Most inane news item of the week tells us that John Lennon was a “closet Republican.” It’s alleged news like this that makes me want to turn off the Internet altogether and remove myself from the media whirl, retreating to the honesty of nature, and the information encoded in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. [Is there a mineral kingdom. Discuss.]
The source of the Lennon-as-Republican slander is someone you’ve never heard of, a “personal assistant” circa 1979 and 1980 who vouched for the notion that Lennon liked Reagan more than Carter. We are told that Lennon was embarrassed by the memory of his younger, idealistic, hippie self.
Um, who isn’t?
And let’s see, at age 40 Lennon could look back and see such shenanigans as the Bed In For Peace. Yeah that probably furrowed his brow. The Two Virgins album. “Mr. Moonlight.” There were some cringe-inducing memories, no doubt.
“Run for your life if you can, little girl. Hide your head in the sand, little girl...” Terrible. What was he thinking.
So he grew up and reached the brink of middle age and questioned some of his younger, radical politics. This strikes me as a sign of a person with a working brain. If at the age of 40 you haven’t changed your mind about some of the stuff you believed at 30 then you haven’t been thinking. (Weirdly, however, at 50 I realize I haven’t had a new idea in 10 years.)
He could not have been a “closet Republican” because he was, to use the technical term, British. I doubt he was a closet Tory, although all British rock stars hated the confiscatory income taxes and tended to live anywhere but in their home country.
Lennon was a contrarian. He was a barrier-breaker and innovator and very much an ambitious musician. From an early age, in the humblest of Liverpool and Hamburg nightclubs, he envisioned his little band of rockers as the best in the world. And then he and his mates kept reinventing themselves. They kept breaking their own formulas. So of course when he reached 40 Lennon was going to take issue with his younger self. That’s how he (rocked and) rolled.