John Lennon is inevitably my favourite Beatle…I know George Harrison sneaks in at times for writing “Here Comes the Sun,” and the wondrous film clip for “Got My Mind Set on You”. And as an avid music lover – The Beatles are a force for musical history and the power of the human spirit. The avenue of The Beatles visit to India in the late 60s portrays insight into the evolution of their musical careers and lives from boyish suit-wearing Liverpool romantics into the beautiful men that merged spiritual visions and conscious messages into their lifestyle and music.
It is the spirit of John Lennon that weaves into my life through my inherent love of his wisdom, his voice, his music, his drawings, his humour and passion that influenced the heart and soul of the counterculture of the 1960s and beyond. All these reasons are endearing facets of a man that achieved so much on 40 years of life. And it is the overall vision of John Lennon that is probably the reason I am so drawn to his character after the years. A vision for peace and love on Earth.
It is these universal messages of imagination, love and peace that sparks John Lennon as a visionary for humanity. As the lyrics of Tomorrow Never Knows mirror the insights into consciousness that India inspired:
Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream It is not dying, it is not dying
Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void It is shining, it is shining
Yet you may see the meaning of within It is being, it is being
Love is all and love is everyone It is knowing, it is knowing
And ignorance and hate mourn the dead It is believing, it is believing
But listen to the colour of your dreams It is not leaving, it is not leaving
So play the game “Existence” to the end
Of the beginning, of the beginning.
The Beatles since their rise to fame in the early 60s have maintained the essence of being incredibly popular. And as a youth, I was thoroughly uninterested in a band that was fervently loved by so many. I managed to dismiss their catalogue entirely and so did my parents. My parents were too young for Beatle-mania to grip them. And, like most children, our musical influences are directly linked to the childhood music catalogue. As such, I was introduced to the colourful love songs of Fleetwood Mac, the raw rock ‘n’ roll heart of The Rolling Stones, the poetics of Bob Dylan, the importance of Paul Kelly and the veracity of the beloved Elvis Costello, but amidst all of these classics, never once did I hear a Beatles album.
Rather, it wasn’t until my younger sister was being encouraged by our sisters to learn Beatles Classics on guitar that my eldest sister Emma sang an acoustic version of the 1964 song, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” It was simple and beautiful. This judgement felt awkwardly placed amidst my inherent love of music. The influence of The Beatles on music meant that I began to realise the importance of these men for their contributions music, as an imaginative waterfall into the collective pools of humanity.
As legend portrays, John Lennon was born during a German bombing raid in October 1940 in Liverpool, England. And I later learned that my Grandfather, a pilot during the Second World War trained to monitor the air space in England, had avidly purchased tickets to The Beatles for their show in Sydney in 1964. It seemed that this inherent misplacement of The Beatles musical catalogue from my consciousness was not a family ritual in favour of The Rolling Stones.
John was an inherently creative child and is often quoted: “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
And it is this peculiar wisdom that marks John Lennon as a man that shatters the stalemate of grievous opinions.
In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and convinced him to do an interview. 38 years later, Levitan, director Josh Raskin and illustrators James Braithwaite and Alex Kurina have collaborated to create an animated short film using the original interview recording as the soundtrack:
The premiere of Imagine is shown in this extended interview in September 1971 alongside Yoko Ono. It is a wonderful interview that allows the Lennon dynamic and wit to emerge. There are a lot of messages and influences that shape the way we interact with and perceive our world today, and that is why I often drift back over to John Lennon as an inspiration for peace and love.
The recording of ‘Oh My Love’ in 1971 with George Harrison: