I was never a Lennon fan, I was a Beatles fan. There is a big difference.
Lennon's output post-Beatles was patchy to say the least. His public pronouncements and private behaviour did him no favours. He is best remembered as part of the Fab Four.
The Beatles was a social and musical construct. The band was manufactured in the same way they are today. What they had was talent, luck and timing. The talent was latent; George Martin considered and in fact did use session players on early recordings. Martin himself was something of a musical guru long before the Fabs turned to the East for inspiration, someone who could mould and inspire people with a spark of creativity. He used the studio as another instrument, something only Phil Spector had done befor then and even Spector could not add the touch of stardust to Beatles albums. The Beatles genius was a collective one. The chemistry was explosive and produced a burst of creativity and innovation that eclipsed anything around at the time. The albums still stand as sublime pieces of work. They were lucky, in the right place at the right time. Everything was right; the look, the four different characters, the raw sexuality, the emerging cult of youth and a backdrop of utter musical dreck that showed them up in the best light. Britain was changing when the Beatles came along and they stand in symbolic relation to that change. What made the Beatles different was the songwriting of Lennon and McCartney. It was lyrically and musically timeless and so very British and artistically as erudite as any popular work before or since. It was not Mozart or Beethoven, but it was poetically and melodically as satisfying as any contemporary work could be.
The Beatles were born to be in the Sixties. They have never been eclipsed. Nobody got near them. As for John Lennon, his death meant one important thing to the fans. There would never be a Beatles re-union. Perhaps in that context, it was just as well.
And in the end, listen to the music. That is Lennon's legacy.
Posted by Wrinkled Weasel on Thursday, December 09, 2010