Carolyn and I both really enjoy John Lennon’s powerful and magical songs and have been inspired by his life.
Born in Liverpool, England in 1940, Lennon achieved international fame as a singer, songwriter, musician, visual artist, and peace activist. He is best known as the founder, co-songwriter, co-lead vocalist, and rhythm guitarist of The Beatles, which is regarded as the most influential rock band of all time, and Lennon’s songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney remains the most successful in music history.
Lennon had a difficult childhood. His mom died when he was a teenager, he failed his pre-university examination in school, and he was known for his rebellious nature. However, he was accepted into the Liverpool College of Art after his aunt and headmaster intervened on his behalf. At the age of 15, Lennon formed a folk music band called The Quarrymen with several school friends. At The Quarrymen’s legendary second performance, Lennon met fellow musician Paul McCartney, who had also lost his mother as a boy, and asked him to join the band. The Quarrymen evolved into The Beatles in 1960, with George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
Lennon’s top-of-the-chart songs about peace and love were adopted as anthems by the anti-war movement and the counterculture of the 1960s. In 1969, to many people’s dismay, Lennon quit the Beatles to embark on a solo career. That same year he started the Plastic Ono Band with his second wife, multimedia artist Yoko Ono, and they collaborated on many songs over the years. Lennon composed the song Come Together, as a campaign song when Timothy Leary announced that he was running for governor of California in 1969, and Lennon and Ono held nonviolent protests against the Vietnam War, called “the Bed-ins for Peace.”
Lennon was also an author and visual artist. In the mid-1960s, he wrote In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works, two collections of creative writings and line drawings. A beautiful selection of his delightful drawings, which have a Zen-like quality in their simplicity and elegance, can be found in the book, John Lennon: The Collected Artwork.
Lennon’s songs tap into something deep within the human spirit and have broad appeal across generational and cultural boundaries. He recorded 12 albums with The Beatles, and eight albums afterward. As a performer, writer, and co-writer, Lennon had 25 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and he received numerous awards, including the 1981 Grammy Award for Album of the Year, for his best-selling album Double Fantasy.
Lennon died tragically in 1980 when he was shot outside his Manhattan home, but his music and spirit live on. In 1997 he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a member of the Beatles in 1988, and as a solo artist in 1994. A year after Lennon died, his song Imagine hit number one in the U.K., and his song Happy Xmas peaked at number two in the charts.
Some quotes that John Lennon is remembered for include:
Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.
There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.
I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?
When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.
Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.