Skip to comments.Born on this day, 1940: John "Give Peace a Chance" Lennon
Posted on 10/09/2009 8:42:31 AM PDT by ETL
From today's New York Times...
The Beatles united a generation of young people with their songs, their attitudes and their sense of style, and John Lennon was the thinking man's Beatle. Of the four, he was the Beatle who wrote books, the Beatle who embroiled the group in a potentially disastrous controversy by suggesting in an interview that they were more popular than Jesus, the Beatle who embraced the poetic innovations of Bob Dylan in the mid-1960's and shocked Beatles fans by jumping into performance art, happenings and political protests in the late 60's and early 70's. ..."
"John Lennon, (October 9, 1940 December 8, 1980) was an English rock musician, singer-songwriter, author, and peace activist who gained worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles."-wikipedia
Lennon rehearsing "Give Peace a Chance"
in Montreal, Quebec in 1969.
TA (interviewer): In a way you were even thinking about politics when you seemed to be knocking revolution?
JL (Lennon): Ah, sure, 'Revolution' . There were two versions of that song but the underground left only picked up on the one that said 'count me out'. The original version which ends up on the LP said 'count me in' too; I put in both because I wasn't sure. There was a third version that was just abstract, musique concrete, kind of loops and that, people screaming. I thought I was painting in sound a picture of revolution--but I made a mistake, you know. The mistake was that it was anti-revolution.
On the version released as a single I said 'when you talk about destruction you can count me out'. I didn't want to get killed. I didn't really know that much about the Maoists, but I just knew that they seemed to be so few and yet they painted themselves green and stood in front of the police waiting to get picked off. I just thought it was unsubtle, you know. I thought the original Communist revolutionaries coordinated themselves a bit better and didn't go around shouting about it. That was how I felt--I was really asking a question. As someone from the working class I was always interested in Russia and China and everything that related to the working class, even though I was playing the capitalist game.
Lennon was NWPM-—nothing without Paul McCartney.
“Nothing without Paul. . . . .”
True both ways. They needed each other, like sodium and chlorine aren’t salt without each other. Even while the group was still together, they were both terrible as soon as they stopped collaborating.
Women beater, pretty much a pr!ck wrote some good songs.
“Giving Peace a Chance” is great but some how we have lost the idea of carrying a “Big Stick”. Remember the saying “I don’t care if they hate me, as long as they fear me.”? If this isn’t true, why do we have the most powerful Military in history? The problem today is that we have a government that wants to talk nice to our enemys, instead of standing up our Military and say “Don’t mess with us or we will come at you like a sleeping giant.” This last statement is what keeps others aware that we can be their friends, but on our terms. We have lost that somehow.
Mark Chapman tried out his piece on Lenin.
I agree that their diametric sensibilities made for great chemistry as a band. But Paul clearly didn't need John as much as the other way around.
Giving peace a chance in the way he meant it is a childish denial of reality, as MDC demonstrated. The world is not a nice place. It’s not that hard to grasp.
The guy was a revolutionary communist. The "peace" stuff was BS. Read the interview I posted.
5 shots at point blank with Yoko standing right there and NOT ONE single shot goes off target by a few inches? SERIOUSLY????
His shooting death was announced by Howard Cosell on Monday Night Football.
Actually the Lennon/McCartney songwriting credit was just a formality, something they never changed.
The vast majority of the Beatles songs were Paul songs, or John songs, not a collaboration in the least.
And George Harrison’s magnificent “All Things Must Pass” is by far the best solo effort in the post-Beatles era.
From what I’ve read, I think they were actually working together on plenty of songs up until the end of 1964 or so.
My understanding is that even up to that point, Paul or John, would bring in a nearly completed song idea for the band to complete, and after that it became a PURELY separate endeavor.
However, none of this is to minimize the various small, but essential tweaks contributed by the band itself during the recording sessions, including Fifth Beatle, producer George Martin.
“All Things Must Pass” is by far the best solo...”
Agreed. George was my favorite - so I am biased.
John was a conniving idealist in small ways who hired conniving people in bigger ways and they enjoy all the press that conniving people enjoy. Some may say he was an emotional exhibitionist who, for all the later talk of peace and love, beat on his wife and ignored his child. But this is to see mean spiritedness where love is more to the point the message to the press. John obviously got mixed up in the wrong crowd, a crowd who was able to lionize and canonize him for shooting his mouth off and writing a song about communism (in an way that doesn’t mention the ugly word) and no religion too. St. John the Baptist was no Jesus freak and the water poured on the heads of heads was filled with mild hallucinogens and other assorted number 9 goodies from the Beatle days. Anything to escape being a cold turkey. Lennon will best be remembered for being famous...
What Howe and Coser wrote in 1957 remains true: Between the progressive sentiments of Popular Front politics, and a certain kind of urban middle-brow cultural yearning, there was a deep rapportmost of all, a common anxiety and pathoswhich the Communists brilliantly exploited. ... Even after the Popular Front lay shattered ... the style of American mass culture retained many of its crucial elements.
Its echoes in music are ubiquitous. We hear them in John Lennons Imagine, a vapid celebration of moral relativism that, like Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, tells us that no cause is really worth fighting for:
Imagine theres no countries,
It isnt hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
No religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace.
We hear the echoes, too, in the music of the man who organized the Artists for John Kerry tour: Bruce Springsteen, who specializes in depicting the desolation of American life in albums such as Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad (a self-conscious reference to Guthrie). The emblematic Springsteen song, Born in the USA, laments the meaningless sacrifice of the Vietnam vet, the ultimate used and abused working-class hero:
Born down in a dead mans town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog thats been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up.
Born in the USA, I was born in the USA
I was born in the USA, born in the USA.
Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man.
Born in the USA. . . .
Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says Son, if it was up to me
Went down to see my V.A. man
He said Son, dont you understand? . . . .
Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
Im ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run aint got nowhere to go.
Born in USA, I was born in the USA. . . .
Juxtaposed with the bleak lyrical narrative of tragedy and indifference, the songs seemingly celebratory chorus becomes a parody of patriotism, implying the foolishness of the benighted blue-collar victim of the system, naive enough to think that its really a good thing to be an Americanor, God forbid, that America might be worth fighting for.
Its tempting to dismiss the politicization of popular music as of limited consequence. But as the Popular Front keenly grasped, culture mattersand music matters perhaps most of all. Allan Bloom, glossing Plato, wrote that to take the spiritual temperature of an individual or society, one must mark the music. In America, popular music provides a soundtrack for growing up. And the lyrics of that music too often deliver the message that our leaders are idiots, that our politics are corrupt, that bourgeois life is purposeless, that this country is no freer than any otherand probably less so. How can we find ourselves surprised, then, by the cool indifference that typifies many kids raised in times of affluence, freedom, and peace? ..."
Whatever the case may be, the Lennon-McCartney synergy was ruined by their fame, IMHO. This group stopped being amazing after about a year of worldwide adulation. For John and Paul, the stress took its toll on their relationship and each started thinking he could do it all, and without as much effort. Hope I don’t sound too harsh.
Agreed. I believe that history shows that the world has been without majors wars for a total of seven years since the beginning of recorded history. I can’t remember where I saw this but it has always stuck in my mind. A good example is to walk through downtown Detroit or Chicago at 2:00AM and see what happens. For some reason, people can’t grasp the idea that they can’t talk their way out of conflict without that “Big Stick”.
Great line. I actually would prefer to be a marmot or a badger. I'm an isolationist at heart. I don't celebrate superpower status or neocon foreign policy, but I realize that's a lost cause argument. I support a strong defense, and a healthy understanding of the world we live in.
Glad someone here gets it. :)
The Beatles story is such an interesting tale, because they were so tightly entwined with the cultural and societal changes (mostly for the worse) that occurred throughout the 1960’s.
I have always preferred the scintillating, innocent pop heaven of their early and middle period, to their more “sophisticated” and cynical later-period songs.
Yeah, and the drugs didn’t exactly help.
Despite their misguided politics, I’m still a fan of much of their music, particularly the earlier tunes. However, I would never consider Lennon above an average song writer. Although clean, wholesome and good, the lyrics for the early songs were simplistic. The 70s stuff only made sense if you were high on drugs: “We all live in a yellow submarine”? :)
My favorite book on the Beatles, “Tell Me Why”, is an in-depth analysis, concerning exclusively the specific musical devices the group employed in their music. Some of the simplest varaitions from the “normal” yielded a entirely different sound.
Fascinating stuff, and I can barely play a note. If I were a musician, looking for ideas and inspiration, I would consume the text of that book voraciously.
Same here, as I'm sure with most everyone else. I just thought he's received way too much credit for his so-called 'genius' in lyrics writing.
“PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA...”
Oh, I thought he said, “Give Pizza Chants.”
Re: Tell Me Why
One of my all-time favorite Beatles songs, btw.
Great songwriter, shitty human being.
I still love the Beatles, but watching this interview with Julian is heartbreaking:
Happiness is a warm, yes it is, gun. bang bang shoot shoot
What is it gonna take for a beatles reunion?
....3 more bullets
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