John Lennon

Yesterday was the 30th Anniversay of the death of John Lennon. His killing was a tawdry third rate end for a musician whose legacy as one of The Beatles will remain for centuries. A few days before he was killed he scornfully rebuked those who wanted dead heroes.
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.


Richard said...

Like you, I was a big Beatles fan. I never took sides in the John vs Paul arguments (that was a bit girly), but understood, even at quite a young age, that it was what they did together that mattered, and that separately they were less.

I liked John in his Hamburg rocker days. He ended it for me with his release of 'Imagine' - surely the most turgid and self-indulgent song of all time. A millionaire writing about 'no possessions' and a wife-beater writing about world peace? That set a standard of celeb hypocrisy that only Geldof and Bono have managed to surpass in the 39 years since it was released.

Dave said...

Getting himself killed was his biggest career move. Ditto Elvis. Ditto Jackson. Ditto Mercury.

What it means to the rest of us that in any poll for the best songs of all time we will have "Imagine", "Thriller" and bloody Bohemiam bloody Rhapsody in the top three.

He was an ex-Beatle.Past it.
Get over it.