Lennon - much more than just a Beatle
Lennon was assassinated in New York in December 1980 - just three
months after the launch of Linguapress's Spectrum magazine.
This retrospective, one of the oldest items on the Linguapress online archive,
appeared in January 1981.
The circumstances of the murder of John Lennon are well enough known
for it to be unnecessary to repeat them now. It was ironic that John
of non-violence, should have died the way he did : though perhaps it
was ironic too that John should have chosen to live in New York, one of
the more violent cities in the USA.
"lt could only have happened in New York," said one stunned
after the news broke; that may or may not be true. That it did happen
in New York certainly was. "lt's a part of our youth that has died,"
said someone else ; and tributes to John Lennon came in from people all
over the world – from politicians, from musicians, from
writers, from Englishmen, from Frenchmen, from Japanese people. There
is probably no country in the world in which John's death did not come
as a shock to some people. US president Ronald Reagan described it as
"a great tragedy", and music radio-stations across the world played
Lennon's songs, some of them in a non-stop tribute to the former
had such a tremendous effect on the world of the nineteen-sixties and
AN ACCIDENTAL HERO
John Lennon never set
become a hero, nor the leader of a whole
generation. It came on him more by accident. He didn't want to be
thought of as the leader
of the Beatles — people forced it on him. "We're a
co-operative" he used to say : but in the early nineteen sixties that
was something people couldn't accept. "You must have a leader," they
answered, and so John became the chief Beatle. He deserved
position, indeed, since he was the founder
of the group, he wrote the words of most of their songs, and he was the
dynamic force behind the others. "I'm just a 'uman bein'
used to say.
What was it therefore which made the Beatles what
they were ? In short it was a combination of various things; their
music, the words of their songs, their attitude, and their appearance.
Right from the start they were different; their
music was good, and original; the words of their songs (Lennon's words)
were often different. At the start Lennon wrote about love and romance,
but it wasn't Hollywood love, it was 1960's everyday romance :
something with which millions of young people in the cities of Britain
and America, later Europe too, could identify. And in the nineteen
sixties, there were millions and millions of teenagers and twenties
just searching for something new to identify with. The expression "generation gap"
was just becoming
popular. The Beatles, led by Lennon, became the leaders of a new
Forced into the role of
leader, John Lennon accepted it, modestly. Even in 1970, he was still
saying "l'm just a ’uman bein' " : but by then he knew he was
a human being with influence; he knew that what he said or sung would
be repeated all over the world. His songs had usually said
right from the start; but in the period 1969-70, he began to say things
more consciously. He had always been a symbol of an alternative
life-style; but in the late 60s, his message became more overt
. He wrote
"Revolution", a song which classed him as peaceful, not violent,
revolutionary, then there was his famous "Give Peace a Chance", and the
more socially-conscious "Working-class Hero".
In fact, Lennon left the Beatles and the Beatles
split up because they had
"nothing more to say", whereas
he had a lot. The Lennon of the early seventies was the most
influential. He was "John Lennon", not just "a Beatle".
Shortly after the end of the Vietnam war, Lennon retired from
life. In a sense, the Beatles’ generation had managed, by
then, to change the face of western society. Attitudes had become much
more liberal, and pop music part of our culture.
Shortly before his death, John Lennon recorded
another album; and the day he died, he had been in the recording
studio. After five years of family life, he was returning to public
life. Was it a need for more money ? Certainly not. Lennon was
returning to life, perhaps, because he could see the world returning to
its old ways. Re-armament, a return to conservatism, international
tension, talk of war. The ex-leader of a generation which had
tried to give peace a
, could not sit back and watch things change for the
worse. Tragically, in the end, peace would not give him a chance.
supporter, promoter - Stunned
: shocked - former
: ex- , one-time - set
planned to - deserve
: merit - founder
: creator - ’uman
human being - gap
: separation, distance - overt
: frank, open - whereas
: when (opposition) - retired
: left, quit.
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missing modal verbs or auxiliaries in these extracts from the article
was ironic too that John _______ ________ chosen to live in
lt _________ only have happened in New York,
That _____ or ______ not be true.
co-operative" he __________ say :
In the early nineteen sixties that
was something people _______ accept.
"You _______ have a leader," they
He knew that what he said or sung ______ _______ repeated all over the
The Beatles’ generation ______ managed, by
then, to change the face of western society.
Tragically, in the end, peace _________ not give him a chance.
: see Modal verbs of obligation
and modals of possibility
of this resource is permitted