John Lennon a Right-Winger? Imagine That!!

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

                  A week ago, Fred Seaman, a former personal assistant to John Lennon, divulged that the late ex-Beatle had turned Conservative in his final years, professing an admiration of Ronald Reagan among other things. In an interview from an upcoming film documentary, “Beatles Stories,” Seaman quotes Lennon as being disappointed by president Jimmy Carter and would have voted for Reagan were he eligible. (Reagan won the election only a month before Lennon was assassinated in December, 1980.)  It sounds hypocritical that the man who was on the presidential enemies list in the early 1970’s for his strongly anti-war and anti-establishment stances was only a few years later expressing admiration of someone who, as governor of California during the student uprisings in the late 60’s, made the comment “Well, if it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with.” My hatred for all things Reagan began with that quote, continued clear through his presidency, and has been replenished with all the “man who changed the world” accolades being heaped upon him on the centennial of his birth.  

                   That off my chest, you can’t really dismiss Lennon’s comments (though the credibility of Mr. Seaman’s allegations has been called into question) as naive or misguided. When you’re an icon, and especially a rich one, it’s hard to maintain all the values that you claim as dear to your heart. Money DOES change you, in spite of Jennifer Lopez’s proclamations that she was still “Jenny From The Block.” A National Lampoon comedy album in the early 1970’s featured a tune called “Magical Misery Tour,” featuring Tony Hendra doing a fine Lennon impression, while the lyrics were condensed from the angry interviews he’d given Rolling Stone only a year or two earlier. In one verse, Lennon/Hendra exclaims “I’m not your fucking parents and I’m sick of you knocking at me door with a fucking peace sign, …. fuck that, I don’t owe you fuckers anything and all I got to say is fuck you!!” So perhaps the man who at the same time was writing the over-rated hippie gibberish that became “Imagine” was throwing that out as a decoy for where he was really at. He was rich, and in spite of his well-cultivated peacenik image, he was never far removed from that Liverpudlian that liked to get pissed and have a little punch-up. Remember that incident at The Troubadour in 1974 in L.A.?

                    Even if it is true, and Lennon is looked on as the Dennis Miller or David Mamet of his era, he wouldn’t be the first. In 1972, James Brown shocked the black communities across the country when he came out in support of President Richard Nixon’s re-election despite most of the black voters supporting the liberal Democrat George McGovern. When challenged with the accusation of selling out, he claimed he was “selling in,” whatever the hell THAT meant. Black leaders said, “No, he HAS sold out, no matter what he says.” It was a bit of a moot point, as the man who in the 60’s and 70’s was Soul Brother Number One was, in the early 50’s, Inmate Number (whatever) in a Georgia prison, and as a convicted felon, not allowed to vote.  

                       It’s nice to see rockers put their money where their mouths are, and use some of their coffers to back their liberal beliefs, but then how much crusading do you really want from Bono, Sting, Bob Geldof, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, and a host of others? For most of them, those charitable donations are saying “See how much I care,” while also saying “I need a tax shelter.”  Do we really support liberal causes just because David Bowie does? I hope not.

                        And as we’ve said, this revelation about Lennon is nothing new. You never saw Mick Jagger publicly endorse much of anything that didn’t have his name on it, and he sure as hell didn’t put his money into any save-the-seals campaigns. Neil Young admitted voting for Reagan in 1984. Those fathers of punk, the ever-rebellious Ramones, counted at least two of them with strong conservative leanings. Sammy Hagar had nothing but disdain for most things liberal, and the less said about Ted Nugent, the better, except that I should mention that his music was mostly juvenile, hormonal, reconstituted chauvinist crap, forgetting his prattle about shooting a deer and eating it. Of course, in the Country music world, liberals are damn near ostracized. Hank Williams Jr. is even a big champion of Sarah Palin! It’s not hard to imagine that Hank’s daddy could have had the same leanings. 

                       I’m sure there are closet conservatives in all phases of show biz, but ultimately I just want the performers to sing, act, dance, tell jokes, whatever it is they do, and not spend so much time telling us what’s wrong with the world. At least Lennon’s “non-Marxist” views (I just couldn’t resist) were revealed 30 years after his death. It would have been great if he’d gone public with those platitudes, just to see all those hippie dreams shattered! Again, it shouldn’t be that surprising, given that the “Double Fantasy” album, his last to be released when he was alive, was mostly odes to home life, his marriage, and parenthood. Hardly music of rebellion.          

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