The thought could blow one’s mind: John Lennon would have turned 70 years old today!!! Google UK kicked off the birthday celebration yesterday with a video “doodle” to a Lennon soundtrack. Here in NYC, fans from all over the world will come together over John at Strawberry Fields in Central Park. Indeed, those of us who grew up with the Beatles have seen so many birthdays (including our own) go down that we require such lyrical celebrations to alleviate our own dread of looming mortality.

John was cool above and beyond his time; rebellious before rebelliousness became commonplace. I was only 10 when Beatlemania struck the world in 1964, but even then I sensed that John was unique. Whereas Paul McCartney was cordial, George Harrison pensive and Ringo Starr mirthful, Lennon possessed the same qualities but with a certain degree of affable defiance and stylish cynicism that assuaged whatever angst I was experiencing at the time…and long after.  In a way, he was the James Dean of the Sixties: a rebel with a cause because the era was so electrifyingly colored with causes for all reasons and for all seasons.

Nevertheless, what would have happened if John Lennon hadn’t been killed 30 years ago? How would he have been celebrated today? I’d venture to guess as follows: in the same way that Ringo was celebrated when he turned 70 and how Paul will be celebrated when he enters upon his septuagenarian phase (George, who died nine years ago, is somewhat forgotten).

Our legends often gain a more legendary status when they’re martyred; their uniqueness even more fondly recalled because our own buried youth appears reflected within the glow.

Happy Birthday, John… may there be many, many more.


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