Nobody told me there’d be days like these.

As mentioned yesterday, today is/would’ve been John Lennon’s 70th birthday.

via YouTube.

I keep seeing little shrines to and admirations of the man all over the internet too. That’s amazing to me. Amazing that we stop and think about that still, this musical and pop artist from decades and decades ago, that he’s still affecting us with his music and ideas and persona even now. I mean, I can understand why people like my mother are still thinking about Lennon but it shocks me whenever I notice people younger than me talking about or listening to the Beatles or the various members’ solo material.

It shocks me but it pleases me as well. It’s natural to dislike the music of the younger generations because most of it is, at best, loud raw bullshit. My generation had the 90s and the glorious music of that time (that’s what our memories keeping assuring us) but the kids these days have… what? Paramore? Justin Bieber. It’s a shame.

But it’s also natural, I think to dislike when the younger generation starts coming up on you, encroaching on your scene, professing admiration of the music you hold so dear, that has become a part of your genetic make up, and yet they don’t know the singer’s name or don’t know the title of track 3 on that band or artist’s second album or don’t know all the lyrics like you. It’s like when you would hear Avril Lavigne tell you that Nirvana was the greatest band in the world. She didn’t know what she was talking about and it made the things you like feel cheaper because of it, because she hadn’t earned it.

And yet we forget about the act of discovery that comes with music, both with hearing an artist for the first time on the radio, if that kind of thing still happens, or playing over that sad scene with lots of crying in your favorite network drama. Or discovering an older artist, someone before your time, quite by accident. It’s amazing to you. It shows you that this great big world that you finally felt like you had a handle on perhaps has a little more depth, a little more beauty and gorgeous weirdness in it than you could’ve guessed. And it’s time to explore all of that.

And yet, Lennon’s music should come with a history lesson attached. He wasn’t just an artist with a discography, his story was a fucking saga. There’s so many facets to his tale and his life that you feel like a fucking Star Trek nerd just for taking all those details in and holding onto them. Or, at least, I do.

Growing up I was that weird little kid who adored his parent’s Beatles records and would spend long afternoons and late nights just sitting by the turntables, which that thing spin around and being mesmerized by their music. I read all the books I could on the Beatles, delved into all the ridiculous anecdotes and bizarre peripheral characters in their tale.

I’ve always been an oddity at the party (though the attendees at most parties are all oddities, or should be, I know). While everyone else knows everything about what’s going on with some bullshit famous NYC hipster or what’s happening on the latest episode of Real Housewives Of Wherever, I was always the guy who had far too many factoids about the heroes of classic rock. Amongst many others, that was always just one of my things.

To their fans, either those who grew up as the band was growing up or those who discovered the much later, they felt like your favorite characters in a story that was happening in and around you. There were ups and downs and turmoil and laughs and joy and you escape into one of their albums and it’d become a part of your life. John Lennon died months before I was even born and I still took their break up hard almost 30 years after it happened.

But as for the band themselves, I always took the question “who’s your favorite Beatle?” to be a kind of basic personality test. It wasn’t just a matter of “the one with the pointy nose” or “the shy one” or “the cute one” or “Jesus, Ringo is fucking weird looking,” it was about who you identified. Who personified all your weirdness and abstract traits. Who managed to be as much like you, but better.

I guess for us John fans, it was the romantic idea of the intellectual rebel. That’s why we liked him. It felt like he was against something, but nobly. Through him our character flaws and quirks and all the ways we didn’t fit with others, all of that became just a part of our affectation.

Of course now I imagine, in a way, that John Lennon is more like Che Guevara…

He’s more of a symbol, an artistic flourish, than a real person who once existed. Or… is he?

from here.

John came off as an asshole perfectionist, not too different from Paul in that regard, but there was something more off putting about John. It felt like he’d rather offend you than make you laugh along with him. He wasn’t a chameleon like Bob Dylan, constantly discovering himself by changing identities and styles, but John seemed more interested in dealing with his issues by shaving away all the human parts of himself and becoming sharper, crueler. He found his issues and rather than making peace with them, he just become them, he inserted himself deeper into them. He could be charming, he could be disarming, he could be cruel, but it felt like he would never surrender to the working class sadness the world had seemed to be laying out for him. His personality was the perfect prototype for someone like Kanye West (or, to a lesser extent, someone like Billy Corgan maybe). His past was not a particularly great one, nor was he always satisfied with the present it seemed, so he kept pushing forward, never resting, never giving up the rhythm. He was a poet and a genius, and seemed to take the world about as half as seriously as it had ever taken him, and in that regard, I think he saw the world more clearer than most insulated, influenced musicians ever do. That’s why I think his songs can seem absurd sometimes, or like the work of a bored artist, but at times they cut deep, slicing into a vein that feels all too familiar.

But I think John was, in the classic style of British musicians, pretty good at selling you a lot of bullshit when he felt like it. And while I don’t think you could question or belittle his impact or his talent, I think I just gave you about 900 words of bullshit as well. Enjoy.

Three last things about this man from Liverpool…

Do you think you’re a genius?

Yes, if there is such a thing as one, I am one. When did you realize that what you were doing transcended — People like me are aware of their so-called genius at ten, eight, nine. . . . I always wondered, “Why has nobody discovered me?” In school, didn’t they see that I’m cleverer than anybody in this school? That the teachers are stupid, too? That all they had was information that I didn’t need? I got fuckin’ lost in being at high school. I used to say to me auntie, “You throw my fuckin’ poetry out, and you’ll regret it when I’m famous, ” and she threw the bastard stuff out. I never forgave her for not treating me like a fuckin’ genius or whatever I was, when I was a child. It was obvious to me. Why didn’t they put me in art school? Why didn’t they train me? Why would they keep forcing me to be a fuckin’ cowboy like the rest of them? I was different, I was always different. Why didn’t anybody notice me? A couple of teachers would notice me, encourage me to be something or other, to draw or to paint – express myself. But most of the time they were trying to beat me into being a fuckin’ dentist or a teacher. And then the fuckin’ fans tried to beat me into being a fuckin’ Beatle or an Engelbert Humperdinck, and the critics tried to beat me into being Paul McCartney.

That’s from Lennon’s 1971 interview with Rolling Stone.

This is me talking about May Pang and Lennon’s brief “lost weekend” phase. This is me talking about Lennon entering the world of comics as godhead/musical deity. This is me talking about mind games, of course.

And lastly one of my absolute favorite of John Lennon’s songs…

…the sadly underrated “Look At Me.” I point these kinds of songs out whenever I see them but if ever there was a song about bloggers, that’s definitely one of them.

And we all shine on.

I read the news today, oh boy.

from here.

Sunday (catch up) reading list:

Firstly, the Rolling Stone article on whys and hows of the Beatles breaking up. I knew a lot of this stuff from my youthful days as a Beatles fan and just a nerdy kid with a lot of classic rock trivia stored in my melon, but it’s still interesting to take it all back in.

The Beatles’ likeness from their incarnation of Rock Band.

Especially since it really narrows all three and a half of them (sorry, Ringo, but you may as well have been a cardboard cutout or on luudes throughout the 60s) to their sincerely petty little faults and jealousies. Paul comes off as a control freak who put both his three mates and the music ahead of how his three mates felt about him or the music, and John Lennon, whom we always knew was a little messed up guy, finally went overboard and tried to change who he was while battling Paul for either the soul of the band or the right to be the one who finally killed it dead. While there was definitely “the Yoko factor,” it was more just a tool of John’s used against the rest of the band, especially Paul who he felt had taken more power and was more creative/talented/happier than he. Talk about two guys who needed each other, but couldn’t express it…

On an only semi-related note: Liam Gallagher has quit Oasis for like the seven billionth time. “I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer,” he says. Sounds like somebody needs themselves a champagne supernova.

Secondly, this quote: “Craig Newmark] already has a parking space, a hummingbird feeder, a small home with a view, and a shower with strong water pressure. What else is he supposed to want?” That’s from an article in Wired about the founder of Craigslist that I started the other day and haven’t quite finished yet. So far, though, it’s interesting.

Also in the magazine is an article I’ve also only skimmed about people who’ve faked their own deaths and essentially vanished or disappeared or gone on the run (though, obviously, not totally successfully). What a fascinating idea. Like you haven’t thought about it before. How would you fake your own death? How would you disappear?

Well, you can bump and grind, and it’s good for your mind.

You can twist and shout and let it all hang out…

Children Of The Revolution” by Marc Bolan and T-Rex.

Released in September of 1972… Just look at that video. This is pure ridiculous glam rock. Maybe too much so, yes, but this puts The Darkness to hot, nasty shame. Aside from Bowie, to me, Marc Bolan is glam. Most people my age, if they’ve ever heard of him or T-Rex, it was through a car commercial years back that used “20th Century Boy” as it’s anthem (the song was also used in a Levi’s commercial starring Brad Pitt in 1991), which is harshly ironic considering that Bolan died in a car accident, but when has that ever stopped commercialization?

Now why do I choose to share this song with you now? Simple. To me, this should be the campaign song of 2008.

Above is a much tamer version of the song, from what I believe is Born To Boogie, a concert film from 1972 featuring rare footage shot inside Apple studios with the likes of Elton John and Ringo Starr. Not a bad version at all, but it lacks a certain energy that this song demands.

But as far as politics go: I really like that Obama appeals to a higher cause in America, the idea of unfulfilled promise and undaunted hope for all people, something you’d see in an emmy-worthy scene on The West Wing, maybe. I want to get that JFK part deux/here comes the new messiah vibe too, but I think I’m too jaded. But I like that he takes that high road (which is easy when you look at how crazy and hate-filled even McCain’s walk is, let alone rhetoric), because… well, you have to. He is the future, and the possibility of unification based on ideas regardless of skin color, wealth, religion, etc., so why not show a little class and maturity? Especially when you’re taking your belt off to quite literally spank the previous generation in the polls in front of the entire nation.

But then there’s people like me. Too damn jaded. Too angry. I want to be more optimistic, but instead I’m angry. Almost John McCain angry. To the point that it’s not enough for me to see Obama win. I want to see McCain lose. Read this article and see why, but more than simply McCrazyballs himself, I hate this new post-Rove era in America where it’s okay to be stupid, it’s okay to just sit back, get fat, dumb, and masturbate to the illusion of happiness and security. I hate that we’ve just accepted that we’re uninformed. And I hate that we’ve let them get away with it for so fucking long now.

That’s the Violent Femmes covering the song back in 1986 and I like that version as much as the original heavy glam version. I remember hearing their version of it years ago at an 80s themed party and having to stop for a moment and let it’s not too subtle meaning wash over me. Yes, WE, the younger generation could be the children of the revolution, but only if we wanted to, and only if we acted on that desire. But I was just some guy standing around at a party, what did I know?

So, only knowing the things I know, I’m going to talk about music here with my politics. Remember the Clinton’s campaign song? “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac. Pure Baby Boomer. Pure optimism in a wife swapping musical collective’s anthem. I didn’t even know why at the time, being that I was probably 11 the year Clinton won the Presidency, but even I knew that song resonated in some way. “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow…”

Sure, Obama’s probably got this election in the bag already, but I’m not ready to just sit back and be happy about that yet. It’s not over yet, it’s probably going to be close in places, and I still want to fight. I want to send that very important message: We won’t get fooled again. And The Who song is a bit cliched at this point.

As far as “Children Of The Revolution” goes, this is some very European MILF performing the song live (it’s kind of terrifying, like watching Heart reunite on way too many pills) and this is Bono and Gavin Friday’s version of the song on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. This is the borderline horrible Baby Ford version , Patti Smith covering it at a T-Rex tribute concert in NYC in 2007, and here it is used in Neil Jordan’s Breakfast On Pluto. And this is Elton John and Pete Doherty covering the song in a fairly shambolic manner at Live 8:

I’m not honestly sure if Pete Doherty’s drunk or just forgotten their lyrics a few times there or both, but it still tells me that the man belongs on stage making music rather than walking around in his own life. On his own he’s just a mess of a manchild, groping his way along to what you hope isn’t a pathetically easy to guess unhappy ending. Fuck forever, indeed.

Tomorrow’s one week til the election. Hopefully the children of the revolution won’t get fooled again.