Wednesday, December 08, 2010

My love/hate relationship with John Lennon

On this date 30 years ago, a deranged fan named Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon four times in the back as he walked with his wife, Yoko Ono, into the couple's Manhattan apartment building.

Even Howard Cosell broke in on "Monday Night Football" to tell the world that the former Beatle was dead.

I've always had something of a love/hate relationship with Lennon. I entered a serious Beatles phase around 1992 but have always been more of an Elvis kind of guy. I have marveled at many of Lennon's compositions (especially "Imagine," one of the best American pop songs of the 20th century), but didn't care for some of his more bizarre personal and political excesses.

What do I know, but I always blamed Yoko for the Beatles' breakup (as if Lennon and the others had nothing to do with it...). I remember I about had a heart attack when I heard Yoko sing a song called "Woman is the Nigger of the World" on national television, even if I sympathized with its feminist POV.

And I was always a Paul McCartney fan. Paul was solely responsible for what I consider to be the Beatles' best lyric, "Yesterday," and he said on the radio once he hated he had to give Lennon co-credit. But, that was their songwriting deal.

Lennon was a musical genius perhaps both fueled by and a victim of the upheavals of the 1960s. But, together with McCartney, and in one shining solo moment, he made great music. And I was always grateful when, at a moment when it was fashionable to bash him, Lennon said of Presley, "Before Elvis, there was nothing."

Like too many others, Lennon died at the hands of a lunatic. "Imagine" a world without that, indeed.

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