This Boy

Whatever the deficiencies of John Lennon’s politics, he made up for them in his music. There his cynicism alternated with his idealism and his idealism leavened his cynicism. And the team of Lennon/McCartney — as singers, songwriters, and instinctive harmonists — was of course the organic entity at the heart of the Beatles.
Today is the seventieth anniversary of John Lennon’s birth. Bring to mind any one of his tough, beautiful, moving songs — “Ask Me Why,” “There’s A Place,” “This Boy,” “Any Time at All,” “If I Fell,” “Yes It Is,” “In My Life,” “I’m Only Sleeping,” “And Your Bird Can Sing,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Julia,” “Across the Universe,” “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” (“Everybody loves you when you’re six foot in the ground”).

The Beatles quit performing live in 1966 but for one brief performance in January 1969. They went up to the rooftop of the Apple Building at 3 Savile Row to put on a concert that would provide a conclusion to the film “Let It Be.” Lennon’s “Don’t Let Me Down” was one (or two) of the highlights of the set. Paul McCartney supplied the harmony vocal and Billy Preston the piano accompaniment.
When the police turned up to close the show down, Lennon thanked the crowd that had assembled to hear them: “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.”

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