It marks 40 years since the murder of John Lennon. His legacy is written in his music, but we take advantage of the anniversary to talk about his most fractious side: that of a man committed to his time and always in constant concern.
Being born in a bombing and dying in a shooting after spending a lifetime singing to peace, may be a reflection of the contradiction that Lennon’s life was … or pure poetry for romantics. He lived battling. First against the discipline that his aunt Mimi, with whom he grew up, tried to impose on him. His mother decided that her sister would take care of her son – we have the song Mother as a witness – while she remarried. By the time they regained their relationship, fate would play another trick on them and Julia was killed by a car. Lennon was 17 years old and he never recovered.
“We are more famous than Jesus Christ”
His famous phrase “We are more famous than Jesus Christ” cost him a conflict with the Vatican from where he was “condemned” for such blasphemy while Catholics from all over the world made bonfires with Beatles records. In 2008 they forgave him, alluding to the fact that those words were the result of the confusion of a working-class young man overwhelmed by success.
After this incident, their manager forbade them to write about politics, a will that they respected until his death. However, after Epstein’s death they broke their apolitical tendency with Revolution whose lyrics are dedicated to the revolts of the French May in support of young people on the Parisian streets. Since then it was a non-stop.
Marrying revolutions for the pleasure of being a widow.
In 1969 he returned his Member of the Order of the British Empire medal (awarded in 1965) in protest at the British intervention in Nigeria and British support for the Vietnam War. The same year he marries Yoko Ono and turns his honeymoon in Amsterdam into an act of protest. It would be the first of those called “bedridden for Peace” which consisted of spending a week in bed receiving journalists to spread the pacifist discourse. They repeated in Montreal this time giving rise to an anthem of the protests against the Vietnamese conflict Give Peace a Chance. Lennon had already declared that the “system” did not know how to act in the face of non-violence and humor, the key ingredients that this song possesses.
“I’ve always been politically prone, you know, and I’m against the status quo. It’s the basics when you grow up, like me, hating and fearing the police as a natural enemy and you despise the army as an entity that takes so many away and abandons them, dead, somewhere “
The development of the Vietnam War, the impact of religious sects, racial discrimination … led Lennon to go one step further. Go beyond music and engage in your statements, in your anti-war actions, in performance or advertising campaigns financed with your own money. He paid a high price for it, not only financially, which led him to political and personal persecution, especially in the United States.
He was never a comfortable character and that earned him, even in life, some fiery and deep admirations of a nature that none of the other Beatles managed to arouse. Lennon was always at war with the world.
The funny thing is that in his last interview on that fatal December 8, he seemed to have found a timid balance. Within embracing his contradictions, he had regained the desire to count, without destroying himself or immolating himself. He didn’t want to be a hero, he wanted to change things.
Something has done it.