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Sunday, October 10, 2010

On The 70th Anniversary Of A Beatle's Birth

Yesterday would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday.

70th. Hard to believe, isn't it.

The Beatles were together only a short time and Lennon churned out a mere handful of solo efforts, but he and his band mates left an indelible mark on the music scene. I'm always amazed by the lasting impact of those four mop-topped lads from Liverpool.

Being a pre-teen during their hey day, my musical tastes leaned toward the lighter, pop fare of Paul McCartney. It was only with the passing of time and life experience did I come to appreciate and prefer the collective works of John Lennon. His wit, pain, and longing for a better world have stayed with me throughout the years.

The messages in his solo works like Whatever Gets You Thru The NightGive Peace a Chance and especially Imagine are still relevant today. Whenever I see people doing questionable things, I find myself singing Lennon's Instant Karma!. It's gonna get you...

In addition to being a legendary lyricist, Lennon was also a terrific humorist. His collection of absurd short stories, "In His Own Write" kept my college roommates and I in tears many a night...with or without the help of Mary Jane.

Lennon struggled with his own personal demons for much of his life. It wasn't until Sean was born and he took on the role of primary care giver did he flourish and step into the lightness of being. Finally, at age 40 he had stared his demons down and came through more centered than he had been his entire life. He even put to rest his long standing conflict with Paul. He seemed full of hope. The promise of this new upward direction in both his life and music was echoed in his most positive work, Double Fantasy.

And then he was gone.

I remember so vividly the day he was shot. An incredibly sad day. Yet I find his death very poetic, romantic even. He spent so much of his adult life in inner turmoil. It had taken him almost 40 years, but he was finally at peace with his past and happy for the first time in his life.

When you think about it, isn't that the best way to leave this mortal coil... when you're content and fulfilled instead of angry and bitter.

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