What would John Lennon be doing on his 70th birthday?





Still feuding with McCartney? Still happily married to Yoko Ono? Leading a reformed Beatles?

John Lennon would have celebrated his 70th birthday this month had he not been shot by a nutter outside the Dakota building in New York. What would he be doing now if Mark Chapman hadn’t been on his doorstep? Still feuding with McCartney? Still happily married to Yoko Ono? Leading a reformed Beatles with Paul, Ringo and that unlovable Beatles wannabe, Noel Gallagher, taking George’s place on lead guitar?
Re-masters of Lennon’s solo albums have been released to mark the birthday that never was, as have the Beatles’ Red and Blue best-of sets, while a hideous John Lennon peace monument was unveiled in Liverpool.

It’s always seemed to me that Lennon was at his least persuasive when celebrating peace, and his song Imagine, with its fatuous hippy-dippy lyrics, strikes me as the nadir of his career. What I love about Lennon was his ability to convey bile, anger, regret and a moving sense of loss and hurt, much of it stemming from the death of his mother, Julia, when he was a teenager.
Finding myself in Liverpool the other day, I made a solitary Beatles pilgrimage. My first stop was the Cavern club, which has been rebuilt since the Beatles played there but is scrupulously based on the original – though, mercifully, it no longer stinks of sweat and Jeyes fluid as it did in the early Sixties.

A John Lennon lookalike was on stage, singing Beatles songs at five in the afternoon, and I particularly liked his take on Paul McCartney’s Yesterday, a number lambasted by Lennon in his bitter song, How Do You Sleep?

In Marcus Cahill ’s version, the mocking lyric goes: “Leprosy,/Suddenly I’m not half the man I used to be/ There are pieces falling out of me/Oh, leprosy came suddenly.”...


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