Bill Paul Presents: John Lennon
By Bill Paul
“20 40 60”
Over the past few days, I have seen a number of news articles spotlighting what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday. I have heard friends and family talking about, “What if he was still writing, recording and performing?” Facebook users have also feasted on the occasion through RIP comments, song lyrics as status updates or simply a sincere thought of recognition. Indeed, my own status update read “…well we all shine on…” for the day. It is satisfying to see people plugging in to this event in particular and music as a signpost of life in general. Where were you when…?
Ten years ago, I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland where a John Lennon retrospective had been installed called 20 40 60 in reference to 20 years since his death, 40 years of The Beatles and he would have turned 60 at the time. As I entered the first level of the exhibition, I was greeted by a white tube, no more than 7 feet high by 20 inches in diameter. There were several holes cut in to the tube at varying heights for people to peer in to. As I looked through my cut out, several other people were doing the same through theirs. We all had our vision redirected by mirrors, either upwards or downwards to the central object on display. There, in the middle hung a pair of eyeglasses, made of a yellowish tortoise shell and of a very familiar lens shape. My attention had been grabbed by both lapels. One of the lenses was broken, with pieces missing. No way, could this be? Blood spatterings. Shocking.
Yoko Ono had insisted if her husband was to be the focus of a show at the HoF then, according to the notes on this exhibit, all attendees would be given the opportunity to appreciate the violent end with which John met. She was convinced this fusion of artifact and artifice was the way to accomplish this goal.
Since that time, I have visited the HoF many times to see various other exhibits (there was a terrific Clash one a few years ago) however, only once have I seen the entire venue turned over to the works of a single artist. Once. Him.
Imagine if all you music lovers did not have these signposts available to you. Imagine if there were no soundtracks to your lives. How would you measure and recollect your experiences?
In addition to family and friends, this weekend, be thankful for music that matters to you.