Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Thoughts on the Legacy of John Lennon

The lasting impact of John Lennon can be found almost anywhere rock music is heard today. Through creating the Beatles and the formation of a songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney, he modernized popular music and expanded the boundaries of creativity of the art form.

Reading about the Beatles over the years, it surprised me to discover the extent to which Lennon paid attention to the music charts; one would think he would have needed to seek this kind of validation for work that is so obviously of high quality. Regardless, the Beatles dominated the charts in almost every way and are still a benchmark in the measurement of popular music and its influence ("It's nice to be liked," he once remarked.) That caring about public opinion translated into an incredible personal availability to admirers who dropped by to see him, whether at his home in Surrey, England or out on the street in New York City.

After having revolutionized music by the time he was 30, he turned his attention and talents towards working for positive change. Interestingly, it was a letter from filmmaker Peter Watkins in 1969 that seemed to push his private beliefs on war and peace into the public domain. Recognizing that when he sang millions listened, he channeled his message through songs like "Give Peace a Chance, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)," and "Imagine."

References to Lennon are so culturally ubiquitous now I almost forget they are there. It's common to see his visage in stores, homes, and restaurants (a few weeks ago I saw a painting of him with Santa Claus while at lunch). His influence is so strong that it's not surprising to hear his name referred to as a musical inspiration from the young and old or brought up directly in song, as in the Arkells' "John Lennon":

1 comment:

Toyin O. said...

Great article and video, thanks for sharing.