Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


John Lennon, who along with Paul McCartney formed one of the most influential songwriting partnerships of the twentieth century, was murdered thirty years ago today. He was the first of the Beatles to die.

Lennon, like so many Creative Types, was a deeply flawed human being. His naive, hyperidealistic political views and his abusive treatment of his first wife Cynthia (as self-described in the song “Getting Better”) are just two reasons to dislike him as a person...

...and yet it is impossible for me to dislike the man who wrote the soundtrack for several of my adolescent years. The Beatles’ music - and by extension, Lennon’s music - was the bridge between childhood and adulthood for me and many others of my generational cohort.

People who came of age after 1970 cannot understand how pervasive - how world-changing - that music was. Nothing since then comes even close. Michael Jackson? Don’t make me laugh.

Some of Lennon’s solo work was excellent, but without McCartney’s moderating influence it could often be discordant and strident. (Likewise, without Lennon’s acidity, McCartney’s solo efforts tended toward fluffy meaninglessness.) Together, they formed a whole that was greater than the sum of its song-crafting parts.

Lennon lived to be a mere forty years old. One can only wonder what that marvelous creative mind might have produced had he lived... and especially had he found a way to reconcile with Paul McCartney, without whom he would always be somehow incomplete. And perhaps that is the Silver Lining of being a celebrity who dies young, legend intact, with future achievements a product of wishful imaginations, physical and creative decline a matter of speculation rather than a harsh reality. One only needs to look at the video of the Who at the Super Bowl earlier this year to see the fate of the Superannuated Celebrity, a fate that Lennon managed to avoid.

Requiescat in pace, John.

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