Please note, this isn’t aimed at any one person.
Today, like October the 9th, sees people all over the internet mourning for John Lennon. I’m not going to say they shouldn’t (and they’d quite rightly ignore me if I did) — John Lennon deserves mourning.
But unfortunately, a lot of them seem to be mourning St John The Martyr, Who Died That We Might Have Peace, rather than the actual human being John Lennon. A lot of the posts, videos and so on seem to be about the most perfect human being who ever lived, who was too beautiful for this world and who thought only of love.
To my mind, this is actually horribly disrespectful of the man and his memory.
Lennon was, of course, always the first to mythologise himself — but he was also the first to tear that mythology down and destroy it.
Lennon was, in many ways, a fairly horrible human being. He regularly mocked the disabled on stage, made some arguably racist comments, was a terrible father to his first child, and was a violent thug who beat at least his first wife regularly.
There were only two saving graces that made up for that — his sincere desire to change, and his brutal honesty.
Those are the things that made his flaws forgivable — *everyone* does terrible things, not everyone tries to fix their own flaws — but they were also the things that made him the great artist he was. You can’t throw a stone in Liverpool without hitting someone with a good singing voice, a way with a melody, and an acerbic wit. But if you’ve only got those things, you’re Lee Mavers, you’re not John Lennon.
It’s Lennon’s awareness of his flaws, and his attempts to document and transcend them, that let him write In My Life, Jealous Guy, God, Working Class Hero, Strawberry Fields, I Am The Walrus, Happiness Is A Warm Gun and the rest. The erasure of that, in favour of a public image that seems closer to that of St Francis Of Assissi, seems to me to be a huge crime against his memory.
So rather than remember him as a martyr or an angel, I’m going to remember him like he is here, in what seems to be the only video of him on YouTube that *isn’t* made up of soft-focus shots of him looking saintly. As a man with a great voice, singing a very good song he wrote. In the end, that’s all he was — but that’s enough. We have enough saints, we need more singers.