The Passing Of John Lennon:
by R.E. Prindle
This magic moment
So different and so new
Was like any other
Until there was you.
To understand the sixties one as to go back in time to the foundation of Astrology. In Time beyond Ancient Astrology and Astronomy were one. The very old gods and the sky were one. It was only when science, a more clear understanding of 'creation', if you will, removed the sky from the gods' purview that Astronomy and Astrology separated. Astrology in those days had meaning that is not apparent today when the sky is just part of our natural surroundings; I would say to the uninitiated except for the fact that initiation disappeared with the old priesthood of the gods.
The Zodiac was divided into twelve periods of roughly 2000 years each which formed the Great Year. The periods were called Ages with each Age having its own avatars. The avatars of the current Piscean Age have been Jesus the Christ and for the first thousand years Artemis or Diana and for the succeeding thousand years Mother Mary. Sometime within a few hundred years near the end of an Age a new avatar begins to form.
The first intimation of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius that I am aware of occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century. While not the first, the chief proponent seems to have been Edgar Rice Burroughs and his creation, Tarzan The Ape Man. Not one to be dogmatic Burroughs left his intent open only to, dare I use the word again, the initiated.
Tarzan is timeless, he represents the past, being associated with the Atlanteans and the range of evolution, the present and, as the exemplar of the perfect man, the future. While rejecting organized religion Burroughs also rejected the Piscean avatar, Jesus The Christ in favor of the coming man-god. Thus the coming man-god must be a projection of the Aquarian avatar. Tarzan, a magnificent specimen is both physically and mentally the perfect man and hence representative of the future Aquarian man-god. Do not confuse the movie Tarzan with the literary creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The longing then for a new messiah had been developing for half a century, at least, when circumstances came together for the appearance of a new avatar pointing toward the Age of Aquarius. This manifestation appeared on the stage of Ed Sullivan in of all places, New York City. It was the Tupelo Mississippi Flash himself, Elvis Presley. In that brief magic moment on Sullivan's stage he revealed himself and was recognized by his people.
Interestingly the appearance on 10/9 coincided with the birthday of John Lennon.
In that moment Presley's future was cast. Whether the old order recognized who he was they knew how he was perceived and made every effort to slander, denigrate and destroy him short of actual murder. All to no avail. They might have been able to kill him, murder him, but he was inviolable to any defamation. It made no difference that they ridiculed him in a couple dozen fatuous films -- he was the man-god. People endured his humiliations with bowed heads and resentful miens.
From him succeeding generations have taken their guidance. The first awe struck generation took the stage in direct emulation of him. While many had better songs (Gene Vincent's Be-Bop-A-Lula) none of the generation were anointed, thereby developing a devoting following in the magnitude of Presley.
But Elvis was not the last word, but the first in what will be a procession. While the American Pharisees persecuted and scattered the faithful a new, younger generation was growing up in Elvis' shadow. Their epiphany, that Magic Moment, would take place on the same Ed Sullivan stage in that same strange city of destiny, NYC, nine years later.
The gestation of this second manifestation of the godhead would take place in Liverpool, England. Inspired by Elvis Presley four young men of the second manifestation would be filtered through the persona of a young Scottish musician named Lonnie Donegan.
The Geat Lonnie Donegan
When the settlers from the British Isles settled America they brought their musical traditions with them, most prominently to the Southern tier of States. Thus both the White and Black musical traditions of America stem from essentially the Celtic peoples. In the mid-fifties Donegan brought this music in the form of American Folk back to England in a form he named Skiffle Music. It swept England and its youth up being combined with Presley. Donegan added a ferocious beat to the music that evolved into the form termed the Big Beat. Thus the British musicians were schooled in American music as it had evolved from their own.
Now, the Magic Moment requires the man who has been prepared for the moment. If all goes right he is equal to his destiny, if not the moment fails.
While Presley was the man, the second avaar would be four men seemingly acting as one. The four men seemed to represent four archetypal personalities as in the four faces of the godhead. Those of us who didn't 'get' them, of which I was one, were mystified by their apotheosis.
Just as Elvis had his unique preparation so did this fabulous foursome. Raised as four ordinary kids from varying levels of poverty and varying psychological backgrounds they were united by the music of Presley and Donegan.
They began a grueling and astonishing apprenticeship in the red light district of Hamburg, Germany. Unable to speak German they were thus compelled to rely on each other for companionship which created a unique bond. They were required to be on stage for up to twelve hours at a stretch for weeks at a time, thus honing their musical skills apparently to perfection.
Thus the four aspects of humanity, one might say, were placed in a unique situation creating a unique combination of personalities seemingly of one. In those circumstances they were forced to be able to communicate instantly with their audience night after night. Valuable training.
Returning to Liverpool with their abilities seemingly uniquely developed they were adrift with no direction home and no other future than earning their livelihoods as best they might. But then, as by a miracle, a man appeared with no managerial experience who said he could take them to the top. Amazingly he got them launched. Even more astonishing they were assigned to perhaps the only record producer in the world who could bring out their unique talents. Thus this Fab Foursome took their home British Isles by storm, succeeding as no other had succeeded before them but their Magic Moment, that lunge for the Golden Ring, had not yet arrived.
The Magic Moment was awaiting them in NYC. A big jetliner brought the foursome to America's shores in January of 1964 to appear on the Ed Sullivan show, where they were to stand in Elvis' footsteps so to speak. The difference in presentation between the two is interesting. With Elvis, he and his backing trio were standing in front of the drawn curtains on the edge of the stage, no set, his three band members were huddled behind him, while the guitar player is turned sideways not even facing the audience. Presley is directly in front of them cavorting on a minuscule part of the stage. Mort Sahl would do his standup routine a few years later in the same manner with newspaper as a prop.
In contrast the Beatles were given an open stage with decor behind them, while the group was spaced dramatically and attractively. A very positive image which from long experience they knew how to take advantage of. But the appearance on the Sullivan stage merely confirmed their Magic Moment, placing it indelibly in the American psyche.
The actual Magic Moment occurred when the Beatles announced themselves on the tarmac. Gods descending from the skies. For whatever reason there were thousands of screaming girls awaiting them and a battery of newsmen and photographers. Some say the girls were bussed in, it isn't unlikely that the astute promotion men of Capitol had a hand in the arrangements, but on the receiving end of the tube it looked genuine. Mystifying but genuine.
Posed a bunch of questions by the news cameras all four Beatles fielded them with aplomb, the cheekiest and most confident acting was John Lennon himself. All four personalities established themselves at that time as one -- the Beatles. In that little flash of time the role of the Beatles was established for all time.
While each individual Beatle was adored for the face of mankind he presented, each had only an identity as an aspect of the Beatles. When they split they became merely humans rising or falling based solely on the musical merits. Of the four, Lennon adopted the messianic mantle, was accorded it, and took it when he left. In one sense the Magic Moment had been his.
There would be argument about when the Beatles began to break up over the years, but the when was coincidental with their annunciation. John Lennon was the weak link in the chain. Having now won what he had been struggling for for so long John Lennon discovered he wasn't worthy. Incredibly he wrote, and the Beatles recorded his song, I'm A Loser. He was a loser, not the winner he appeared. Now conflicted, he tried to both accept and reject the role of 'messiah.' He was well on his way to losing the role two short years later in 1966.
The course of his career was affected by two people, Bob Dylan in 1964 and Yoko Ono in 1966. Historical ifs are difficult. It seems impossible that Bob Dylan's career would have been possible without the overwhelming success of the Beatles. Dylan lacked commercial appeal then as he does now. He appealed to a minority audience -- as opposed to the majority audience of the Beatles. Dylan lacked universal appeal then as he does now.
While the Beatles were one as a group they were two as the songwriting team of Lennon-McCartney. Since 1962 they had been turning out a steady stream of million sellers both for their own use and that of others. They were catchy tunes in the Tin Pan Alley manner that could be sung and whistled, but very introspective at the same time. Dylan on the other hand wrote tortured introspective lyrics that resisted anything close to whistling or a Mitch Miller singalong.
Dylan considered his stuff amazingly thoughtful and profound. He apparently put himself in the same class as Elliot and Pound. He fooled most of his audience for a long time, too. The Beatles, for whatever reason, became the top news story of the day; for months they either were, or seemed to be, on the news every night. Seriously, one had to ask: What’s Going On?
Just as mysteriously Dylan began getting the same treatment. Now, the Beatles were selling unprecedented millions of records on both sides of the Atlantic, at one time occupying the top five spots of the Top 10. Dylan was doing diddly squat with his tortured lyrics. He wasn’t selling records in any quantities, while having essentially a cult following. Now, mysteriously he began to be given the same treatment as the Beatles. Time Magazine sent a reporter to interview him on camera. Dylan imitated the Beatles by giving smart ass answers. The Time reporter took his jibes seriously. Sitting out in front of the tube my eyebrows shot up. What is this? The rest of the world went wild in their applause of the Beatles' and Dylan's cheekiness. God, they were giving the finger to the Greatest Generation. The latter may have crushed Elvis, but these boys were getting their own back.
Maybe Dylan got the attention because he was the only American act available. To balance the relative status of Britain and the US, perhaps in the emerging racial politics of the time he was offered as Jewish competition to the great goy champions of Elvis and the Beatles. He entered the Beatles' life in August of '64 when the Jewish journalist Al Aronowitz took it upon himself to introduce him to the four-in-one. The meeting was more momentous for the Beatles than Dylan.
The story goes that Dylan introduced the boys to marijuana at that meeting. More importantly he lectured Lennon-McCartney on songwriting. Dylan told them in effect that they should stop writing hit songs and write the pretentious crap he did. Now, consider, the Beatles were incredibly successful at what they wrote, Dylan couldn't do what they did and what he did do couldn't compete in the marketplace with the Beatles. I mean, they should have been lecturing him, but they didn't, while accepting his viewpoint at the same time. They listened to the little twerp and fell under his infuence to begin trying to imitate him.
The imitation was not very good, but as the current avatar of the messiah the Beatles were indestructible. As the leader, for whatever reason, John Lennon was accorded the role of messianic leader, a role that he took quite seriously.
While the Beatles had always used various pill forms of speed or amphetamines, after Dylan's introduction to pot they quickly expanded their repertoire to include Acid or LSD. The other three seem not to have been so conflicted in their personalities, not becoming as drug dependent as Lennon. He claims perhaps with exaggeration, perhaps not, to have taken LSD thousands of times in the next few years. Under the influence of LSD his personality already distressed by the transition from failure to success disintegrated completely. As he says, he lost his ego totally.
If so, adrift, he was open to a strongly directed personality to manage his. This personality appeared in 1966 in the person of Yoko Ono. She quickly commandeered his personality, displacing his British wife, Cynthia. It would be two years before Lennon divorced Cynthia but he left her a year earlier.
Since signing with Brian Epstein as their manager the Beatles had had an ideal artists arrangement. Trusting him, they left the business details to him, which allowed them full time to devote to their creative efforts. If they needed money they asked for it while all business details such as negotiations, titles and even check writing were handled by Epstein so that the Beatles had no worldly business experience. In 1967 Epstein died.
With Brian gone the Beatles were left rudderless with no one they could trust to manage their corporate and personal finances. Forming Apple as their business alter ego they attempted to manage their affairs themselves resulting in a business regime of such dissolute ineptitude that it has been referred to as The Longest Weekend.
Having attached herself to Lennon, Yoko Ono now tried to insinuate herself into the group as the ego of John Lennon. Thus the group would have been comprised of McCartney, Harrison, Starr and Lennon-Ono. A clear impossibility, the Beatles would be dissolved. As the avatar of the sixties the era had no choice but to disappear along with them.
This was now the late sixties. The world as it had been , the world that gave birth to the Beatles c.1960 had all but disappeared. Blown away in the wind, so to speak. Just as the sixties called for the Beatles as the messiah of the period so it called forth its anti-messiah of satanism. In 1966 Time Magazine’s cover story was "Is God Dead?" A title that offended Bob Dylan who petulantly asked: How would you like to be talked about like that? Right.
In 1966 Roman Polansky began filming a movie titled Rosemary's Baby that actually portrayed the birth of Satan's child. The story took place in the future home of the Onos -- The Dakota Apartments. And then the Rolling Stones released their rather bizarre record, Their Satanic Majesty’s Request with its famous song Sympathy For The Devil. Right about then the Broadway musical Hair was staged that celebrated the Dawning Of The Age Of Aquarius. Synchronicity? Not a bit.
As the messiahs had abdicated it remained for the anti-messiahs, the Rolling Stones, to place the epitaph on the period which they did in 1969 at Altamont.
However, John Lennon, as the messianic figurehead, was rescued by Yoko Ono. As an unsuccessful performance artist now with Lennon's audience and financial clout to realize her wildest fantasies she, using Lennon, organized some of the most outrageous extravaganzas that catapulted she and Lennon onto the world stage playing messianic figures. The Bed-In was the most jaw dropping stunt since flag pole sitting.
Part III will consist of the career of the Ono-Lennons to John Lennon's death in 1980 and perhaps a little beyond. There's some really interesting stuff involving John Green and a possible associate, Sam Green. The latter is an interesting story.
John And Yoko
Lennon I | II | III
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