To live is to constantly learn. Whatever the lesson is, each step and fall teaches us that standing in this world is not easy, and as we grow up, it becomes even more complicated. Bearing this in mind, imagine you’re a six-year-old Liverpudlian, and you’ve been forced to choose between staying at home with your mother or moving to New Zealand with your father. However, soon you’ll realize the choice won’t matter, for you’ll end up living with your uncle and aunt. In other words, imagine you’re in the shoes of little John Winston Lennon.
The emblematic long-haired musician with rounded glasses wasn’t always the prankster and sharp-witted singer we see in photos and videos of The Beatles. In fact, that smile and devil-may-care attitude was a mask which hid a boy who had experienced neglect from those who should have loved him the most.
“Part of me would like to be accepted by all facets of society and not be this loudmouthed lunatic musician. But I cannot be what I am not. Because of my attitude, all the other boys’ parents, including Paul’s father, would say, “Keep away from him.” The parents instinctively recognized what I was, which was a troublemaker, meaning I did not conform and I would influence their kids, which I did.”
This wayward boy, a faithful Elvis fan, knew how to take channel his energy and emotions into music. The power of music allowed him to expose the sensibility he always tried to hide behind this image of a tough, unyielding young man. By shining a light on his insecurities, Lennon wrote the most beautiful declarations of love a man can make to Life.
Love to the mother
For years, John thought that his mother Julia had rejected and abandoned him with his aunt Mimi to start a new life away from him. She was a spirited and impulsive woman with a wicked sense of humor. Julia taught him how to play the banjo and shared priceless moments with him, until a car accident that took her life on July 15, 1958. John was traumatized by her death and he wrote several songs commemorating her, including “Julia” and “Mother.” She was in many ways, her son’s muse.
It was in 1966 that one of the most controversial love stories in rock history began. Lennon was visiting an art gallery where the artist Yoko Ono was exhibiting her work. One of the pieces was a sign on the wall that said “Hammer a Nail.” When the musician asked her if he could hammer a nail on the wall, the artist said that only if he paid five shillings. Lennon replied that “he would give her an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in.” Little did he know that the only thing he would nail would be the foundations of a relationship from which he would learn the true meaning of love.
Although the Lennon-Ono couple was synonymous of perfection, after the separation of The Beatles, John simply felt devastated, and, of course, he had his reasons to do so. He couldn’t picture a new path after witnessing the dismantling of a project that had made him more famous than Elvis. Music was his form of escapism and now he was cast adrift and had to find his way back through a new voice and style.
All of Lennon’s insecurities which had followed him since childhood came back, and fear of abandonment pushed him towards alcoholism. At the same time, Yoko distanced herself from him, after he requested a list of every man she had had a relationship with. This inspired him to write “Jealous Guy”; not as an apology, but as a way of telling his wife that he was a jealous person by nature and that he could hardly change it.
Love for the World
Very soon they found out that real love was about sharing as many things as possible. Then, both started to get involved with each other’s activities, creating projects like the Plastic Ono Band, and the legendary “Bed Peace” performance, the purpose of which was to spend two weeks in a hotel bed as a protest against the Vietnam War. It was a way to show that love can encompass all things if you open up.
Sean was John and Yoko’s child and his love for “darling, darling child” surpassed self-love. He taught him that “life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” The musician did the best he could to stop his child from experiencing pain, but at the same time, he was preparing him to overcome any obstacle.
Love to Life
After many ups and downs and a hectic lifestyle that resembled a typhoon, John found a moment of respite to realize that there’s no bigger love than the one for ourselves. By this time, he stepped away from music and the spotlight to see his son grow up. As he looked back at all the success and failures he had lived through, he realized how precious is the present.
John Lennon was an icon who taught us the many faces of love. He wasn’t the only dreamer around, but he kept the desires and hopes of many afloat with his songs. He reached an immortality few can ever achieve and it was thanks to love and the power he bequeathed to it.
Translated by María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards
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