8 December 2005

One of the anniversaries I always notice, that of John Lennon’s death. Wading among the eulogies, it’s fairly clear that he wouldn’t be revered in the same way if he had lived. There would be as many unremarked and unremarkable John Lennon albums as there are Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr ones. But every now and then he would do something surprising and exciting. I think what Lennon did well was to be a catalyst to innovation, and that mostly during the Beatles period. When it came down to just recording songs with session musicians he was often quite ordinary, with only his excellent voice raising the stakes a little. So I still mourn him and miss his presence on the world scene, but I don’t expect he would still be at the top of his game if he were around now.

Mark Chapman, on the other hand… I saw the end of the documentary about him, and it’s a stiff warning about the psychological dangers of narcissism (not, as one psychologist pointed out, schizophrenia): the driving, burning need to ‘be somebody’. Probably the young Lennon had the same need, but Chapman had no talent to channel it through, and no encouragement to do so. Now he sits in his cell pouring out religious cant about how he’s found God (he should turn him in, there might be a reward) and been forgiven, without any appreciation of the harm he did to Lennon’s family, let alone his fans. It’s all about Mark. Reading again the thread on the OOTB board about ‘making it‘ chimes in with this – the need to ‘be somebody’ can be devastating if you haven’t already found someone real to be before you start  ‘being somebody’.

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