Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"If he wants one...he can have it"











August 11, 1966: Astor Towers Hotel, Chicago

Dogged with controversy throughout the year, the Beatles faced their greatest challenge yet upon reaching the United States for the North American leg of their 1966 tour. The story surrounding what has been termed the "Bigger than Jesus" controversy is well known. The southern U.S. states' seething, intolerant reaction to Lennon's statement is reminiscent of the outrage Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks faced in recent years regarding a small statement made about Bush. How little things have changed. As Paul astutely observed during the conference, "I thought everyone here (the U.S.) believed in freedom of speech." If only that were the case...

Watching this footage, and other press conferences from this time, shows John in a light rarely seen before. I think this horrible incident deeply affected him for years to come--though he never retreated from speaking his mind in even in the face of ridicule and FBI surveillance! Something in his eyes reveals his resilience, his determination, and his pain as well. His face seems weary, yet a little hardened during the conference. He knows his attempts to explain his statement will fall on many deaf ears. It seems like that chip on his shoulder became larger. (Listen to the words of "Isolation", one of his stark, moving tracks from POB, for an illustration.)

In an ideal world, every person would open his or her hearts and minds to debate and discussion without resorting to hatred. Watching those bonfires, hearing the grand wizard of the KKK spew his venom---John must have been completely horrified. As he stated, he never meant to create another pocket of hatred in the world. In my mind, those people were exemplifying the hypocrisy John was pointing out in his criticism of organized religion. His "apology" was more of a clarification than a retraction.

John was the first outspoken pop star to express his thoughts in an articulate fashion, regardless of the fall-out he would face later. He used his fame, money, and influence to bring awareness to issues of peace, social justice and freedom world-wide. And that's just another reason why I love John Lennon now and forever....

Coming up: More scans of random Beautiful Johnny photos...

4 comments:

Helder Sanches said...

Hi,

I’d like to invite you to participate in my first group writing Project about the Beatles – The Beatles Top-Ten Moments. Please check the following post on my blog to understand what I’m talking about: http://www.thebeatlesworld.com/2006/08/17/33/

I’m sure this will be fun for every Beatles lover. I hope you join the project.

Thanks,

Helder Sanches

watercarrier said...

there was a quality in lennons look and the sound of his voice , the movement of his hands which was terribly frightening. "it was wrong , or was taken wrong" was the key quote for me , the rest was just bullshit. that quote was repeated in 'revolution' "when you talk about destruction , dont you know that you can count me out , in". when lennon faced these crossroads of personal conviction vs public responsibility , he first chose to appease the established status quo and then immediately contradicted it for the benefit of those who were listening to the truth of his words. it reminds me of another saying , "those who fight & run away , live to fight another day". the brutal tragedy of lennons life is that his fighting days were numbered. "or was taken wrong" is an allegation , an accusation levelled upon the stupidity of prejudice , hypocracy & lack of faith in the christian community.
"you can count me in" is the announcement that the behavior of those in power warranted their removal at a cost of revolution & that he was brave enough to proclaim it on the world stage & defend it with action.
thousands of saints , martyrs & political activists have been assasinated throughout history , for much less.

Spurs Dork said...

I've never seen the full press conference... I should look into that. Thanks for the caps!

Christine said...

Thank you for the Brians. :)