Monday, October 09, 2006

seeing you come of age

The Roswithan weltanschauung has undergone the disturbing influences of pain, rage and disorientation over the past fortnight in alarming simultaneity. However, the muscle strain in my back turned out to be just that and not a symptom of the onset of multiple sclerosis, contrary to my paranoid imaginings. The state of the world has simmered back down to causing mere disgust and frustration, and I'm quite over the whirlwind business trips and general promotion-induced haplessness of the past. So I arrive in this birthday week, first to offer congratulations on the superannuation of Aishwarya, who turned 21 yesterday, and then to the keeper of my soul and best friend, Flatmate #1, with whom early readers of this blog may have a vague acquaintance. Cronehood is here! Soon you will be doomed to unsteady teeth, hobbling, a disinterest in celebrating alienation, and proposals of arranged marriage. Death has crept one step closer to you both. Seize the day.

Apart from the prospect of chocolate cake not much else mitigates today's circumstances. John Lennon, had he lived, would have turned sixty-six today. An early, violent and tragic murder enshrined John in the hearts and minds of two successive generations as the symbol of several things. He is the idealistic man-child whose aversion to violence, at least in his songs, became a sort of fearful prophecy of his own end. He is the irresistible, irreverent Smart One, the troubled teenager, the passionate swain, the Jesus-surrogate, the alternative to politics and war, all things good and innocent. Years after he was shot in Central Park the debate about gun control rages in the United States. The idealised brand of millionaire-hippieism that has become uniquely associated with the Lennon-Ono brand is best praised for not making anything worse. A Lennon solo exists in an airtight, nostalgic space, quite unlike the fluid, mind-altering products of his songwriting years with Paul McCartney.

Paul's always been my favourite Beatle. He was the marketable face, but that never changes the fact that he was as important to the setup as John: he was the artisan, the backbone, the lightbringer*. The conflict is present in the McCartney half of the partnership, between irony and seriousness, but it generally takes a backseat for the vivid, cruel Lennoness, except for the very early and very late Beatles records - on Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, for example, the John-voice overlays so much of the feel that an actually hilarious little jog like the infamous When I'm Sixty-Four seems to be for serious, in comparison. Still, Paul is a straw-victim in the fake war of ideologies that (fakely) bifurcates the world of the Beatles. He'd hold his own in an arm-wrestling competition between the two of them if he had to. John knew this when he said that no one would ever come out of a pub whistling 'I Am The Walrus,' as the might with 'Yesterday.' (I actually think it's the reverse for a lot of people.) He just exists on a different plane, of symphonies and ditties and virtues and sins, as the modern classic of dance-rock has it. He doesn't write tragedies.

Today I wondered if a living, aging John Lennon might have taken on the world's problems, walking down the streets of New York believing he was Bono (who, in spite of everything, is the closest thing to the replacement-Jesus of rock music today). I doubt sabbath economics would have been his thing, or fair trade, or AIDS relief. It's difficult to come down to brass tacks from the billboard-high of 'War Is Over.' The world might have grown into that sort of absolute, final expectation, though. I don't know how much of a chance there is that it might have led people to demand that sort of accountability, because they had a loud, bizarre, absolutist colossus of a mouthpiece. It's so naive - the paths we've taken in the last twenty-five years have all but shattered the dream of the possession-free, agnostic world of Imagine. Nowhere but in music have borders ceased to exist.

Some dream to have while it lasted, I guess.

Out on the ocean,
Sailing away;
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age-
But I guess we'll both
Just have to be patient,
'cause it's a long way to go,
and it's a hard road to hoe,
Yes it's a long way to go,

but in the meantime

Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans.

current musix: john lennon - beautiful boy (darling boy)


*Oh Harrison fans, but me no buts.


  1. To you, I give snuggles!

    (I'm a Harrison fan.;))

  2. Anonymous1:46 am

    hey...been a regular here for a few months now *something they call silent confused reader*...i cant make out most of the stuff here :( *still*

    btw you write pretty well..its just that for me it seems like some other complex language :) too thinks lenon was jesus back as usual...peace :)

  3. @ aishwarya: I adore the man to pieces too - would it be possible not to? And of course we all know that Ringo was the seekrit criminal mastermind of the outfit, which is why we don't pay any attention to him overtly. I guess one just ends up loving them all in different ways, yes. *grabs the snuggles*

    @ bvn: Wow. Because nothing says love like silent confusion. Peace out, bro.

  4. Anonymous3:14 am

    methinks im the only one whose fav beatle boy is lennon...
    his music is the most honest.