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"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing."

 

                                                                       ~Benjamin Franklin

 

The 60s and 70s have faded into today and the flower children and activists of those bygone decades are stumbling feet first into retirement. Yet, the soundtrack of those turbulent, magical times plays on—due to the timeless appeal of the music and songs penned by the English activist, songwriter, singer, and musician, John Lennon.

 

One doesn't have to venture far to find evidence that Lennon is as influential today as he was during his lifetime. In an issue of Teen Ink, Zaid Q.Hemet, who was not yet born during Lennon's lifetime, wrote: "John Lennon is my hero for many reasons. He took action against war and racism, and denounced oppression and violence. He fought for many things I believe in. I am also a huge fan of his music. His lyrics are meaningful and heartfelt, not shallow and repetitive like much of today’s music. 1"

 

Yet, at the time that Lennon was staging his anti-war "Bed-In" protests there were many citizens who viewed anti-war activists as treasonous, believing that they provided comfort and support to the enemy. From their perspective, Lennon was strictly a wealthy hippie troublemaker who had experimented with LSD.

 

Depending on whom you spoke to, Lennon was viewed as either a beloved martyr enduring ongoing harassment from the FBI and Richard Nixon—or, an eccentric celebrity seeking self-serving publicity. In "John Lennon vs. Bono: The death of the celebrity activist," William Easterly, a professor of economics at New York University, wrote: "Lennon was continuing a venerable tradition: the celebrity as a crusader against the wrongs committed by those in power. In the 19th century, the celebrity activists were not musicians but writers. Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and other authors loudly supported the abolitionist crusade against slavery. Harriet Beecher Stowe went further and wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin to boost the anti-slavery cause - a sort of 19th-century equivalent of "Imagine."2

 

Twenty-five years after his death, the public's opinion of Lennon remained mixed. When the BBC News asked its readers to submit critical opinions of Lennon's life and work, what they received was a mixed bag of assessments—ranging from "showed how the dream could be reality" to "overrated" and "man of extremes."

To read the assessments in their entirety, visit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4506610.stm 

 

Today, some musicians emulate Lennon's musician-activist tradition by participating in protest gatherings while others relegate his influence to craft. To read what Madonna, Melissa Etheridge, and other musicians said about Lennon's legacy, visit: John Lennon Continues to Influence, Inspire Artists.

 

Despite the passage of time, Lennon's musical and cultural authority is difficult, if not impossible, to ignore. What do you think? Are you influenced by Lennon's music, ideas, or political activism?

 

References

 

1. Zaid Q.Hemet. "John Lennon, Musician/Antiwar Activist." Teen Ink.

http://bit.ly/1hsrpHP

 

 

2. William Easterly. "John Lennon vs. Bono: The death of the celebrity activist." Washington Post. December 10, 2010.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/12/09/AR2010120904262.html

 

 

SOCIAL STUDIES - MUSIC HISTORY 101

Written by Rachelle Nones

Written by Rachelle Nones
this intriguing article highlights one of the most riveting Guitarist!

A prime example of Music as Social Activist.

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