As an addled teenager, I studied political philosophy at the feet of John Lennon. Whatever the deficiencies of his politics, he made up for them in his music, where his cynicism alternated with and complicated his idealism. And the team of Lennon/McCartney — as singers, songwriters, and instinctive harmonists — was of course the organic entity that made the Beatles.
Today is the anniversary of John Lennon’s birth. Bring to mind any one of his tough, beautiful, moving songs — “This Boy,” “Any Time at All,” “If I Fell,” “Yes It Is,” “In My Life,” “I’m Only Sleeping,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Julia,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Number 9 Dream,” your own personal favorite. Recall the biting words of his “Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out”:
Nobody loves you when you’re old and grey
Nobody needs you when you’re upside down
Everybody’s hollerin’ ’bout their own birthday
Everybody loves you when you’re six foot in the ground.