If You Want To Be A Hero Well Just Follow Me
Twenty-fifth anniversary of John Lennon's death . . . I could go on and on about how important a person he was for me and for so many despite his flaws, but I'll just make one observation. It does Lennon a real disservice to treat him as a fuzzy loveable mascot for every unobjectionable cause. That's not what he was, at all. For a reminder of the real cutting edge on his music and words, check out Eric Alterman's reprise of one of Lennon's best and bitterest lyrics, "Working Class Hero." And even the somewhat schlocky (yes, McCartney-esque) "Imagine" isn't nearly as harmless as most people seem to assume: "Imagine there's no countries . . . " "Imagine there's no heaven . . ." "Imagine no possessions . . ." I'm hearing anti-patriotism, atheism, socialism! The people who play this song as if it's some toothless anthem of vague unspecified idealism obviously haven't spent three seconds thinking about what it actually says.
Yes, Lennon was sometimes vain, silly, mean, and arrogant. But he was honest, his instincts were sound, he sang about things that mattered, and above all he had guts. We miss his voice.
John Lennon, Eric Alterman