In addition to the new films (“Nowhere Boy” about his early, pre-Beatles days, and “LennonNYC,” the documentary of his New York years), and the memorial events taking place in Iceland and in Liverpool, John Lennon’s 70th birthday is being celebrated this Saturday with lots of unofficial events, and tons of merchandising.
There are now John Lennon remastered recordings, previously unreleased tracks, a John Lennon pen (jewel-encrusted and selling for over $25,000 – hard to imagine Lennon himself having anything good to say about that), several John Lennon guitars, and even, earlier this year, footage of him being used to sell Citroen cars in the UK.
As you might imagine, some of Lennon’s most ardent fans are unhappy with all the merch and commerce using Lennon’s name and likeness. This is understandable, since Lennon isn’t here to okay these things, or to put them down with a flash of his cold wit. But it’s important to remember that John Lennon was in fact a guy with a generous amount of quirks and flaws, and who occasionally made dumb decisions like any of the rest of us. In fact, that was one of Lennon’s most endearing qualities – he was so forthcoming about is own neuroses and insecurities, both in interviews and sometimes in his songs.
He spent much of the 70s trying to escape from the confining glare of global fame, and to find a way to live a somewhat “normal” life, in a city that was big enough to occasionally allow him to “hide in plain sight,” as they say. So if he were with us to mark his 70th birthday on Saturday, he might be less upset about all the merchandising around him and more upset that his image has, almost inevitably since his murder, become that of some kind of philosopher-saint.
And somewhere, I bet John Lennon is definitely fed up with people saying, “if he were her with us now, he would…”
How will you remember John Lennon on his 70th birthday Saturday? Leave a comment.