Imagine


John Lennon was killed thirty years ago today by Mark Chapman.
Lennon is one of my musical heroes. An icon. A voice of the political left. Not an academic, or an economist. Not involved in the bullshit of party politics. He simply expressed a sentiment shared by a large number of those of us on the Left, and he amplified it, because he had the means by which to do so. Musically, a true artist.

“Our society is driven by neurotic speed and force, accelerated by greed and the frustration of not being able to live up to the image of men and women we have created for ourselves – an image that has nothing to do with the reality of people.

“We’re one world, one people, whether we like it or not. We can pretend we’re divided into races and Countries, but the reality is that it is one World and it is one people”

There is no artist today who could manage to have their song sung in unison by thousands of people marching on Washington DC. Especially one from a little house in Liverpool.

Whatever you think of John Lennon’s music, it is necessary to say that he had a profound influence on music, and on the political left within the music industry. And The Beatles, along with The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and The Who defined London in the 1960s. They made Abbey Road; a long, uninteresting road just north of St John’s Wood Tube Station, a cultural landmark. They massively influenced artists and bands popping up fifty years later. And Lennon outshone the other Beatles when they finally split. Even so far as the fact that the FBI kept tabs on him and President Nixon tried to have him deported because the White House believed Lennon might be a threat to the President’s re-election.

In order to help save John from being deported, Bob Dylan wrote a letter to the Immigration and Neutralisation Service, with:

John and Yoko add a great voice and drive to the country’s so-called art institution. They inspire and transcend and stimulate and by doing so, only help others to see pure light and in doing that, put an end to this dull taste of petty commercialism which is being passed off as Artist Art by the overpowering mass media. Hurray for John and Yoko. Let them stay and live here and breathe. The country’s got plenty of room and space. Let John and Yoko stay!

Our artists today, are a little too worried with upsetting their record label.

Imagine no religion.
Imagine no countries.
Imagine no greed or hunger.
Imagine no possessions.

One of a kind.
John Lennon
1940-1980

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11 Responses to Imagine

  1. Black Flag says:

    Futile,

    I strongly disagree with your label:
    A voice of the political left

    He was not leftist. He disavowed all government. He advocated personal responsibility.

  2. The line “imagine no possessions” puts him firmly on the Left.

  3. Black Flag says:

    Futile,

    It’s a line in a song – hardly a basis to claim “leftist”

  4. It does if it the lyrics were of a personal nature. I can’t imagine he wrote it for the sake of it.

  5. Black Flag says:

    Then Lennon was a capitalist.

    Money (that’s what I want) – John Lennon

    The best things in life are free
    But you can keep ’em for the birds and bees
    Now give me money (that’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (that’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (that’s what I want), yeah
    That’s what I want

    Your lovin’ gives me a thrill
    But your lovin’ don’t pay my bills
    Now give me money (that’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (that’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (that’s what I want), yeah
    That’s what I want

    Money don’t get everything, it’s true
    What it don’t get, I can’t use
    Now give me money (that’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (that’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (that’s what I want), yeah
    That’s what I want

    Money don’t get everything, it’s true
    What it don’t get, I can’t use
    Now give me money (that’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (that’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (that’s what I want), yeah
    That’s what I want

    Well, now give me money (that’s what I want)
    A lot of money (that’s what I want)
    Whoa, yeah, I wanna be free (that’s what I want)
    Whoa, a lot of money (that’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (that’s what I want), yeah
    That’s what I want

    Well, now give me money (that’s what I want)
    A lot of money (that’s what I want)
    Whoa, yeah, you owe me money (that’s what I want)
    Oh, now give me money (that’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (that’s what I want), yeah
    That’s what I want.

  6. Well no, because that isn’t his song. It’s a cover.
    When one writes a song like Imagine, one isn’t doing so for the sake of it. It has a message in it.

  7. Black Flag says:

    We don’t care what flag you’re waving
    We don’t even want to know your name
    We don’t care where you’re from or where you’re going
    All we know is that you came
    You’re making all our decisions
    We have just one request of you
    That while you’re thinking things over
    Here’s something you just better do

    Free the people now
    Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now
    Free the people now
    Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now

    Well we were caught with our hands in the air
    Don’t despair paranoia is everywhere
    We can shake it with love when we’re scared
    So let’s shout it aloud like a prayer

    Free the people now
    Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now
    Free the people now
    Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now

    We understand your paranoia
    But we don’t want to play your game
    You think you’re cool and know what you are doing
    666 is your name
    So while you’re jerking off each other
    You better bear this thought in mind
    Your time is up you better know it
    But maybe you don’t read the signs

    Free the people now
    Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now
    Free the people now
    Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now

    Well you were caught with your hands in the kill
    And you still got to swallow your pill
    As you slip and you slide down the hill
    On the blood of the people you killed

    Stop the killing (Free the people now)
    Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now
    Stop the killing (Free the people now)
    Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it now

  8. Sounds a little Communist to me 🙂

  9. Lennon in a Playboy interview, 1980:

    “In England, there are only two things to be, basically: You are either for the labor movement or for the capitalist movement. Either you become a right-wing Archie Bunker if you are in the class I am in, or you become an instinctive socialist, which I was.”

  10. Lennon in 1971 interview:

    “Robin Blackburn: Of course, class is something the American rock groups haven’t tackled yet.

    JL: Because they’re all middle class and bourgeois and they don’t want to show it. They’re scared of the workers, actually, because the workers seem mainly right-wing in America, clinging on to their goods. But if these middle class groups realise what’s happening, and what the class system has done, it’s up to them to repatriate the people and to get out of all that bourgeois shit.”

    In fact, this whole interview is a discussion about communist ideals: http://www.counterpunch.org/lennon12082005.html

  11. Black Order says:

    He was an eccentric intelligent talented hippie.

    🙂

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