by Robert Wilkinson
October 9 we celebrate the birthday of a man who gave the world "All You Need is Love," the first global broadcast, and "Give Peace A Chance," the rallying cry that united millions in ending a useless war (yes, "useless war" IS a redundancy!) An orphan with a bad attitude, his life was a miracle journey of ego to the peak of absolute fame, power, and wealth, the crash that inevitably follows, and the redemption of a life through love, appreciation, and respect for inner and outer peace. Musician, author, caricaturist, movie star, hell raiser, rabble rouser, troubled genius and sometimes not a very nice guy, nonetheless he was one of the best of all time. Today we have a LOT of videos of this remarkable man for the ages.
In case you were on Uranus in the 60s, not yet born, or raised in a culturally deprived environment, a little backstory. The world was changed when he met Sir Paul when they were both kids in 50s post-war Britain and started making music together, quickly bringing in young Sir George forming the nucleus of a band that was remarkable in that it was BOTH a) the best at what they did, and b) the most loved for what they did. Beatlemania was truly a global phenomenon unlike anything before or since.
For an example check out She Loves You from the Beatles' first American tour in 1964. Here's another example of Beatlemania at its height, a live performance from Shea Stadium in 1965 of "Twist and Shout" and "Baby's In Black," perfectly capturing the pandemonium of their concerts, where it is said no one could hear any of the music over the screaming, including the Beatles themselves.
Even when he had moved on from the Beatles while the world wanted more, more, more, he still let his creativity hang out, giving us the concept of "bagism," using his honeymoon as a media event to focus on peace, individually and collective. Persecuted for years by J. Edgar Hoover and Republican party lowlifes for his political antiwar muscle, he never lost his acid wit.
While he was no paragon of virtue, fatherhood, or much else one could admire except for his musical genius when younger, he redeemed it all in amazing ways in his final years of life. A man on a quest, after the Beatles he spent the rest of his way too short life getting beyond the chains of the philosophical rope-a-dope or superficial dedication to a cause that so many celebrities indulge in today. This man walked his walk and let it all hang out for all the honest world to feel.
From John Lennon.com videos of "Working Class Hero," "Give Peace A Chance," "Imagine," "Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)," "Watching The Wheels," "Starting Over," "Woman," "Love," "Mother," "Stand By Me," "Mind Games," and "Cold Turkey."
From his Beatles years, here's one of my personal faves, the Fab Four doing Please Please Me, a masterpiece of a song. We also have one of the most famous Beatle performances ever, a rare moment where you can hear them at their early best, including John's famous on-stage request "For our last number, I'd like to ask your help. Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you if you'd just rattle your jewelry." For your enjoyment, Twist And Shout Live at the London Palladium in 1963. Here's an exceptional video of "Twist and Shout" at the NME.
As if you didn't already have enough versions of this song, here's another performance of Twist and Shout here, and yet another live performance of "Twist and Shout" in Manchester in 1963 in color where the screams are a trip unto themselves, as they were at ALL Beatle concerts!
Here's a link to Beatles videos including performances of "She Loves You/I Want To Hold Your Hand," and "I'm Down," with a very interesting visual created for "Tomorrow Never Knows/Within You Without You."
More Beatles videos, including their Ed Sullivan performance of "All My Loving" at this link. This site, Beatles videos, has so many that you could spend a week watching them all. He claims 280, and updates them regularly. A real treasure trove for Beatle fans.
Here's a lip synched "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "Twist and Shout, great videos despite them not being performed live. Another creative work incorporating several performances re-edited by a fan is You Can't Do That, with several Beatle media interviews showcasing their wit, humor, and charm that captivated the entire world at this link. It was definitely a more innocent time, filled with magic and wonder.
Beatles in his 20s, adrift amidst the personal wreckage of his past in his early 30s, devoted husband and father in his late 30s, dead at 40. Here's a happy 67th birthday greeting to you, John Lennon. The world is a better place for you having lived, and in your death we lost one who could rally the whole world for peace. I suppose that's your gift to all of us, that we should stop looking to you to take the lead, and each of us take the lead instead, as best we can. Thanks for the memories and inspiration. Starting Over. Gimme Some Truth. All You Need Is Love. Give Peace A Chance.
© Copyright 2007 Robert Wilkinson