Today is the 70th anniversary…

…of the birth of John Lennon.

John Lennon, 1974. Photo by Bob Gruen.

9 October 2010

Ann Althouse writes:

There’s a nice tribute to Lennon in today’s Google logo. An animated line drawing, with exactly what you’d expect in the audio track. Must it always be “Imagine”?

Scott at Power Line offers a tribute:

Whatever the deficiencies of John Lennon’s politics, he made up for them in his music. There his cynicism alternated with his idealism and his idealism leavened his cynicism. And the team of Lennon/McCartney — as singers, songwriters, and instinctive harmonists — was of course the organic entity at the heart of the Beatles…

…The Beatles quit performing live in 1966 but for one brief performance in January 1969. They went up to the rooftop of the Apple Building at 3 Savile Row to put on a concert that would provide a conclusion to the film “Let It Be.”…

Scott included this video of “Don’t Let Me Down.” When the police turned up to close the show down, Lennon thanked the crowd that had assembled to hear them: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.”

* * *

In the video below, from the conclusion of  Let it Be, Lennon would have been 28 years old. This film marked the end of The Beatles not just a group but a phenomenon, as anyone who was listening to music back then can tell you. Stef and I were teenagers when we sat in the balcony of the Majestic Theatre, a seedy but gorgeous place that had long ago seen better days, to watch the afternoon matinee. She gave me her copy of the album, which I still possess, when her family moved across the country a few months later.

1969 was the Viet Nam war and 18 year old men being drafted, of the shocking brutality of the Manson Family murders, of an American being the first man to walk on the Moon; a year when the “fundamental transformation” of so much of American life was already well underway, though people did not necessarily realize it. A generation was influenced by the brilliant Lennon’s political views. Too many of them still haven’t discovered, though, that times have changed and that those youthful beliefs, now flawed and twisted, are no longer viable or sustainable. Even Lennon, in the last interviews he gave before his murder at the end of 1980, admitted as much.

For now, though, let’s celebrate the music and the end of that phenomenon.

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