John Lennon would have turned 70 Saturday. Standing apart from much of the “normal” tribute stuff, I want to post a video that is one of the most intimate of Lennon from YouTube. John sings as he runs his distorted electric guitar through a small amp, for Leadbelly’s “Rock Island Line, and Buddy Holly’s “Maybe Baby” and “Peggy Sue”. Sure, Yoko is sitting with him, but it’s all good; it’s a bit of footage that is more relaxed than professional, like much of their home movie material. But his playing is rock and roll beautiful – snarly, rough and reverential.
I was 14 when Lennon was shot. It was before I understood the power and uniqueness of the Beatles, and of Lennon’s wit and solo music output. I know now. I wonder what voice he would have carried forward, not just in music, but with human rights and the causes of those who need a voice. Maybe he was perceived as a radical, but he stood up for beliefs that were also important for many who needed him to speak, because they couldn’t be heard.
For me, that makes it more tragic than on that December night, when Howard Cosell announced to the world on Monday Night Football that John Lennon was dead.