Interesting article here, making the claim that liberal icon John Lennon was, gasp, a Republican.
I don’t lend much validity to the claim, especially because it comes from one of the many vampiric hangers-on that tell outlandish stories about Lennon. As the article notes, the accuser in question was convicted of stealing Lennon’s possessions.
It’s not beyond reason to think that someone with those credentials might also be hungry for the shallow attention that audacious claims bring.
However, the concept is not instantly dismissible.
Music is historically littered with complicated personalities; Lennon holds supremacy in this regard. He was a child of divorce, a wife beater, a self-righteous activist, a negligent father, an adulterer, an arrogant jerk, a transcendental meditator,a drug addict, a primal screamer, an insecure modern-man, a philanthropic rich-man, a violent drunk, Nixon enemy, rock ‘n roll recluse, naive idealist, and proud house-husband.
Those are just the documented traits of his personality; he is also claimed to be a closeted bisexual with lingering Oedipal fantasies, a bi-polar schizophrenic with dyslexia, and a murderer.
Lennon’s music was correspondingly eclectic: he wrote pop, folk, rock ‘n roll, unlistenable noise, sound collages, blues, psychadelia, reggae and soft rock. It was angry, sad, celebratory, hopeful, cynical, abstract, and pragmatic.
Lennon had a strong personality, but he was also someone who could be pushed, and conversely push himself, into radically different behaviors, personas, and philosophies. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that he was trying a ride on the elephant to see how it felt.
The bigger question is why do people care?
The fact that this story even saw the light is a symptom of a world that is violently ill with polarity and rigid, black-and-white thinking. It’s more an indicator of the fractured political atmosphere than a piece of noteworthy news. The story gave me pause, but really, that’s more a betrayal of my own subconscious acceptance of invisible lines and arbitrary rules than a testament to its merit.
Lennon was an advocate for peace and many other fashionably liberal causes. He campaigned for civil rights, feminism, marijuana reform, free speech, and general counter-culture trouble-making. While none of these are common platforms of the Republican party, they don’t inherently contradict its central beliefs, small government and less taxes.
The self-professed “working-class hero” was the beneficiary of calculated investments and business deals that were far more Wall Street than Haight-Ashbury. The posthumous cash-ins bearing his name are shining examples of capitalistic supply and demand; you can get away with putting out a lot of sub-par bullshit if people will buy it.
Lennon could have been a Republican; he very well might have been “fiscally conservative, socially liberal.”
Let us not confine our beliefs to the party-lines that make modern politics comically depressing. It’s possible subscribe to specific Republican ideals without xeroxing Anne Coultier’s talking points or rhapsodizing with Fred Phelps. It’s possible to be a creative genius and a Republican.
….It’s also unlikely that the story is true. Lennon’s final interviews seemed to show a man who was more infatuated with New-Age practices than Reganomics. Lennon embracing Republican politics is not as outrageous as the litany of other traits that people have tried to pin on him over the years; I nonetheless doubt the validity of the claim.
I also couldn’t care less. I always found Lennon’s political songs to be bland and tiresome, oftentimes sounding more like substance-free slogans set to music than songs. I’m a proud bleeding-heart, but the ideals my favorite artists embrace mean little to me unless they directly or indirectly profit from discriminatory or hateful ideals, suffer from an astonishing lack of personal integrity or both.
When I was in high school, my history teacher ran for a position as a state representative with the slogan “People Before Politics.” That typifies how I feel about most things in life, specifically art. Despite his best efforts, Lennon was no politician; he was an artist. He was always at his best when he was personal, not political. “Revolution” is not an anthem of rebellion, but a contemplative and confused meditation on the politics of the time. “Working Class Hero” is more about narrative than rhetoric. “God” provides no divine answers except the sanctity of individuality.
For me, that’s Lennon at his best: as a poet, not a prophet. His political leanings are inconsequential to me; his knack for illuminating intense emotions, good and bad, is what makes him one of my favorite artists.
I leave you with the following, one of my favorite Lennon compositions, an anthem devoid of politics and rife with hope, a song that’s personal and not political. Just how music should be.