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John Lennon

John Lennon - The Misunderstood Beatle

by Earl Erickson

While watching Monday night football, on an uneventful evening on December 8, 1980, I was nursing a hangover, when I heard Howard Cosell interrupt the game with a news flash. John Lennon was shot in New York City? Could that be true? It was true. Later, he was pronounced dead. I was in shock. Then my brother, Mark, telephoned me with the news. We both were John Lennon fans.

The Beatles, the fab four of the 60s, were each given character descriptions or nicknames adopted by their fans. John was the smart one, Paul was the cute one, George was the mysterious one and Ringo was the funny one.

I always felt John Lennon's character description or nickname, should have been dubbed the "misunderstood Beatle," because he seemed to always stir up controversy concerning his beliefs. He couldn't quite make his comments clear, and the media didn't help.

Take for instance, the comment he made on March 4, 1966, when he said, "the Beatles are more popular than Jesus." What he meant was that more people would go see the Beatles, than go to church on Sunday. Which may have been true. He generalized a wee bit by laying the blame on America, when he meant England.

Lennon was interviewed for the London Evening Standard by Maureen Cleave, who was a friend, and made an off-the-cuff remark regarding religion. Lennon said, "Christianity, will go. It will vanish and shrink. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first-- rock and roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me."

On August 11, 1966, The Beatles held a press conference in Chicago, in order to address the growing furor.

Lennon: I suppose if I had said television was more popular than Jesus, I would have got away with it, but I just happened to be talking to a journalist friend (Maureen Cleave), and I used the word "Beatles" as a remote thing, not as what I think--as Beatles, as those other Beatles, like other people see us. I just said they are having more influence on kids and things than anything else, including Jesus. But I said it in that way, which is the wrong way."

Reporter: Some teenagers have repeated your statements--"I like The Beatles more than Jesus Christ." What do you think about that?

Lennon: Well, originally I pointed out that fact in reference to England. that we meant more to kids than Jesus did, or religion at that time. I wasn't knocking it or putting it down. I was just saying it as a fact, and it's true more for England than here. I'm not saying that we're better or greater, or comparing us with Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing, or whatever it is. I just said what I said and it was wrong. Or it was taken wrong. And now it's all this.

Reporter: But are you prepared to apologize?

Lennon: I wasn't saying whatever they're saying I was saying. I'm sorry I said it really. I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing. I apologize if that will make you happy. I still don't know quite what I've done. I've tried to tell you what I did do, but if you want me to apologize, if that will make you happy, then OK, I'm sorry.

John Lennon returned to the subject later that year, when he told Look magazine that, "I believe Jesus was right, Buddha was right, and all of those people like that are right. They're all saying the same thing--and I believe it. I believe what Jesus actually said--the basic things he laid down about love and goodness--and not what people say he said. If Jesus being more popular means more control, I don't want that. I'd sooner they'd all follow us even if it's just to dance and sing for the rest of their lives. If they took more interest in what Jesus--or any of them--said, if they did that, we'd all be there with them.

Although there was little reaction to his statement in England, Christians elsewhere embarked upon a massive campaign to destroy Beatle albums and other paraphernalia. The Archbishop of Boston admitted that he was probably right, but many still refused to forgive him.

I can relate to his controversial statement, because I have made similar statements, such as, when I drive by a gambling casino on a Sunday, I'll say--"look at all those cars--try to pack them in a church parking lot." Of course, my meaning was that gambling is more popular than Jesus. I hope that isn't the truth--here in America. Am I in trouble for saying that?

All this didn't bother Lennon, he continued using religious remarks in his songs, one was God, released in 1971. The lyrics are as follows:

God
(words and music by John Lennon)

God is a concept
By which we measure
Our pain
I'll say it again
God is a concept
By which we measure
Our Pain

I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I-ching
I don't believe in bible
I don't believe in tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
I don't believe in Kennedy
I don't believe in Buddha
I don't believe in mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in yoga
I don't believe in kings
I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles
I just believe in me
Yoko and me
And that's reality
The dream is over
What can I say?
The dream is over
Yesterday
I was a dream weaver
But now I'm reborn
I was the walrus
But now I'm John
And so dear friends
You just have to carry on
The dream is over

THE END

Once again, Lennon was misunderstood. He was put off by many Christians. I always understood the style of Lennon. I felt he was reaching out to question things we dared not ask. He was a buffer between reality and make believe. Some considered it threatening. I considered it harmless. Although he did say "I don't believe in Jesus." And he did say, "I don't believe in bible." Maybe he should have left them out of the song, at least to avoid controversy and save his career.. But, Lennon was Lennon, and he didn't care. He was saying he has the freedom to say what he wants to say, or sing what he wants to sing. I'm sure it hurt his career. Paul McCartney's career only blossomed. Not intending to leave out George and Ringo. Their careers remained stable.

I always thought a more fitting song for John Lennon would have been--Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, written and performed by a fellow musician and friend, Eric Burdon. He, also, authored a book under the same title.

In 1973, Lennon wrote and sang the song, Imagine, a very critical-- but popular song. It questioned the existence of heaven and hell and no religion, too. This, too, was angered by Christians. His message was clear to me. He was simply stating, if there wasn't any of these things he's imagining, the world would live in peace--as one. What would there be to fight about? There would be no wars. Many wars are about religion. The song is all about imagination. He's not a terrorist wanting to blow up the world. The lyrics are as follows:

Imagine
(words and music by John Lennon)

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
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 be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
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

THE END

Lennon was always the outspoken one. Some say he was a hypocrite when he preached about love and peace--not war. In 1969, he demonstrated his beliefs in his penned song, Give Peace A Chance, after his departure from The Beatles, during his solo career.

He defended many rights and causes. He was an anti-war activist. His beliefs were misconstrued and often he was taken as a socialist or communist. President Nixon wanted him deported. Lennon stood up and fought for his right to stay where he loved to be -- in New York City, U.S.A. Sadly enough, it was also the place he was killed by a deranged fan.

During his solo career, Lennon wrote and sang songs of rebellion with his political views. He would socialize with antiwar leaders, such as, Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, and others. Lennon and his friends organized a concert in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in December of 1971, dubbed the "Free John Sinclair" concert. Sinclair was a local antiwar activist who was serving ten years in the state prison for selling two joints of marijuana to an undercover cop. Lennon appeared onstage along with Phil Ochs, Stevie Wonder and other musicians, plus antiwar radical Jerry Rubin and Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers. There was 20,000 in attendance; two days after the concert, the state of Michigan released John Sinclair from prison. During this time, a song written and sung by Lennon was released, entitled John Sinclair.

In 1972, Lennon released an anti-sexism song, entitled, Woman Is The Nigger of the World, implying that as black people were discriminated against in some countries, so were women globally. The lyrics are as follows:

Woman Is The Nigger of the World
(words and music by John Lennon)

Woman is the nigger of the world
Yes she is...think about it
Woman is the nigger of the world
Think about it...do something about it

We make her paint her face and dance
If she won't be a slave, we say that she don't love us
If she's real, we say she's trying to be a man
While putting her down, we pretend that she's above us
Woman is the nigger of the world...yes she is
If you don't believe me, take a look at the one you're with
Woman is the slave of the slaves
Ah, yeah...better scream about it
We make her bear and raise our children
And then we leave her flat for being a fat old mother hen
We tell her home is the only place she should be
Then we complain that she's too unworldly to be our friend
Woman is the nigger of the world...yes she is
If you don't believe me, take a look at the one you're with
Woman is the slave to the slaves
Yeah...alright...hit it!
We insult her every day on TV
And wonder why she has no guts or confidence
When she's young we kill her will to be free
While telling her not to be so smart we put her down for being so dumb
Woman is the nigger of the world
Yes she is...if you don't believe me, take a look at the one you're with
Woman is the slave to the slaves
Yes she is...if you don't believe me, you better scream about it
We make her paint her face and dance
We make her paint her face and dance
We make her paint her face and dance
We make her paint her face and dance
We make her paint her face and dance
We make her paint her face and dance

THE END

On a happier note, in 1971, Lennon, also, wrote and sang the song, entitled, Happy Xmas. This became a holiday favorite. It's questionable why he left out Christ in Christmas. But "X" is the Greek symbol of Christ.

This year marks the 26th anniversary of the death of John Lennon. His killer is still imprisoned, as he should be. The music world was robbed of this musical genius. I sure miss his works and imagination. If it weren't for his outspoken beliefs, he may have still been with us today. It may have been what killed him. But just imagine (I wonder if you can)--then there never would have been a John Lennon.


About the Author - Earl D. Erickson


Earl D. Erickson, is an internet author. He writes exactly how he feels--coming from the heart. His stories can be read by going directly to his websites and logging onto the Ezine Articles or by going to Ezine Articles and log onto his name under expert authors. He is currently writing a book about his life struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction, suicide, grief and depression. The book is entitled, Blurred Vision: Diary of an Incorrigible Alcoholic. He hopes to finish that project early next year. Mr. Erickson loves to listen to music and explore its history, read, photograph, watching old movies and television classics, gardening and the great outdoors. He owns and manages his website at: http://ComfortAndLoss.com Mr. Erickson is a native and lifelong resident of Tacoma, Washington.

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