Saturday, December 8, 2007

Memories and the Devil vs. God and John Lennon

I. Hate. Snow.

It's wet, it gets everywhere (like socks, which is no fun) and it's most inconvenient. For example, take today. This morning was looking gray, but relatively pleasant. Then in the space of two hours, there was so much snow that I couldn't see the McKay Events Center outside the Liberal Arts building at Utah Valley University. A co-worker drove me to Barnes and Noble at the risk of her own life, since the car itself seemed horrified of making it up the snow-covered streets. This evening, I was supposed to see a play that I've been looking forward to all week, and the bus was not five, not ten, not fifteen, but almost twenty-five minutes late picking me up due to road hazards. By the time I got to the theater, all the doors were locked. All because of stupid snow.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty ticked off and dejected by the time I got back to my apartment. And when I'm in a foul mood, certain habits and cravings that I've tried to stop cold are bound to surface; needless to say that I found myself struggling with some familiar demons about half an hour later. I tried concentrating on different things - reading, calling a friend, even the words of a Priesthood blessing I received a week ago. All to little avail. At long last, in the tempest of my subconcious, I recalled (for no apparent reason) the words to a song:

"Oh, I'll be a good boy, please make me well
I promise you anything - get me out of this hell
Cold turkey has got me on the run..."

John Lennon's voice coming to aid a poor, struggling soul fighting addictions on a cold and lonely night...and not just any night, but the twenty-seventh anniversary of his assassination. The irony is not lost on me.

I think that John Lennon's greatness, however, is lost on much of my generation. If I were to question someone my age about who imagined a world without heaven, hell, country, religion, and people living life in peace, the odds are they may scratch their head and reply, "Uh, that one guy who starved himself in China? Whatsisname....Guhndee? Gondee? Somethin' or other. Why does it matter, anyway? Hey, have you heard this new song by Avril Lavigne?" (Is the irony lost on you?) Similarly, the only question I could ask and hope to get an enlightened answer to is if I asked who, out of the Beatles, was the walrus. Of course, that would only be with a grateful culture nod to Ferris Buller's Day Off.

Some people my age are quick to snap at me: "Well, why the heck should I care? He's dead, and the Beatles suck, anyway." Responses like that make me scared about my generation's future. Because I think John Lennon's legacy has far more relevance than rescuing recovering addicts on his death's anniversary night.

There are some who believe that solo artists who break off from original bands are ultimately failures, and I'll admit I'm one of those people. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were pretty decent when they were apart, and Thom Yorke is a shrug's "all right" on his own. But I think John Lennon's lyrics and music stands apart far from the Beatles in a good way. His lyrics are very simplistic, to be sure, and sometimes to the point of being cliche; you can almost predict what line will come next.

But in a way, that's what makes John Lennon a genius. His music and lyrics was able to communicate human emotion and thought in very subtle ways, ways that keep the power of the song's spirit and deliver it just as well in a shorter amount of time. It's language meant to touch any and every soul, not just those who can decode cryptic wording, or the philosophically minded. That's why I smile when people say that John Lennon and the Beatles get old after a while. That music was not meant for a casual listen on a playlist. It demands your attention; it wants you. And such selfish music is "so" last century.

In fact, a young man of this century will definitely connect to a young man of three decades ago through John Lennon. Whether it's "Give Peace a Chance" or "I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier, Mama" you can feel the emotions and beliefs of a man iconic to his era. I've heard the 70's labeled as something one would prefer not to remember. I think that it's important to remember the past, no matter what. John's voice has a lot of power in it, and a saturation of ego at times, but there's a lot of humanity as well. Listening to his music becomes a personable tour of a revolutionary epoch in the history of America, and of mankind. And all you need is songs like "God", "Instant Karma!", and the incredible "Imagine" to prove it.

So here's my meager cheer to you, John Lennon. From my post-modern electronics and twenty-first century machinations, I raise a proverbial glass to the walrus. Thanks for your freedom and your incredible sense of humanity, truth, and love. And if I sound simplistic or cliche, or you can predict what I'm gonna say next...then maybe that's the point.

Strawberry Fields forever, John.


  1. After I noticed your comment on my blog, I decided to yours out. Partially out of sheer courtesy, but also out of curiosity. I really didn't think anyone read my blog anymore. But I just wanted to let you know that after reading a lot of the entries, I'm impressed. Your posts are thought provoking, and while reading I have found a few similarities between you and I. Anyway, don't stop writing, you have one new reader. :)

  2. Transgenerational communication that transcends space and time is indeed interesting.("Yes. No. Uh, time, not space... No, I don't know what you're talking about." Name it.) Will we leave anything behind for the future? I guess another question to be answered.