Article 19

Rock On

Give Peace A Chance -John Lennon born: October 9, 1940

(Published in Times of India, Pune on 13th October, 2001)

I t was on July 6, 1957, in the dry and drab port city of Liverpool, England that two teenagers met for the very first time at a parish church performance. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were the names of these kids who would later go on to create history by forming a music group that would change the face of Pop music forever. 'The Quarrymen' was the name of John's band at that time and Paul was asked to join the band at that fateful meeting. Paul soon introduced George Harrison to the group that was to become the genesis of the Beatles and the band was quickly on their way to super stardom. John's dream of making it big like his idols from across the ocean was finally coming true.

In the early days, John Lennon was always considered the informal leader of the Beatles and it was under his umbrella that the Beatles went on to be the biggest musical happening of the century. The sheer quality and quantity of their creative work guaranteed them a place amongst the Bachs and Mozarts of the Western World. And it was John Lennon and Paul McCartney who composed 90% of this work!

The Lennon-McCartney tag after most Beatle songs led to the assumption that John Lennon and Paul McCartney jointly composed these songs. So it was quite a shock when we discovered that certain songs, especially in the later part of the Beatles' career, were actually omposed individually. This also served in giving us an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of their individual styles. Paul was the sweet melodic kid who sometimes came up with a song that surprised everybody with its lyrical maturity. John, on the other hand, always came through with his clever, cynical insights and surrealistic imagery. Coupled with the imaginative treatment of the songs and the creative inputs of the other members, his compositions became a tour de force that could withstand the passage of time for decades! "Help", "Strawberry fields forever", "Come together", and "All you need is love" were some Lennon songs that went under this Lennon-McCartney umbrella.

It is said that Paul, the other creative powerhouse in the band constantly hoped to win John's approval, especially in the earlier days. Unfortunately, the power struggle between Paul and John would later result in the break up of this great music group. The other reason touted for the demise of the Beatles was the ever-increasing influence of the older Japanese-American artist Yoko Ono in John's life. Yoko was into bizarre experimental artistic works and her 'over the top' projects impressed John immensely. They were soon married and the John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was formed to record and perform the works of this duo. Unfortunately, this resulted in a series of highly forgettable artistic and commercial failures.

John and Yoko had by then decided to immigrate to New York, which they felt had a more open and tolerant society, which would view their free form experimentalism favorably. Surprisingly, this was the period that Lennon released his most popular solo album to date, the No. 1 charting 'Imagine', which featured songs presented in a more accessible manner than his earlier works. 'Imagine' remains to date my favorite John Lennon solo effort, in spite of his vitriolic attack on Paul McCartney in 'How to you sleep?' The song, a personal attack on Paul truly exposed the rift that had developed between these two geniuses over the years. Their love-hate relationship was unfortunately never resolved until after John's untimely death at the hands of a deranged fan, who shot him outside his apartment on December 8, 1980.

John has given to the modern world, some of its best songs. In fact, he was on the verge of comeback with the release of "Double Fantasy" when his assassination took him away from all of us. Some of his post-Beatles compositions like "Imagine," "Mind Games," "Instant Karma," and "Give Peace a Chance" have become anthems of today and will always fill us with a sense of hope. As the world goes through some of its toughest days, the loss of Lennon is felt even more. The sheer love that he advocated is the very message that the sad and weary world of today needs to lift itself out of the mess it finds itself in. He always lead by example and as the war against terrorism wages, I can imagine Lennon's lonely voice pleading for sanity.

Rock on!

Nandu Bhende











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