The world has seemed to stop today, from New York’s Central Park to Liverpool to Prague to even Google as the world remembers one of the greatest voices not just of music, but also of a generation and of social justice – John Winston Ono Lennon. Today marks what would have been the slain Beatles 70th Birthday.
Lennon who formed the rock band The Quarrymen in 1957, caught the attention of a young Paul McCartney and the both found kindred spirits in one another. Lennon formed the Beatles in 1960 with McCartney, George Harrison, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe in Liverpool. After the passing of Sutcliffe and the firing of Best, in 1962 The Beatles gained Ringo Starr and soon after took over the world. Beatlemania was a phenomenon no one has ever seen and no one will ever see. Unlike the male pop acts of today who get large responses from female listeners, The Beatles and Beatlemania has not been unmatched. It was the idea that men wanted to be them and women wanted them. What as more intriguing was the idea and the fact that it was not just pop music and pop / rock the band was creating; it would become the soundtrack to a generation. After The Beatles stopped touring in 1966 they took up residency recording at London’s Abby Road studio’s to create a sound and style of music sofar ahead of their time that no one has been able to match their wits and legacy. The Beatles cemented themselves as the greatest Rock and Roll band of all time and Lennon cemented himself as one of the greatest singers and writer’s music has ever heard. When the Fab Four broke up in 1970, Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono moved to New York City.
It was in New York that Lennon reinvented himself. He reinvented himself as a musician, a person and as a social activist. From protesting the war in Vietnam to being an advocate for civil rights and equality, he managed to have more people follow him and believe in him than politicians. So much so that President Richard Nixon tried to have him deported and had him on watch by the FBI and CIA. Songs like “Imagine,” “Give Peace a Chance,” “Working Class Hero,” became songs that were embedded into the souls of people world wide, those oppressed and those free. When Mark David Chapman gunned down Lennon on December 8, 1980 outside the Dakota building where he lived, the world stood silent. Everything stopped. Yet, what Chapman tried to achieve that day in shutting down the voice of John Lennon, he failed. Chapman may have taken the man, but he never took his message - his message of love, peace and understanding.
If Lennon were alive today, what would have been? Imagine. Would students be taking their own lives because they are constantly harassed? Would people be hiding because of their sexuality? Would there be a debate over global warming? Would there be another voice in the fight against global poverty? The answers to these can be found in John’s work that still echo the same sentiments that they did when they were first released. I hope that one day politicians, world leaders, religious figures and other who want something more from the people of this world will one day really take a listen to John. The day they do will be the day we will live in the world he dreamt of.
RIP John Lennon 1940-1980