John Lennon Essay, Research Paper
John Lennon’s music reflected the life he led and the things in which he believed. Now Twenty years after his death, his music still speaks to people with great relevance. John Lennon, a member of the Beatles Was one of the greatest lyricists of all time. Even though he was cut down before his time, his lyrics remain as powerful and reflective today as ever. His enduring lyrics weave threads of his life, to create a beautiful tapestry of songs, which will endure and be sung for generations to come.
Weiner says that John’s death brought an end to whatever was left of the miserable memories of the sixties to a conclusion. He said: “Yet Lennon lives on: not just for his now greying fans, not just for younger kids just discovering The Beatles, but in some unexpected and surprising ways ( Weiner).”
One example of how his music is echoed in today’s society, was evidenced by at the last Republican National Convention in 2000. When Dick Cheney stepped up to the lectern to accept the party’s nomination for Vice President, the band played Lennon’s “Come Together.” In the beginning of the song it say’s “Here Come Ole Flattop” referring to the candidates near baldness. Weiner also mentions that, the Democrats at their convention used the song Imagine as a theme in their tribute to Jimmy Carter. The lyrics to the song Imagine clearly captured the essence of ex President Carters time in the oval office:
“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one”(Imagine)
Understanding Lennon’s music without going back to his beginnings would be impossible. John Lennon grew up in the seaport town of Liverpool, England. John was born to his mother Julia, who seemed to have no sense of her responsibility to her newly born infant. So they sent him off to live with his aunt Mimi. As a small boy, his father, a ship’s steward, with a love for the sea, deserted him(Goldman 21). His first musical influence was Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel.”Goldman stated that: “Heartbreak Hotel” spoke with stunning directness to the boy who saw loneliness. Now he heard loneliness in music as well”(Goldman 62). At a time when a 16-year-old Lennon had started getting to know his mother, a tragic event again changed his life. His mother while crossing the street, was run over and killed by an off duty police officer(Goldman 84). One of the ways the boy dealt with his loss was playing the guitar, that his mom had taught him to play. He later wrote a song about her called Julia and another called “My Mommies Dead.” Many of his songs reflected the pain he felt inside. Ironically the first song Lennon wrote, “Hello Little Girl” was inspired by a 30’s or 40’s song, he had heard his mother sing(Goldman 64).
“From “In My Life” to “All You Need is Love” to “Imagine” John Lennon’s songs documented his life’s haunting uncertainty and struggles, its irony and absurdity, and its brave possibilities ( Rotondi:Obrecht).” Lennon’s gravel throated voice was in tune to our feelings and he had a driving hand with his electric Rickenbacker guitar. Lennon had the talent to transform the pain he felt into beautiful sweet songs. Rotondi stated in his article in Guitar Player Magazine: “Every John Lennon song made a plea, or critically observed, or entertained with the sheer force of images or creative language( Rotondi: Obrecht”)”
John’s music Ideas came from, here, there, and everywhere. His song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” clearly illustrates this. In Lennon’s Playboy interview by David Sheff , Lennon tells the story of how one day his son Julian came home with a picture he had painted. When asked about the painting, Julian said it was his friend Lucy in the sky with diamonds(Sheff). One of his most autobiographical songs, “In My Life” was according to Lennon the first song he wrote about his life intentionally. John said he wrote the song on a bus trip he took one day that brought back many childhood recollections ( Sheff)
John once wrote a song called “Getting Better” He once admitted to a journalist that he sometimes had problems expressing himself and was totally ashamed of the way he had treated women. The lyric “I used to be cruel to my woman. I beat her and kept her apart from the things she loved,” Was typical of the way he treated his first wife, Cynthia. The song continues on to say, “Man I was mean, But I’m changing the scene. I’m doing the best that I can(Garbarini 63).” Lennon was saying he was sorry for his treatment of Cynthia and was trying to make a change in his behavior pattern.
He called another song he wrote from everyday living, “A Day in The Life.” One morning John was sitting at his table reading the morning newspaper and read an article about the heir to the Guinness fortune being killed in an automobile accident. On the next page was another story about how there were 4000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire, that were in the need of repair.
“I read the news today
about a lucky man
who made the grade”( A Day In The Life)
As we take a further look into Lennon’s writing, we find a song called ” Strawberry Fields Forever.” In this song, he sings of a peaceful place from his childhood called Strawberry Fields, where he and his schoolmates would attend garden parties and sell lemonade bottles for a penny each(Sheff). The song paints a strong image of how wonderful going back to those days forever would be. The song then goes on to say “living is easy with eyes closed misunderstanding all you see.” John said that he was saying you can close your eyes to things going on around you, shielding you from the pain and suffering (Sheff). Another line says “No one I think is in my tree,” John is saying that no one can live up to his coolness or farness. The last of Lennon’s Beatles songs I will mention is “Help” John said in the Playboy interview that he wrote the song as a cry for help at a time when he was facing so many changes in his life, as a result of all his many doubts and fears. His exact words were ” I was actually crying out for help”(qtd. In Sheff).
John told us of his life and views on many topics through various songs years after the Beatle’s breakup. One of the first songs he recorded after the Beatles split, He did with his wife Yoko Ono called “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” This song was a chronological account of the struggles the pair encountered planning the wedding and honeymoon. However, this particular song contained a line, “Christ you know it ain’t easy,” which caused the song to be banned in the Bible belt of the Southern part of the United States(Brown, Gaines 323) The lyric also caused many stations to drop it from their play lists(Garbarini, Cullman, Gruestack.
Lennon was never one to shy away from controversial content in his songs lyrics At a bed in event held in Montreal, in which the couple stayed in bed and were interviewed by reporters, a reporter asked Lennon what they were doing holding press conferences from their beds. The first response from John was “All we are saying is give peace a chance( qtd. In Shotten, Shaffner 365).” This was a statement that clearly reflected Lennon’s strong feeling about the Vietnam conflict
One particular song reflecting the true pain in his life was called “Mother” The song begins with the tolling of funeral bells, his voice crying out, like someone who is deranged, First yelling out at his mother and then at his father(Goldman 19) In this part of the lyric he says “Momma don’t go Daddy come home.” In a line from a letter written to a former band mate Stu Sutcliffe, John said: “I can’t remember anything without sadness so deep that it hardly becomes known to me”(qtd in Garbarini 80). The attack on his parents goes on in many other Lennon compositions. In the song “I Found Out,” he sings “they didn’t want me so they made me a star.” John Lennon suffered a lot of pain in his life and managed to reflect it in his music.
John wrote songs that expressed things he and Yoko were experiencing in their own lives. I couldn’t do a paper on Lennon without mentioning his song “Cold Turkey,” a story about the misery one suffers while being addicted to heroin and the painful withdrawal one suffers when trying to kick the habit(Goldman 431). John Lennon himself went through that withdrawal and agony.
The last song Lennon and Yoko released before his untimely murder by a fan, Mark David Chapman, in December 1980 was called “Starting Over.” The song talks about a new beginning for John and Yoko. John was opening a new chapter in the saga of John Winston Lennon. He was starting to recover from things that once plagued him and from the demons of his past. What a shame he never had the chance to live his new life to the fullest.
In conclusion, John Winston Lennon wrote songs which very much reflected his own life and the things he strongly believed. 20 years after his death they are still playing his music and talking about his life. His lyrics will long be remembered by us, his legion of fans, as well as by future generations to come. John Lennon truly left behind a musical legacy that will forever stand the test of time, for many generations to come.