Today marks what would have been the 72nd birthday of the late John Lennon, musician, songwriter, iconoclast, humanitarian, tireless champion of trying and raising awareness to find harmony and peace on the planet and immortal icon for millions upon millions of loyal, almost rabid fans.
There are so many different facets and parts of the life of John Lennon that he spanned and transcended in a way labels, even though there have many that have been and continue to be affixed on the man, like Beatle, Activist, Artist, Champion For Peace, Radical, the list is endless. There’s an ironclad, almost suffocating reverence for John Lennon, in many ways beyond the passions given to other late artistic icons of his generation, like Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison to name a few. Many of his fans refuse to let any flaws that were in Lennon’s life usurp any feelings they have for the man and his ideals and work. Lennon was one of those rare once-in-a-lifetime individuals who not only was able to manifest his music, art, thoughts, and visions in a manner that constantly was on peak level for the most part, but was also in many ways a true renaissance man of the word, who parlayed his dazzlingly and brightly blinding success with The Beatles into a true personal empire of sights and sounds, becoming as the cliché goes, but rightly exclaimed here, “A Voice of a Generation.”
Lennon had sparkling wit of the Groucho Marx camp, and was very cheeky and gregariously charming in many interviews during The Beatles’ formative years. He sported a sharp mind which sometimes seemed to act as a safety net to when things could get hot with his outspokenness; one of the earliest instances was when he proclaimed that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus. While it arguably may have been true, it was one of the perfect examples of how the words of John Lennon could change people, open their eyes, bring them to terms with themselves. A lot of the words of Lennon, be it in his lyrics for so many of his memorable songs — “In My Life,” “Help,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Across the Universe,” “Strawberry Fields,” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” and so many more with The Beatles, and solo and collaborative recordings such as “Instant Karma,” “God,” “Imagine,” “Whatever Gets You Through The Night,” “Watching the Wheels,” and “Starting Over,” among others — or the writings in the whimsical and sarcastically cutting-edge books he penned early in his Beatles career (In His Own Write and Spaniard in the Works), or the many, many printed words for scores and scores of interviews done from when he started in the early 1960s right up till his untimely death via senseless assassination in 1980, reflect some of John Lennon himself and it provided a window into the man’s inner psyche, physical, and beyond, and it became a large part of his appeal.
John Lennon came blazing onto the artistic and musical landscape like a comet and he seemed to leave like a comet in the same manner and just as rapid. We will never know what could have been done with the man’s great talent and razor-sharp vision on the physical and the soul of life, had he lived. But what we do have and know is the remembrance of a man who not only had a lot to do with our ideals and attitudes then, but today as well. The message of John Lennon, in his music, in his way, his thinking, still acts as a stepping stone to those looking for liberation, be it for self or in a communal sense and a common one of hope and peace, two words that sound cliché on the outright, but could never ultimately sound as anything but sincere when filtered through the amazing verve and soul tenacity of John Lennon.