The Corner

Fool Comes Down from Hill

If you take his personal assistant’s word for it, John Lennon was a closet Republican who supported Reagan at the time of his death:

In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn’t the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.

He says, “John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.

“He’d met Reagan back, I think, in the 70s at some sporting event… Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young (peace) demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that… He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me.

“I also saw John embark in some really brutal arguments with my uncle, who’s an old-time communist… He enjoyed really provoking my uncle… Maybe he was being provocative… but it was pretty obvious to me he had moved away from his earlier radicalism.

“He was a very different person back in 1979 and 80 than he’d been when he wrote Imagine. By 1979 he looked back on that guy and was embarrassed by that guy’s naivete.”

Since the existence of a stray B minor in Tom Petty’s “American Girl” inspired a number of angry e-mails to be sent my way yesterday (don’t ask), I can only imagine what opining on Lennon will do. But I think it’s non-controversial among conservatives — and indeed all men of good sense — that “Imagine” is the most politically naive song ever written, so bad that I can’t, as I usually can, mentally separate its lyrics from its otherwise beautiful melody. Then there was Lennon and Yoko’s oft-repeated line “War is over, if you want it”, which displays an ignorance not only of human nature but of the metaphysics of action.* It’s cheering to hear he was beginning to see the light before his untimely end.

*I say this even though a shocking number of my favorite Beatles songs are Lennon or primarily-Lennon compositions (“Don’t Let Me Down”, “Hide Your Love Away”, “In My Life”).  But if you ask me what kind of guy I am, I’d say I’m a Paul Guy.** He was far more prolific than Lennon, especially in the last years of the Beatles, and unlike Lennon he had a truly big voice. His lyrics often weren’t as thoughtful or affecting as those of Lennon, but then they also weren’t as self-indulgent and pseudo-intellectual. I recall Lennon saying in an interview somewhere that McCartney was ‘We hope you will enjoy the show’ while he was ‘I heard the news today, oh boy’. That’s elegant.

**Harrison’s was pound-for-pound in the same league, if not at quite the same level, as either McCartney or Lennon. Pound for pound.

Daniel Foster — Daniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

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