John Lennon

T.A. Barnhart

October 9, 1940 - December 8, 1980

We can argue about who the greatest rock singer\songwriters are, but no one can argue that John Lennon was a unique genius. His voice could steamroll you or break your heart, and watching him in film clips or in "A Hard Day's Night," you get a sense of how much life he contained. The most wonderful part of John, even more than his music, is that he went from being a troubled and horrendous person to a settled and caring man. The release of "Double Fantasy" was like a new birth, for both Lennon and his fans. I was absolutely blown away the first time I heard "Starting Over." I felt the kind of thrill that is so rare in life: discovering something new, amazing and joyous.

And on this sad anniversary, almost to the hour as I post this, I turn to the one John Lennon song that stands above them all. As the music of the past fifty years fades with time, "Imagine" will live on. John's prayer to what is possible (using thoughts and words given him by Yoko, as he would later admit), this was the song that went through my mind over and over as I walked the streets of Bath, England, the day following his murder.

(And what can be said of Yoko Ono, for the patience and love she showed all those years? What a remarkable and courageous example of the redeeming power of love.)

Over the years, too many of my favorite singer-songwriters have left us far too early: Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, John Denver, Kate Wolf, Steve Goodman, Eva Cassidy. The loss of each is painful, but none more than John Lennon. How bitter that the man who gave us the following was taken so close to the holiday his song gives new meaning?


  • Greg D. (unverified)

    Imagine indeed.

    Imagine a world where people stop spending money on "wants" and save their money for "needs". You know - save their money in a savings account. Remember what that is / was?

    Imagine a world where women don't buy purses or carrying bags that, due to their special initials and corporate logos, cost $600.00.

    Imagine a world where men don't buy automobiles that have nothing to do with transportation but are designed to build your "sexual image".

    Imagine families that shop in regular grocery stores and stay home and cook and don't waste money on buying food at restaurants except maybe once or twice a year to celebrate birthdays or special events.

    Don't be a slave to the man. John would be proud.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Lennon went from being an angry, needy, young man, as Greg describes most are, to being a caring one through meditation which taught him what his true needs were. I agree with Lennon and Socrates, "the unreflective life is not worth living".

    TA mentions the season and his death. The atheist display currently in the Washington capitol building could be taken from Imagine: “At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)

    T.A..... I was fortunate to be able to see three on your 'died too young' list: Jim, Harry and Steve...... I can attest to to each one being an incredible performer which I think flows simply from their personalities and souls. I too miss each one dearly along with John.

  • JTT (unverified)

    Amen...though I tend to remember and celebrate the memory and legacy of John Lennon on his birthday (since we share it).

    Peace and Love.

  • (Show?)

    Speaking of Yoko and what a shit John really was during those Beatle years, especially later--I was reading something recently that actually pinned Yoko's omnipresence on JOHN...that it was he who forced her to accompany him everywhere, even the bathroom. It was he who violated the "no wives/girlfriends in the studio" agreement they had.

    Throwing out a little pop psychology, for someone who effectively lost his mother twice, you'd expect some abandonment issues. Having found his soulmate, is it hard to imagine (no pun intended) him becoming obsessive about never letting her go?

    I don't think it was meditation that changed him, frankly. It was a lost weekend and a new son, IMO.

  • Sam A. (unverified)

    TA, With the right Lennon memorabilia Blagojevich would probably make you Senator of Illinois.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    I guess I was thinking about what Greg was saying, towards what Lennon would have to say to young people today, and thought of an interview from 1967.

    Q: "Are you deliberately using the power of the Beatles to spread the word about transcendental meditation?"

    JOHN: "Yes, because we've never felt like this about anything else. We want the younger generation, especially, to know about it. It's for everyone. For 'householders' as the Maharishi calls them. Just for ordinary people. You don't have to be some sort of freak to meditate. We've got to convince people we are not mystic... get through our million images to show people that what we can do, anyone can do.

    Q: "Are you convinced that meditation will last your life, that it won't be just a phase?"

    JOHN: "I've got some reservations, of course, but I'm convinced it works in the way they say it works. There's a lot more to learn yet. But I'm willing to find out. You don't have to have a great faith or anything. The whole thing is so simple - as though it's too marvelous to be true. You think: 'Why haven't I heard about it before?' But in fact, it's been around for a long, long time.""

  • Nigel Nicholson (unverified)

    I think he must have had some self-consciousnes from an early age, regardless of the beaviour that Liverpuddlian ethics elicited. My fav is his telling his step-mother when she'd thrown his drawing out as a kid, that she would regret it someday when he was famous.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)

    Zarathustra typed:

    "TA mentions the season and his death. The atheist display currently in the Washington capitol building could be taken from Imagine:

    “'At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.'”

    Religion is multi-faceted. Whoever came up with that display is building a strawman. There is fundamentalist religion, which is appropriately mocked above, and then a wide-range of non-fundamentalist and yet respectful approaches to religion, which should themselves be respected, and not castigated as mere "myth and superstition." The self-proclaimed atheists who came up with the above display are in some ways just another brand of fundamentalists, putting down everyone and anyone who doesn't agree with their own approach to resolving unanswerable and timeless questions.

    Want an example of what I'm talking about? Read Spinoza's Ethics and Theological-Political Treatise. Then check out the religious views of his disciples, Einstein and Goethe. Then tell me that they're all about superstition and myth.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    Huh? Spinoza would accept the "myth superstition" argument from theologians talking about the Bible! Check out Chapter 14 of the work you cite. "However, I will not level the charge of impiety against those sectaries simply because they adapt the words of Scripture to their own beliefs."

    Try talking to a child that doesn't have the cognitive maturity to understand something is happenstance and you'll hear the same level of argument. People make models to explain the world. Anything their model can't account for is religion/god/mystical. That is why God is shrinking and is nearly dead.

    I'm usually misquoted on that, by omission. Yes, "God is dead", "and it is you that have killed him". That extra bit usually doesn't get included. (BO is my untergang).

  • daniel spiro (unverified)


    You started off your latest post with "Huh?" But that would be my reaction to your comment as well. The sentence you pluck out of Chapter XIV of the TTP hardly responds to the broad point I'm making. Spinoza's followers include many philosophers who have adopted an essentially religious attitude toward life -- including embracing the word "God" -- even though their religion is not Scripture or revelation-based, and even though their God does not work outside of nature (though their God may transcend those attributes of nature that are accessible to the human mind).

    If we're not communicating, fine. But I'm normally able to communicate with people who are schooled in Nietzsche and Spinoza, and I sense that we're two ships passing in the night here. I'm not responding to you to score debators points. My point is merely to remind you that you don't have to decry religion -- even God -- to reject an anthropomorphized or supernatural diety. Even Nietzsche could be viewed as a religious man (who venerated life, nature and fate) and as one who could potentially embrace the word "God" ... but simply not the traditional conceptions of God that have come to dominate western religions throughout history. After all, Spinoza has been called a God-intoxicated man, and Nietzsche once wrote that, because of Spinoza, he is now a "dualitude."

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    I'm not going to argue Spinoza on a thread about John Lennon and "Imagine". Some respect please, if not for the man and the tune then for what they mean to a lot of people. If you want to teach Zarathustra about Nietzsche, bring it!

  • daniel spiro (unverified)

    First of all, Zarathustra, I love John Lennon. I may a member of the "religious left," but that doesn't prevent me from appreciating a guy like him. I grew up with two bands in my pantheon -- the Stones and the Beatles. Yes, I'd place them in that order, but that's hardly a knock on the Beatles.

    Secondly, your beloved Nietzsche isn't so far from Spinoza -- and the "intellectual love of God" -- as you might think. Yes, he trashed Spinoza sometimes in his books, but he couldn't praise Goethe enough, and Goethe treated Spinoza similarly. Moreover, I'd like to attach the entire quotation that I alluded to in my last post. This was from Nieztzsche. You may find it in Yovel's "Spinoza and Other Heretics," if you want a cite.

    “I am utterly amazed, utterly enchanted. I have a precursor, and what a precursor! I hardly knew Spinoza: that I should have turned to him just now was inspired by ‘instinct.’ Not only is his over-all tendency like mine – making knowledge the most powerful affect – but in five main points of his doctrine I recognize myself; this most unusual and loneliest thinker is closest to me precisely in these matters; he denies the freedom of the will, teleology, the moral world order, the unegoistic, and evil. Even though the divergencies are admittedly tremendous, they are due more to the differences in time, culture, and science. In summa, my solitude, which as on very high mountains, often made it hard for me to breathe and made my blood rush out, is at least a dualitude.”

  • j_luthergoober (unverified)
    <h2>Locke is the American philosopher - Since man is born a blank slate, he/she is an inherently an atheist at birth.</h2>

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