Friday, December 08, 2006

Goo Goo Ga Joob

Today is the 26th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon.

Since I was in my mid-teens, The Beatles have been my favourite band, and Lennon my favourite songwriter.

The colour, imagination and inventiveness of Lennon's work have always intrigued me, especially the way he could go from writing She Loves You to Tomorrow Never Knows in the space of only five years. This is a man who was almost simultaneously working on Dear Prudence, Sexy Sadie and Revolution #9, during a two-year period in which he became the greatest songwriter ever to have lived.

From the end of 1966 until the start of 1969, Lennon and McCartney were simply unassailable - quite a boast when competing with Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Simon and Garfunkel and The Beach Boys. In this short period of time, in which most modern bands would struggle to complete a solitary album, The Beatles released Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour and The White Album.

Lennon's contribution to the band's output in this period was frankly astonishing: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite, I Am The Walrus, All You Need Is Love and The Beatles' two finest moments, A Day In The Life and Strawberry Fields Forever.

True, his solo work never truly recaptured the scope of that recorded with The Beatles - but whose could? Imagine, as an album, is strong, though Phil Spector's over-the-top production does take a little of the lustre away from the songs. A flick through his 'greatest hits', including Instant Karma!, God and Mind Games, shows a gifted songwriter simultaneously carving his own niche whilst attempting to escape his own legcay.

So what would a 66-year-old John Lennon be doing were he alive today? The easiest answer is that no-one knows. Given that he was riddled with contradictions throughout his life, I doubt whether he would have fitted neatly into any of the boxes which he is commonly placed in.

Yes, he may have been at the forefront of campaigns such as Live8 - but suggested wisdom is that he didn't really enjoy performing. Would he simply have lived a quiet life as a house husband, living off royalties from his halcyon days? Maybe, but chances are the simple life would grate after a while. Would he have continued to churn out solo albums as Paul McCartney has done? We will never know.

That Lennon's work continues to have signifigance more than a quarter of a century after his untimely death shows how much he is still missed to this day.

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