It is very true that in death, we almost always magnify one’s accomplishments. The death of John Lennon, affected every right-minded person who was of age in 1980. We do forget that there were times when we were not really happy with John. After all, most of us blamed him and his seeming obsession with Yoko for breaking up the Beatles. Most of us thought the bed-ins, the extremely long-hair and long beard were just plain weird. Remember this was the early ’70s. While most of us were against the war, we really didn’t understand what all the rallies were for and what good would they do anyway? Why did he always seemed so angry with everyone? Let’s not forget that ridiculous tumult about the Jesus Christ statement. He was right. It was just a way for the conservatives of the day to try to stick a fork in the Beatles and the perceived threat to the “Leave it to Beaver” way of life in the US and England in the 60’s. People were afraid of him.
With a few exceptions, a lot of the music he was making wasn’t very good. “The Plastic Ono Band”, really.
Then there was that whole heroine addiction era and the seclusion that he went into. If you remember, even though he was still revered, most of us thought he had pretty much gone off the edge.
What we didn’t realize is that in many ways he was the sanest of all of us. Whether we understand it or not, he loved Yoko. Sure there was the Mae Pang diversion and others, but at the bottom of it all, they were truly soul mates. Did we all think John should have been with the 70’s equivalent of a supermodel. Sure. But, he didn’t need that. He was secure in himself to find someone who he wanted to share his life with. Regardless of what everybody else thought.
He was right about the war, right about governments and their agendas. Right about the injustices that people and countries were perpetrating on each other. How did he have the clarity of mind to figure so much of this out before the rest of us?
We don’t often realize the life that the Beatles lived in the 60’s and 70’s. They literally were prisoners of their fame. They couldn’t go anywhere, trust anyone, or literally just stroll down the street. That type of isolation must take its toll on someone. I am amazed, whenever I happen to end up in McCartney’s company for some reason, how amazingly normal he is. So, the fact that John sought to hide out in his apartment and disengage from the music business and most of society, is not hard to understand at all. At the time, many of us thought it was just plain weird.
How many of us would love to disappear for five years. Raise our child and by the way, sit down and write some incredible music. In this case, the time of reflection we have had since his death, has made us realize just how amazing an individual he was.
He is one exception to the rule. All the respect and love he gets now in death, is definitely warranted. If anything, I think we don’t give him enough credit for being a truly great man. A man who did things on his own terms, but he was usually right.
Every December 8th I still get choked up. Not thinking about my lost innocence or the end of my childhood, but lamenting about what the world has missed for the last thirty years.