#23: 1969, The Beatles, Come Together

by Ray_North on December 8, 2010


December 8th 1980 – Mark fucking Chapman! Possibly the stupidest, most self-indulgent and nonsensical assassination of all time. I was ten but even then it seemed totally pointless to me. I had got into The Beatles that year after me and my mate watched an awful TV biopic of the Fab Four. We begged our parents to buy us guitars – my parents balked when they found out that an electric guitar from my mates’ mum’s catalogue also meant buying an amp!

In the Autumn of 1980, rumours were rife that The Beatles were about to reform – I didn’t know why they’d broken up in the first place, but the prospect excited me – then Mark fucking Chapman put paid to it with it’s own messed up ego and a gun.

The only thing that was achieved by John Lennon’s death at the age of forty was that it immortalised him: Lennon would never grow old and release his own equivalent of Frog Chorus; he would never dye his hair or make outrageous political statements or get himself involved in embarrassing affairs with inappropriate women. Lennon, in the time it took for Chapman to fire his gun, became even more of an icon, the stuff of myth and legend – every utterance poured over for its depth and significance, every story examined for it’s consequence. In the years since, Lennon has become a revered poet, artist, peacemaker and revolutionary.

He may have been those things – but first and foremost he was as a wonderful writer of pop songs – no group has ever, or will ever have a back catalogue like The Beatles – the songs they wrote are timeless, we all know the tunes, we all know the words, the harmonies and the beat. At the heart of this was his partnership with Paul McCartney – whatever McCartney’s future crimes against pop may have been, without him, Lennon’s music would not have been nearly as special. Together they managed to conjure up unforgettable pop songs. The years between 1962 and 1970 were by far his most productive period, after they split, there were only glimpses of that genius – that’s why I’ve chosen to mark the anniversary of his death with a Beatles song rather than one of his solo offerings of the 1970s.

I could have chosen any number of Beatle’s songs but I’ve gone for Come Together. Written by John, for me it epitomises his Scouse irreverence and sense of humour – I’ve been listening to it for years, but I have no idea what it’s about which is part of its charm, it is part of the reason that we love John Lennon, it’s one of the reasons I begged my parents to buy me a guitar. RIP John Lennon.

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