John Lennon – Liberal? Or Conservative?

beatlesI’m a Beatle baby.  I grew up with the Beatles.  In my pre-pube years I watched their movies, listened to their hit songs on the radio, saw them on Ed Sullivan, and tried to figure out why all the girls were screaming.  Like every other music-aware and girl-aware boy, I wanted to be a Beatle.   I just couldn’t decide which one.

At first I thought being a British Invasion drummer would be the pinnacle of success. Here’s my story, a song I wrote and recorded a couple of years ago:

To this day I revere the Beatles (living and dead) – their magical songwriting skills, their charisma, their larger-than-life grip on pop culture, and their legendary worldview that grew beyond anything that could have been scripted.   John, Paul, George and Ringo set the tempo of the universe, both musically and socially.  They had the world by the ass.

Many of you who Rock with me On The Right Side might think that the long-haired, dope-smoking, guru-worshipping Beatles of the sixties were on the wrong side of political history.  How on Earth could conservative Tom still get such a big buzz when he hears “Baby, You Can Drive My Car”, or “Lady Madonna” ?

Well, to tell you the truth, I never really tried to extract any deep message.  Nor did you.  Much of their lyrical message was nonsense.

I am the Egg Man! They are the Egg Men! I am the Walrus! Goo Goo, Goo Joob!

Lennon and McCartney occasionally tried to convey an overtly political message.   Usually it was something basic, like “Give Peace A Chance.”  But let’s face it: they weren’t world leaders, they were relatively uneducated twenty-something kids who were getting a lot of attention. They had no clue what message would have positive results for their world and that of the future.

But they did have the world by the ass, and still do.  I still love to play and sing Beatle songs.  I plead guilty to the crime of passionately singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” to audiences of all persuasions, including Montana cowboys:

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Could there be a more liberal, “one world order” message than that?  I kind of hope that nobody really pays attention to those lyrics when I sing them.  Just enjoy the beautiful song.

But then I revel in Lennon’s totally conservative anthem “Revolution”, in which he proclaims:

You say you’ll change the constitution, well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution, well, you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?

Was John Lennon a liberal, or a conservative?  I don’t think he really cared.  He was just searching for reality.  For truth.  Hell, maybe he was so stoned most of the time he couldn’t tell the difference.  I suppose he stumbled onto wisdom and dreams from both sides, like many of us who try to make sense of the news today.

Anyway, thinking about Lennon, and the Beatles, and the huge philosophical and political differences between the left and the right today, it reminds me to . . . just keep an open mind.  Listen.  Think.  Teach.  Stay level.  And do your best to help make the world a better place for our kids and grandkids.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

But if you want money
For people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right?

ALL RIGHT!
RIP John Lennon

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