John Lennon would have turned 75 today. Some are taken from us much too soon.
Some remember where they were when they heard of JKF’s assassination. I heard of Lennon’s murder while watching Monday Night Football as a pimply 15-year-old. It’s the only remaining memory I have of Monday Night Football.
Lennon is one of those universally loved and respected figures whose image you can find in most corners of the planet. The photo above was taken in at a small arts market in Puerto Varas, Chile, in March 2013; the one below just a few weeks earlier in Los Antiguos, Argentina, where I wondered which songs Lennon and Che Guevara would play if they agreed to perform a three song set. (There’s no cosmic connection but it does bear noting that Guevara was killed on this day in 1967.)
Here’s a still I snapped of his video taped performance at the Closing Ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London and below that footage of the entire segment from one of the best 80,000-plus singalongs I’ve had the privilege of being a part of.
That performance of Imagine was as strong a testament as any to the evolving attitudes and changing times that real world politics and most political leaders never quite manage to keep up with. When the song was released in 1971, its message was considered an idealistic, even radical notion, words penned by a man who was as reviled as he was revered; 41 years later it’s a hymn universal enough to be performed –sung and signed– by a children’s choir on the world’s largest stage as the centerpiece of the Olympic closing ceremony.
Symbolic? Of course.
But I can think of worse symbols than one honoring a man who sang of working class heroes and whose most remembered work challenges us to imagine a world without religious division and war fueled by hatred and fear. We’re still far away from that world. But a few steps closer nonetheless thanks to people like John Lennon.