imagine : john lennon
click on the image below, then close your eyes and see.
John Lennon would have turned 65 today. As cliché as posting this song is, I say his message is as relevant today as it was 34 years ago. There's nothing I can say about this man that someone else hasn't already said better, so what I'll do is let Lennon himself speak. Here are excerpts from a very long interview he did in New York with Rolling Stone founder and then-editor-in-chief Jann Wenner on December 8th, 1971, exactly nine years before his death. This comes from the book The Rolling Stone Interviews: 1967-1980. Check out his answer to the last question.
What do you think rock & roll will become in the future?
Whatever we make it. If we want to go bullshitting off into intellectualism with rock & roll, then we are going to get bullshitting rock intellectualism. If we want real rock & roll, it's up to all of us to create it and stop being hyped by the revolutionary image and long hair. We've got to get over that bit. That's what cutting hair is about. Let's own up now and see who's who, who is doing something about what, and who is making music, and who is laying down bullshit. Rock & roll will be whatever we make it.
Why do you think it means so much to people?
Because the best stuff is primitive enough and has no bullshit. It gets through to you; it's beat, go to the jungle and they have the rhythm. It goes throughout the world and it's as simple as that, you get the rhythm going because everybody goes into it. I read that Eldridge Cleaver said that blacks gave the middle-class whites their bodies and put their minds and bodies together. Something like that. It gets through; it got through to me, the only thing to get through to me of all the things that were happening when I was fifteen. Rock & roll then was real; everything else was unreal. The thing about rock & roll, good rock & roll -- whatever good means and all that shit -- is that it's real, and realism gets through to you despite yourself. You recognize something in it which is true, like all true art. Whatever art is, readers. Okay. If it's real, it's simple usually, and if it's simple, it's true. Something like that. more below the image.
Barcelona subway, January 2004
What do you think are your best songs that you have written?
Ever? The one best song?
Have you ever thought of that?
I don't know. If somebody asked me what is my favorite song, is it "Stardust" or something, I can't answer. That kind of decision-making I can't do. I always liked "Walrus", "Strawberry Fields", "Help", "In My Life", those are some favorites.
Because I meant it -- it's real. The lyric is as good now as it was then. It is no different, and it makes me feel secure to know that I was that aware of myself then. It was just me singing "Help", and I meant it. I don't like the recording that much, we did it too fast trying to be commercial. I like "I Want To Hold Your Hand". We wrote that together, it's a beautiful melody...I like "Across the Universe", too. It's one of the best lyrics I've written. In fact, it could be the best. It's good poetry, or whatever you call it, without chewin' it. See, the ones I like are the ones that stand as words, without melody. They don't have to have any melody; like a poem, you can read them.
The ones I like are the ones that stand as words, without melody. They don't have to have any melody; like a poem, you can read them.Would you take it all back?
Being a Beatle?
If I could be a fuckin' fisherman, I would. If I had the capabilities of being something other than I am, I would. It's no fun being an artist. You know what it's like, writing, it's torture. I read about Van Gogh, Beethoven, any of the fuckers. If they had psychiatrists, we wouldn't have had Gauguin’s great pictures. These bastards are just socking us to death; that's about all that we can do, is do it like circus animals.
I resent being an artist, in that respect; I resent performing for fucking idiots who don't know anything. They can't feel. I'm the one that's feeling because I'm the one that is expressing. They live vicariously through me and other artists, and we are the ones...even with the boxers -- when Oscar comes in the ring, they're booing the shit out of him; he only hits Clay once and they're all cheering him. I'd sooner be the audience, really, but I'm not capable of it.
One of the big things is that I wish to be a fisherman. I know it sounds silly -- and I'd sooner be rich than poor, and all the rest of that shit -- but I wish the pain was ignorance or bliss or something. If you don't know, man, then there's no pain; that's how I express it.
What do you think the effect was of the Beatles on the history of Britain?
I don't know about the "history"; the people who are in control and in power, and the class system and the whole bullshit bourgeoisie is exactly the same, except there is a lot of fag middle-class kids with long long hair walking around London in trendy clothes, and Kenneth Tynan is making a fortune out of the word "fuck". Apart from that, nothing happened. We all dressed up, the same bastards are in control, the same people are runnin' everything. It is exactly the same.
We've grown up a little, all of us, there has been a change, and we're all a bit freer and all that, but it's the same game. Shit, they're doing exactly the same thing, selling arms to South Africa, killing blacks on the street; people are living in fucking poverty, with rats crawling over them. It just makes you puke, and I woke up to that, too.
The dream is over. It's just the same, only I'm thirty, and a lot of people have got long hair. That's what it is, man; nothing happened except that we grew up, we did our thing -- just like they were telling us. You kids -- most of the so-called "now generation" are getting a job. We're a minority, you know; people like us always were, but maybe we are a slightly larger minority because of maybe something or other.
And when we got here, you were all walkin' around in fuckin' Bermuda shorts, with Boston crew cuts and stuff on your teeth.
Why do you think the impact of the Beatles was so much bigger in America than it was in England?
The same reason that American stars are much bigger in England: The grass is greener. We were really professional by the time we got to the States; we had learned the whole game. When we arrived here, we knew how to handle the press; the British press were the toughest in the world, and we could handle anything. We were all right.
On the plane over, I was thinking, "Oh, we won't make it," or I said it on a film or something, but that's that side of me. We knew we would wipe you out if we could just get a grip on you. We were new. And when we got here, you were all walkin' around in fuckin' Bermuda shorts, with Boston crew cuts and stuff on your teeth. Now they're telling us, they're all saying, "Beatles are passé, and this is like that, man." The chicks looked like fuckin' 1940 horses. There was no conception of dress or any of that jazz. We just thought, "What an ugly race"; it looked just disgusting. We thought how hip we were, but, of course, we weren't. It was just the five of us, us and the Stones were really the hip ones; the rest of England were just the same as they ever were.
You tend to get nationalistic, and we would really laugh at America, except for its music. It was the black music we dug, and over here even the blacks were laughing at people like Chuck Berry and the blues singers; the blacks thought it was wasn't sharp to dig the really funky music, and the whites only listened to Jan and Dean and all that. We felt that we had the message which was, "Listen to the music." It was the same in Liverpool; listening to Ritchie Barret and Barrett Strong, and all those old-time records. Nobody was listening to them except Eric Burdon in Newcastle and Mick Jagger in London. It was that lonely, it was fantastic. When we came over here and it was the same -- nobody was listening to rock & roll or to black music in America -- we felt as though we were coming to the land of its origin, but nobody wanted to know about it.