April 19, 2005

Imagine no SUVs... I wonder if you can...

Florida will be offering a specialty license plate with a picture John Lennon and the word "Imagine" to go along with the other special license plates like "Save the Manatee."

UPDATE: Go inside for the comments, where Doc Weasel throws down the gauntlet re Lennon. Sample: "Lennon flamed out around '65, his enduring fame is mainly because the liberals adopt any pop radical and make them a demi-god, Che, Rachel Corrie, Mumia, what have you."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Interestingly, no one went in to defend John Lennon! I wonder what that means. Who knows what more John might have done without Yoko or what portion of Paul's good and badness was a reaction to John? There was a mystical entity that was The Beatles. The amazing thing is that it came into being and existed at all, and I'm not inclined to blame any of the parts for not having been more than they were. They became The Beatles, and we'll never be able to understand how. You can pick your favorite Beatle and your favorite Beatle album and argue all you want about the way you rank these things, but the fact it, it was all so very good, and it was sad when it ended. More specifically, about John, I've always loved The White Album, and "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," in particular. Much more than the other Beatles (and even before he was killed), there was something about him that allowed people to project their own ideas and aspirations onto him. He, himself, was enigmatic. It was never even clear in "Revolution" whether he was for it or against it. That's something I like about him. I don't really think he was very political, except in an arty, emotive way. I don't really like to think of him in some endless face off against Paul. They were both great, and they were both greatest when they were able to connect with the other, and thank God they did for a few years.

6 comments:

David Manus said...

I've been an enormous Beatle's fan since I was a kid, immersed in all their lore and trivia. The deification of Lennon has always irked me. His political adventures were pretty scattered and idiotic if you check into them, and smack of self-promotion even as he protested he was weary of all the Beatle fame. As a talent, and as a driving force behind the Beatles, Lennon ceased to be a factor after about Sgt. Pepper's, and didn't really have a memorable or huge hit song after that. Everything he did on "Let It Be" is throwaway crap, he worked on Abbey Road almost under protest, forcing McCartney and producer George Martin to cobble together song snippets of Lennon's to make the medley (a great piece of work, but a studio confection and Lennon despised it). Finally, Lennon was the one who broke up the Beatles but he was royally irked when Macca brought it to a head and realized the break-up, stealing Lennon's thunder as iconoclast and radical. This led to years of petty and vindictive comments and interviews slamming Paul. Lennon flamed out around '65, his enduring fame is mainly because the liberals adopt any pop radical and make them a demi-god, Che, Rachel Corrie, Mumia, what have you. McCartney is the Beatle who deserves all that credit, for being the driving force behind the Beatle's most creative studio efforts, for consistantly recording and delivering great music, for STILL touring and playing all that great stuff. Lennon was a selfish, self-involved bastard whose legend benefits from the fact no one really investigates some of his loony radical posturings (pardoning Hanratty, the last man executed in Britain, or freeing Angela Davis) and the tragedy of his death.

My review of Paul's Tampa concert here:

http://docweasel.com/members/07/live_mccartney.shtml

Joseph White said...

Personally, I prefer A Perfect Circle's cover of "Imagine". The slow tempo and brooding emotion absolutely fit Lennon's para-communist jingle.

Not Happy said...

DOC: Bollocks. Abbey Road is a poor concept album. It's the least enjoyable of the Beatles' albums along with Sgt. Pepper. Lennon was right to protest it. If the group had just tried to make a decent collection of songs instead of an artsy statement it would have come out much better. Practically everything John did on the white album is better than any of the songs on Abbey Road.

The rest of what you write is a politically motivated rant not worthy of comment.

Not Happy said...

DOC: Bollocks. Abbey Road is a poor concept album. It's the least enjoyable of the Beatles' albums along with Sgt. Pepper. Lennon was right to protest it. If the group had just tried to make a decent collection of songs instead of an artsy statement it would have come out much better. Practically everything John did on the white album is better than any of the songs on Abbey Road.

The rest of what you write is a politically motivated rant not worthy of comment.

Not Happy said...

Pardon the double post. The blogger site is acting up and the first post didn't show up for quite a while.

David Manus said...

Well that's a bold statement my friend, but let's see some backup to those assertations. I don't accept your iconoclastic dismissal of Abbey Road, arguably one of the greatest studio acomplishments of all time, but let's get down to actual facts.

Let's examine: on Abbey Road, Lennon was guilty of the same "artsy"-ness you accuse Macca/Martin of: how about "Because" or "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" - Lennon was quite hands on re: those songs and did quite a bit of the "artsiness" you find so risible and of which you are so derisive - he just wasn't very good at it and didn't really strike any memorable tunes. Or let's go to Let It Be, notwithstanding Phil Specter's adding strings and schmaltz to a few tunes, its pretty stripped down and non-"artsy"- what did Lennon accomplish there, while Paul was writing "Let It Be", "The Long and Winding Road" not to mention "Hey Jude" and "Lady Madonna" and even great little tunes like "Two of Us" at that same timeframe? Not much. Some hippies dig "Across the Universe" which is an unremarkable little tune most notable for its dated 60's guru references and weak New-Age-y leanings. Lennon pandering to the hippy crowd.

Same with "The Beatles (white album)" - Paul's got classics like "Back in the USSR" "Obladiobladah" "Blackbird" "Rocky Raccoon" "Birthday" and what's Lennon got? Well, I'll give him "Revolution" but legend says he preferred the lame, slow, Beach-Boys rip-off on the White Album and Martin forced release of the vastly superior 'heavy' version on the single. I won't even go into his #9 fiasco.

The facts are that Macca was the driving, and creative force, behind the Beatles after Lennon entered his fat, lazy, married phase which he heralded with his whiny "Help". Paul was the swinging London bachelor, delving into Stockhausen, avant garde art and experimental music while Lennon was holed up in the 'burbs with the Missus and Julian. He only emerged to take on the "protest of the day" once it became fashionable. Further proof is the fact that most Lennon solo albums are pretty unlistenable (Walls and Bridges has some nice stuff though)- have you ever heard the _rest_ of the Imagine album? And let's look at the "great tune" itself- platitudes and hypocritical posturings- I didn't see Lennon giving up all his possessions and entering a kibbutz and dedicating his life to the poor or peace. He just made some vainglorious, grandiose gestures then retreated for 5 years in a heroin fog (the mythical "househusband years") so Yoko could pursue her non-existant career, when she failed she dis-embalmed him and launched the most blatantly exploitative album ever- his tracks alternating with her dreck- (we kids used to defeat this by force-scratching the vinyl making the needled jump her tunes).

This is a pet peeve of mine, the canonization of St. John and the anointing of Lennon as the "real talent" behind the Beatles. I see it as another Ali/Frazier type pop-culture thing where the Left picks its anti-establishment champion (which has not become a red-blue thing) and pumps that person up as if their accomplishments reflect the validity of their insane political adventures. The thing is, the emporer has no clothes: Lennon ain't God.

This is already hugely long, I could go on and on. If you have any interest, I elaborated even more (if that's possible) when
I wrote extensively about the Macca/Lennon battles in an article about the myth of "Lennon the rocker, McCartney the schmaltzy balladeer" occasioned by George's death, here:
Macca vs. Lennon