelled that right). One thing’s for sure, Beatles’ stuff about their lives still sells! I hope this segment isn’t just part of that repackaging of a product, and it can actually claim some real and interesting insights; although, I can’t imagine anything new revealed about Lennon (or any of the others) after all these years of stories, books, magazine articles, interviews, “lost” music, etc. I think–because of the nature of how music gets to the ears of people these days, and because what The Beatles achieved (in terms of freedom of creativity while still being commercially viable) was unique– there will not be any “heirs” in the sense that a single musical figure will emerge with the same kind of freedoms and will create music that will endure without sounding dated, for the most part, some nearly fifty years later. The Beatles were allowed to develop as artists because of their popularity. There were also big changes happening musically and socially during their rise to fame, and they were experiencing those changes in their own lives, personally and professionally growing and changing with what was happening. There were also a lot of new technologies, and their popularity, in addition to what was happening socially, gave them a lot of freedom to take an idea and run with it. They seemed to embody the changes that were taking place in society. Music was also allowed in the ’60′s to develop somewhat on its own terms beyond sales figures for the last quarter, so to speak, so in a sense, a Beatles’ type musician emerging today is about as likely as a returning strong middle class in the US! Digital technology has given many ’60′s Rockers a second career, an influence on new generations and financial security, but I think The Beatles would have enjoyed their popularity and influence even if those technologies hadn’t come along when they did.I, personally, am not that interested in hearing more about Lennon’s personal life, or any of The Beatles lives, unless there might be some insight into the creative process. All of The Beatles were human in the flawed sense of the term, just like any other person. I don’t think there is much value in speculating at this point, for example, about why Lennon seemed so subdued during the filming of “Let It Be,” that he did heroin and acid…blah, blah, blah…P.S. -I’ve been working on a book about Lonnie Donegan’s (and Skiffle’s) influence on Brits like Lennon, McCartney, Daltry, Jagger, etc. I doubt the British invasion would have happened at all without the ’60′s British rockers being influenced by Donegan’s music when they were teens in the ’50′s…Now there’s a real story, where perhaps a little speculation might actually produce some insight and contribute in a real sense to understanding music’s genealogy. And if I don’t hear Donegan’s name mentioned on this show, then I’ll know the guests are not to be taken seriously! ;-)     

    • Brett

      So, it shows the line break after the first paragraph but no line break after the next paragraphs?!?!?! WTF!! As the young folks say!

      • Barry D.

        You need not bother your empty little head, nobody is going to bother reading your long and boring diatribe.

        • Brett

          Not a friendly sort, are you? By the way, I think you’d better look up the word diatribe; the OED will do…to paraphrase the character Enigo Montoya, “I don’t think it means what you think it means.” 

  • Cory

    Musically, John was my 2nd favorite Beatle.  Y’know what I really loved about him?  He was successful and wealthy by any measure, yet it never for a moment stopped him from being his own man.

    I have strong political and social beliefs, but it shames me to say that as the father of a young family that I could be “bought off” fairly easily.  No such thing was ever true of John.  I’m the guy who’d like to see the world change, John Lennon was the guy who was going to go out and change it.  That is a kind of courage and conviction that cannot be bought.

  • Gregg

    I wonder what John Lennon would have thought about the wall street protest or the Tea Party.

    • Wes, Cambridge, MA

      From Flips Blog
      http://flips.bz/yoko-ono-supports-occupy-wall-street-exclusive/

      Here’s what Yoko Ono has to say about the Wall Street protest movement:

      “I am now in London, going from here to several countries before the end of this year. I love ‘Occupy Wall Street’! John is sending his smile to ‘Occupy Wall Street’. I am sending my love to ‘Occupy Wall Street’. We are all working together. You are letting the world know that American activists are doing this. That gives them inspiration and encouragement. That is very important now for the United States and the world. As John said, “One hero cannot do it. Each one of us have to be heroes.” And you are. Thank you…”

    • Wes, Cambridge, MA

      From Washington Examiner
      http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/yeas-nays/yoko-tea-party-not-039scary039

      Here is what Yoko Ono has to say about the Tea Party:

      “It’s not a scary thing,” Ono said. “Each person has something to say, and if they want to say something like that, that’s fine.”

      Ono said she thought it was important for people to have different opinions, and that her opinion differed from the Tea Party protesters.

      “They probably thought [protesting] was a nice tactic, an effective thing to do,” she said. “I think the idea has the power, if their idea has the power then it will stick; the form is not what creates reality … it’s the substance.”

  • Charlie mc

    “Life is what happens to you while making other plans”. Single most powerful line I’ve ever heard.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Musical heirs to the Beatles?  Name any pop star you care to mention.  The Beatles were never a rock band.  Why this mix of two-minute love songs, schmaltzy pop, and wacko religion and politics ever got anyone’s attention is beyond me.

  • Beez

    Big Up John Lennon…as I listen to John Legend

  • troll doll

    Ive been listening to so much Lennon lately. His songs are so beautiful and how can you argue with asking for peace? Lets not forget that he was banned on Clear Channel right after 9/11. Give Peace a chance.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      How can I argue with asking for peace?  Easily.  Peace is not the answer to every question of international relations.

      There are two topics here:  Do we agree with the musician’s politics, and is this a great musician?  The answer to the first question tells us nothing about the second.

      • Beez

        You’re putting the cart before the horse. If more was done on a diplomatic level then that would enable peaceful negotiations in all international relationships.
        If you want to refer to the mid-east struggles the simple answer is not “they hate our freedom”, but rather if more was done to foster “peaceful” relations when the west was “building its freedom”, the hostilities we see now may very well not be in existence.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          What happens when a well-armed opponent refuses to follow your civilized proposal?  You have the choice to surrender or fight.

          • T. Ferguson

            What century are you talking about?  Or video game?  Mr. Camp it’s just a thread about John Lennon- get a grip.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            I’m talking about any century in which human beings have lived.  My comments are relevant because one of Lennon’s arguments was for peace.

          • Beez

            Then you challenge them to a dance off!
            I mean, sure Greg, I see where you’re going but I’m not going to bite.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            Indeed–you don’t bite, and the other guy does.  Who gets chewed?  To qutoe firearms expert and historian Jeff Cooper, “One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not
            agree that ‘violence begets violence.’ I told him that it is my earnest
            endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure — and in
            some cases I have — that any man who offers violence to his fellow
            citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy.”

  • Beez

    Robert Nesta Marley is the greatest musician I’ve ever heard. As far as political and social commentary…unrivaled!

  • Mike in PA

    Thom Yorke of Radiohead.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    U2 creates much more lyrically interesting songs, but the influence is obvious.

  • Somalia

    lennon who came over on a visa in 71, was genuinely commotted to ending uncle sam’s savage mass homicide in southeast asia (laos,cambodia,vietnam,) as any u.s. citizen as far back as 1964 in their first tour of u.s. also civil rights, and tried as hard as anyone to oust nixon in the 72 election, henceforth had his green card and citizenship tied up by the Nixon administration’s INS (immigration and naturalization services).

    however, recently there was word that he had been supportive of President-elect Ronald Reagan in December 1980 right before he was murdered.  Is there any truth to the Reagan thing and if so, What an F**kin SELLOUT!  If not, My Apologies. 

  • Judi in Vermont

    I just want to thank you for this show. I am 31 and was introduced to the Beatles and John Lennon from the get go. For some reason that I cannot explain I have always loved and have felt a connection with John Lennon. His songs do something to my heart and soul that few artists have even touched upon. We were so lucky to  have him on this earth.

  • jim

    We need a living John Lennon in this tough period when corporation, wrong politics, and money get into our way of living right.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Ted Nugent is doing what he can. . .

  • Somalia

    John Lennon, recent citizen of the U.S., voted for Ronald Reagan in the November 1980 presidential election.  I’m sorry, but that is a major stain on his personal legacy in my humble opinion.

    Mr. Ashbrook, PLEASE take 30 seconds to address this important insight!!!!!!!!??????????????????

    • Jones

      What is your source for this information?

      • Somalia

        Which bit mate?

      • Somalia

        Oh sorry mate, Uh, I heard that one of his close pals said that he was positive on the then President-elect Reagan right before he was killed.  I think I heard it on Hardball Msnbc, a couple months ago, it might a new book out or something, I’m not sure what the actual medium it was, but I definitely heard that a few months ago.

  • Chilefarms

    Circulating on the internet right now this quote; Lennon as the political strategist:

    “When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game.  The establishment will irritate you – pull your bread, flick your face – to make you fight.  Because once they’ve gotyou violent, then they know how to handle you.  The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.”   – John LennonParticularly relevant as we watch the Occupation of Wall Street – the American Autumn – spread around the country.

  • Pauline Procopy

    Tom, why do people ask these questions? there will never ever be another John Lennon, or Bob Dylan, or any one of that stature. these people are once in a life time artists. I miss him to this day. there are artists that can write, and perform and make one’s heart soar with happiness or explore the depths of  pain. but there will never be another John. thanks for listening.

  • Jason

    A gfriend told me “Working Class Hero” was written to be sarcastic. It doesnt sound it to me. Could you explain?

  • Stef

     I love all that nostalgic music & lennon of course but think about it, “imagine no heaven, above us only sky”, how trite…the origin of the word is the same. It’s only the religious distortion he’s pointing out but he doesn’t seem to know the fact is that this planet isn’t here by accident. Jesus wasn’t an illusion, The RELIGIOUS JESUS IS THE ILLUSION! A friend of a friend channels lennon. He says he’s happy and all we need is love. Why not just die then & we’ll be happy too, and anyway, isn’t love a verb so isn’t it really, all we need is love of what or who! Love by itself is nothing but another spiritual illusion but then at least we’re not killing people, unless what we love is ourselves so much that we think ourselves justified to get rid of those deemed lessor. I know where John and Paul are coming from, but if we are going to idolize them, then I’m throwing in my 2 cents for whatever it’s worth. rock on!

    • Anonymous

      I think he actually meant “no heaven” and not as a word synonymous with sky.  “No hell” followed closely.  He also wrote, “I don’t believe in magic . . . I don’t believe in Bible . . . I don’t believe in Jesus” 

  • Mike

    Maynard James Keenan of Tool, APC, and Puscifer. 

  • Stephanie

    Oasis! The similarities musically are obvious…

  • Nicole

     Jon Legend’s music reminds me of John Lennon’s.Although not the same genre.

    • Nbrodieday

      I meant Jon Legends lyrics.

  • Jonibologni

    ANDREW BIRD !!! Listen to the lyrics of “Banking on a Myth”

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Lennon should have got himself a carry license and kept an eye out for stalkers.

    • Anonymous

      Or the US should do a better job of keeping crazy people from getting guns.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        We do.  How often does a crazy person kill someone with a gun?  Compare that number to how often a crazy person kills someone with an automobile.

    • Somalia

      Easy Cowboy, just the opposite, Lennon left his residence that night with no security and no piece, only P-E-A-C-E.  Indeed, he even gave his autograph and a tender greeting to the Wakjob ” J.D. Salinger KooKooBird ” Mark David Chapman, Lennon’s would be killer.

      So tragic, end of an era, and then… enter the Age of Reagan!!!  Morning in America, How’s that working out 4 ya.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Yup, shows you how carrying peace works.

    • zero

      Ah, the conservative answer to gun violence–cold war politics. 

      How about every body on a airplane carry a gun in order to stop hijackings…? 

  • Stef

    I know what he’s saying by Heaven. It’s no “kingdom of Heaven” which is a reference to where Jesus said he was from. Well, for a fact I KNOW that LENNON simply didn’t KNOW what’s outside our little fishbowl. So many humans think their crap doesn’t stink and artists are often just as big headed as staunch religionists and staunch spiritualists and staunch atheists. I have a lot of what in a court of law could be seen as proof that there is a Kingdom of Heaven, but it’s the religious/christian antiJesus message that illusionizes it into a country club do nothing and expect it all religion. John just wasn’t that awake to say this in his songs.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      What evidence do you have that would be accepted in a court of law?

      • Anonymous

        What court of law has jurisdiction over such nonsense?

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          Our Supreme Court did make a ruling about ceremonial deism in America a while back.  Perhaps we could argue standing from that.

          • Anonymous

            The ruling didn’t decide on the truth of the religious claim though did it? 

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            Nope.  It said words to the effect of, so long as it means nothing, you can use all the religion you want.

    • Zero

      You should try to separate reality from imagination.  There is nothing testable or observable that there is a God; all you can do is flip a coin.  And as far as wishful thinking goes, believing in an afterlife takes the cake.  

  • Somalia

    Jesus of Nazareth was a commie.

    • F_U_Somalia

      You’re a real idiot.

  • Somalia

    When the Nazarene (J.C. not Lennon) returns, he won’t get past I.C.E. (immigration customs and enforcement) at the terminal in J.F.K. airport.

  • Somalia

    Deport his ass back to Palestine.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Would he have the right of return as a Jew?

      • Somalia

        Of Course! He’s Jesus! for Christ’s sake!

        Unfortunately , he’ll probably get “taken out” with a drone,,, assasination,,, which brings us back to Lennon.

  • Somalia

    A Palestinean Socialist, the U.S.’s worst nightmare…wait?…Huh???

  • Brett

    I enjoyed the show; Tim Riley knows his subject well, and the book seems well researched (his take on McCartney’s influence on Lennon evidenced in the song, “Imagine,” for example, was spot on). He seemed respectful of the man, and a genuine music lover and historian.  There didn’t seem to be anything new or revealed that hasn’t already been throughly documented, though. I agree with Mr. Riley about Yoko; I think she has been a good steward of Lennon’s legacy. 

    …I liked the “Submarines of Stockholm” song; it had some sounds and rhythms that are reminiscent of the British music just at the end of the Mod period and just before the Psychedelic period. 

  • Lilya Lopekha

    If John Lennon were alive, he would most definitely be an activitist for a New and Independent Investigation for the Evetns of 9/11.  at a cost of 14.2 cents per taxpayer.

    He would also ask for Jail Sentence for Richard Armitrage and Two Prominent Congresmen from New York for interfering with and stopping  FBI’s investigation and releasing/deporting Suspects (caught with loads evidence) on November 2001.

    Don’t believe me + Lennon …. Look it up.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      I’d have figured that you’d argue that Lennon was alive and well and living with Elvis in a bunker under the Grassy Knoll.

      • F_U_ Greg Camp

        Who gave you permission to climb out of your troll cage?

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

          The natural rights of man, as listed by James Madison.

        • Anonymous

          The right to free speech does give one a lot of latitude in regards to how far one can be an incontinent bore. I see that you sir have taken such liberties to the extreme.

          • Lilya Lopekha

            Jeffe68 and Greg Camp never miss an opportunity to defend a country that is an absolute parasite to USA and pulling us down.

            On August 25th they repeatedly questioned the authenticity of the FBI Papers (Israeli involvement on 9/11 – caught red handed, with evidence upon evidence) – that crappy claims of the authenticity is history.  Got my own big yellow envelope with 138 pages of crisp FBI papers.  All it takes a darn 44 cents.

            If you want to see the proof … post something here, I will make my “cover letter” available here … from David Hudson of Dept of Justice.

            The cat is out of the bag …. The Official 9/11 Story is a one big fat lie.

    • Brett

      If it’s an independent investigation, why do I have to spend my tax dollars on this mythical investigation? And, if this so-called “investigation” didn’t draw a conclusion that fits with the narrative you want, you wouldn’t want your tax dollars to go toward it, either! You Truthers are a tenacious bunch, why wouldn’t you guys collect resources from private sources and have your own investigation? Work for that, it seems more productive than blog diving, no?  

  • Brett

    I don’t see Lennon as tortured, I see Lennon as trying really hard to transcend those things which tortured him. 

  • ripped-off tax payer

    John Lennon used Gibson guitars in some of his most famous and greatest songs.

    The very same Gibson guitars (based in Nashville, Tenn. and built exclusively in America), that the criminal Obama administration is purposely trying to run out of business.

    • Brett

      That’s right!! In fact, Obama broke into the Gibson factory himself (while wearing his ninja outfit, of course) and locked up all of their wood stocks. He told them that if they didn’t buy all of their wood from Kenya he would personally run them out of business. I think I heard him say that he hates Lennon’s music and wants to eradicate any instrument capable of making such music…I don’t know, maybe it’s a Muslim, er, Moslem thing? Of course, the lamestream media isn’t going to report this, so, alas, we have to rely on fringe websites for the “real” information…
      But hey, I give you credit for shifting topics to Obama’s failed presidency in one of the more creative ways I’ve seen. 

      • Somalia

        I think Brett wins this round, although Solyndra’s got Obama’s prints all over it.

      • ripped-off tax payer

        And I give you credit for being able to type incoherent babble on a keypad with your head so far up your rear end.

        • Somalia

          a stinging counterpunch, though.  Well placed R.O.T.P.

    • Anonymous

      You know what. When I read comments such as this I only think that there goes one citizen who has not a clue of anything. What the hell does the type of guitar that John Lennon used some 30+ years ago have to do with Gibson breaking the law on endangered wood now.
      The very name you use sums it up. What a load of crap.

  • Somalia

    Lilya!!!  Long time no post!!! How are you???  Did you enjoy the revolution???  Great to read you.  I’ll bet your occupying Wall St right now.  Lennon and Jesus are with you, in spirit of course, those two guys are over yonder are just 2 look-alike hippies who haven’t showered in 17 days ;-)  Anyway, Ciao! 

    P.S.  F*** Wall Street!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

    P.S.S.  Oh Yeah, and reopen and declassify congressional report the 9/11 investigation, definitely foul play with recent revelations of bush saudi collusion,,, that’s saudi not iraqi,,,   

  • Brett

    No mention of Lonnie Donegan…oh, well…

  • Somalia

    Give PEACE a chance you two.

  • Modavations

    On his death bed, Lennon admitted he secretly loved Ronnie Reagan and the Iron Lady.Oh how the worm has turned

    • Somalia

      Despite being waterboarded and then some, Jesus, on the other hand never wavered, a Palestinean Socialist to the end.

      I guess the question is, would President Reagan use C.I.A. backed guerilla’s to wack Jesus or the Marines? Hmmm.

      • Modavations

        I guess you missed the “parable of the Fish”

      • Modavations

        On his death bed, Jesus professed his secret admiration for Ronaldus Magnus and the Iron Lady

        • Somalia

          That is hilarious!  Yes, Yes.  I believe his last words were…

          ” All Ye top 1% income earners, Render unto Ceasar Ronaldus Magnus a.k.a. ‘ Dutch ‘ or the ‘ Gipper ‘ what is Ceasar’s, which is a 70% top bracket on your income taxes. ”

          ” Or By God, In 1,980 yrs (October 5, 2011) I will return to this world and say unto you… as the saying goes… When in Rome…
          OCCUPY WALL STREET MOFO’S!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ”

          And in the next verse of the gospel of John (Lennon that is) the apostles cheered!!!!! Yeahh!!!!!!

          Interestingly enough, I think the Mayans actually predicted this Apocalypse precisely about a thousand years ago.

          • Modavations

            Everyone loved Ronnie.When hearse rolled down the avenue,you’d think the king of the cosmos had died.By the way,I’m not kidding about Lennon’s love for Ronaldus.That’s what 30 years of paying taxes will do to a man.

          • Somalia

            Do you think that’s why Jesus gave up his masonry gig, and decided to sustain himself on room and board? In return for his fiery Socialist Manifesto’s and good and wise company?

    • Somalia

      I’m going to venture a guess that Jesus would have endorsed President Carter in the 1980 campaign.  Thoughts??

  • Somalia

    Tommorrows protests in D.C. and Wall St are gonna be like Paris in 1968!!!!!!!  Labor and the College students UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Modavations

      John Lennon was rich as Croeus and had tons invested in WallSt..I won’t mention the many,palatial estates

  • Ron

    Maybe not to carry on but someone running parallel: prolific, political, powerful ……,

  • Ron

    ….Neil Young

  • Somalia

    ” Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
    We’re finally on our own.

    This summer I hear the drumming,
    4 dead in Ohio ”

    -Neil Young

    I love that verse.  Let’s hope it’s not another Kent State tommorrow.

  • Carrie Jones

    I’m casting my vote for John Stewart as having “a piece” of that Lennon “thing” they are reffering to on the show..( I had to get out of the car so I don’t know who they mentioned)I think Lennon pulled back the curtain to show us the inner workings of our own ridiculousness on a regular basis. 

  • Nonsequitur

    Janis Joplin died 41 years ago this past Tuesday.

  • Chrisanders1974

    I’ve read through all of these comments. I thought the interview was about his influence on modern music. Can we get back to the subject at hand? I pay attention to politics, I listen to the news. I read. I want to talk about music on here.

  • Ishmael

    A lot of this interview sounded like a non-psychologist trying to sound like someone with the insights of a psychologist.  Nothing at all new of substance was presented. 

    John Lennon’s great gift was honesty, in both music and words.  His minimalism, providing essences.

    There are plenty of Lennon mimics, but alas, no artistic heirs.  At least I haven’t heard any yet. 

  • Walker

    Happy Birthday

  • beavextex

    I would suggest Mr. Riley (and others) read “John Lennon: The Life” by Phillip Norman to find answers to a lot of these good questions.  I would also make one correction:  Yoko Ono did not “plant herself” among the Beatles; John planted her there. He was, after all, a “Jealous Guy” (one of his many emotional journeys).  An artistic genius in her own right, Yoko contributed from her wide range of knowledge from musical to artistic to practical, though it is seldom acknowledged and grudgingly accepted (with the prevailing misogyny of the Beatles’ class and the times). It is a disservice to perpetuate the tired myth that Yoko did anything to divide the Beatles, all of whom were ripe for solo careers and separate lives in any case. But thanks for helping point out that her career as a conceptual artist was formative in the rest of Lennon’s life. It was rare indeed in those days (and perhaps now) for a pop star to marry someone of – and for – her intellectual caliber.     

  • Pingback: Appearances Fall 2011 « Tim Riley, Music Critic

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  • W540926747010

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  • Pingback: ‘Imagine’: Why John Lennon’s Most Enduring Song Is Actually His Worst | Cognoscenti

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