Danny Tyree: So this is John Lennon’s 80th birthday (and what have you done?)

Published 12:33 am Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Ironically enough, I did not sleep PEACEFULLY last night, because I was concerned about taking the wrong tone with this column about the iconic singer/songwriter/musician and anti-war activist who wrote “Give Peace A Chance.”

Friday, Oct. 9 marks the 80th anniversary of the birth of John Lennon (who was murdered by a deranged fan on Dec. 8, 1980 at age 40).

In honor of Lennon’s outspokenness, I hesitated about writing a fawning Beatles-fan puff piece; but neither did I want to lay too much criticism on a fellow fallible human being who isn’t here to defend himself.

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Then I got the idea of thinking of Lennon as a Facebook friend.

Facebook allows you to experience the touchy-feely side of people you may know only casually. Likewise, the home movies in the video for Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy” (from the “Double Fantasy” album) genuinely tug at the heartstrings.

Various Facebook memes let you see your friends in a different light (“What would your pirate name be?” and the like). I got choked up seeing actor Robert Carlyle’s cameo as a 78-year-old unassuming, non-celebrity Lennon in the 2019 fantasy movie “Yesterday.”

Facebook shows you how your friends strive to grow and reinvent themselves. The Beatles COULD have hung on as a nostalgia act for decades, playing their “Ed Sullivan Show”-era hits at local dances and Rotary Club fundraisers; but (both before and after the breakup), Lennon thrived on innovation, experimentation and avant-garde aspirations, creating a deeper bond with the listeners and society.

With Facebook, you get treated to previously unseen “glory days” snapshots of your friends. On a recent weekend, my wife, our son and I FINALLY got to watch and enjoy the zany 1965 Beatles movie “Help!”

If you’re like me, you sometimes click “Like” without really scrutinizing all those vacation albums and kindergarten graduation albums that your friends inundate you with; but every now and then, you have the luxury of time. Lennon left a discography containing much more than commercial hits such as “Power to the People” and “Instant Karma” and I hope I live long enough to explore it.

And, of course, SOMETIMES your friends – no matter how witty, talented and lovable they are – espouse political beliefs so wrongheaded that they convince you they were repeatedly dropped on their heads as youngsters.

Yes, I’m thinking about “Imagine” (which some people would like to see replace the National Anthem). Although Lennon softened his interpretation of the message over the years, he was initially proud of having applied enough sugar-coating to lure unsuspecting millions into embracing an anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-capitalistic philosophy.

As with Facebook, I’m tempted to cope by rolling my eyes, agreeing to disagree and scrolling down to something less exasperating.

But seriously – don’t just sway and chant. THINK about the implications of the lyrics. They’re not just naïve or impractical or misguided; they’re all those things ON STEROIDS.
Imagine there’s no heaven? As if primordial ooze produced a genius such as Lennon? As if DREAMERS should relish the “fact” that all great musicians just CEASE TO EXIST?

No possessions? Um, stereos are possessions, dude.

Living for today?

Yes, I’ll live for today. I’ll ALSO cherish my MEMORIES and plan for a FUTURE in which I employ a wide range of emojis to keep new generations aware of John Winston Lennon – warts and all.

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”