Oct. 9, 2010, will commemorate the 70th anniversary of a revolutionary, and an original soul whose legacy has far outlived his death. John Lennon was born in Liverpool, England, and, despite dropping out of college his junior year, he eventually rose to extraordinary and lasting fame with The Beatles, and later in life had a very successful solo music career.
For his 70th birthday anniversary, the popular search engine Google will design a special logo utilizing Lennon’s likeness, and a short film about Lennon will play when the search logo is clicked. Events are being planned around the world for Lennon’s birthday, including the unveiling of a peace monument in his home town, a viewing of the short film Lennon/NYC in strawberry fields in New York City, and a concert in L.A. featuring Yoko Ono, Lennon’s wife, and Lady Gaga, among others.
For many, John Lennon symbolized peace and a willingness to tackle immense social injustices to help his fellow man. While many believe his assassination in December of 1980 instantly made him an unfounded and undeserved martyr, the fact still stands that Lennon spent his life bringing people joy and a sense of belonging through his music and his message of unity and understanding.
Lennon spent his life facing tragedy and adversity. He was abandoned by his father before his birth, and given to his aunt by his mother shortly after his birth. His aunt spent much of his youth telling him that his dreams of stardom and fame were unachievable, and that he was better off attending college to enter into a mundane public service career.
He faced hardships yet again when, at the age of 17, his mother was struck and killed by a drunken police officer. Instead of letting his tumultuous youth put a stop to his dreams, he used his personal life in many of his songs; he gave a generation lost in war and such social upheaval as the Watergate scandal reassurance that their struggles were ones that many people shared. He became not only a singer and songwriter, but a friend to his innumerable fans.
His legacy has become especially poignant and powerful in the 21st century thanks to the war in Iraq and a slumping economy. His song “Imagine” is one that I could listen to over and over again, finding meaning in every word; when he sings “Imagine all the people, sharing all the world…I hope one day you’ll join us, and the world will live as one,” I can’t help but think of the tense times we live in, where every country looks to the shorelines, wondering who is developing nuclear weapons, or if our own government is pulling the wool over our eyes.
Lennon was a visionary whose work was revolutionary before its time. He was hardly a perfect man, but his impact on the world is undeniable. To me, Lennon is timeless, and his message and rawness will always apply to the trials and hard falls of the world, as will his plea that we imagine a world where everyone is one.
My favorite quote comes directly from John, a message on a smaller scale, a reminder that even when he was fighting for peace and global understanding, he was thinking of the common man, and taking each day as it came:”Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.”
Although it remains to be seen if John would approve of the numerous celebrations to commemorate his birthday, it’s fitting that he be remembered all the same, as someone bigger than just a man.
Martin Lewis, Remembering Lennon, time.com
John Lennon, Beautiful Boy, metrolyrics.com