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Remembering “The Smart Beatle”

By: Luiz Alberto
Hulton Archive

John Lennon left us all those years ago.

Thirty-two years ago tomorrow, to be exact.

Brilliant, witty, reflective, outspoken, sarcastic, keenly observant, a lover and promoter of peace but often combative and difficult, John was a complex character to be sure.

A friend once met him sometime in the 70′s in the streets of the city he loved so much (New York, of course) and approached him, saying hello and that she was a fan.

He muttered something rude, and left my then-fragile friend’s ego pretty hurt. No surprise that she still remembers that encounter vividly, particularly because she was born on December 8th, the day he would be shot just a few years later.

At johnlennon.com:

“If John Lennon had only been one of the four members of the Beatles, his artistic immortality would already have been assured….he brought a penetrating intelligence and a stinging wit both to the band’s music and its self-presentation. But in such songs as “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” “Rain” and “In My Life,” he also marshaled gorgeous melodies to evoke a sophisticated, dreamlike world-weariness well beyond his years. Such work suggested not merely a profound musical and literary sensibility – a genius, in short — but a vision of life that was simultaneously reflective, utopian and poignantly realistic.”

He went on after the Beatles, of course, to solo work and work with his wife, and just as he was making a comeback after his self-imposed seclusion as a househusband to raise his son, Sean, he was killed on December 8, 1980.

John said many things that so many of us resonated with, but this is one of my favorites:

“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.”

Thank you, John, for the music, the art, the words of wisdom, and the inspiration. Rest in the peace you so deeply wanted to see in the world.

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