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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Shining on in honor of John Lennon

Sixty-seven years ago today, John Lennon started laying down the tracks of his karmic record in Liverpool, England.

Known the world over for his membership in the fabricated four that were the Beatles, it was his solo work as writer, poet, musician and activist that proved more interesting to me. I have always admired Lennon's idealism and rebelliousness, which manifested themselves more and more as the collar of pop-star expectations choked his artistic and personal ambitions.

Ever willing to explore new sounds, philosophies and sources of inspiration, Lennon's extra-Beatle efforts reflect his adventurist spirit. He mixed politics with his art and became an outspoken member of the peace movement, which alienated some fans of his prior mop topped persona. It also incurred the wrath of the U.S. government, leading to a long struggle with the Department of Immigration, which tried to deport him.

Anti-war anthems such as Give Peace a Chance and Imagine challenged the day's military endeavors in the simplest of terms, becoming a mantra for change against a mistake that once seemed inescapable. His words certainly still resonate in our own time where we find the military industrial complex reinvigorated.

Sadly, Lennon, a man who so passionately sang for peace, love and understanding met with an ironic, violent end — shot by a mentally unstable Mark David Chapman on Dec. 8, 1980. I still recall Howard Cosell's announcement of the tragic slaying during the evening's Monday Night Football telecast. I also remember sitting up as late as I could listening to a static-filled radio broadcast of his biggest hits.

Selecting a single favorite track of Lennon's to highlight is a difficult choice for me. There are some really amazing videos of songs such as Working Class Hero and Mother, as well as the above mentioned calls for peace, on the Official John Lennon Website. Because of the spacey mood I've been in of late, I decided on Instant Karma. A cosmic wake-up call, it both reminds each of us of our innate ability to cast our light into the world, and castigates us for not yet shining as brightly as we could.

Instant Karma

Instant karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead
What in the world you thinking of
Laughing in the face of love
What on earth you tryin’ to do
It’s up to you, yeah you!

Instant karma’s gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin’
Join the human race
How in the world you gonna see
Laughin’ at fools like me
Who in the hell d’you think you are
A super star
Well, right you are

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Ev’ryone come on

Instant karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you off your feet
Better recognize your brothers
Ev’ryone you meet
Why in the world are we here
Surely not to live in pain and fear
Why on earth are you there
When you’re ev’rywhere
Come and get your share

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
Come on and on and on on on
Yeah yeah, alright, uh huh, ah

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
On and on and on on and on

Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun

(Photo: John Rehearses Give Peace A Chance By Roy Kerwood)
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