Previous visitors to this site will be excused if their first guess was that this post is about Lennon the dictator and the spread of his so-called “communism” into the U.S..  Lucky for all of us, it’s not.  This is about Lennon the former Beatle.  Actually, it’s not even so much that, as it’s a review of a well written and very well researched book about the former Beatle.  More bellow the fold. 

 

 Geoffrey Giuliano’s Lennon in America: 1971-1980, Based in Part on the Lost Lennon Diaries is worth the read if you’re into reading musician biographies.  Now, Giuliano has not written a book that tells us about John Lennon’s childhood comforts and difficulties; nor is this a book that spends much if any time examining the rise and eventual break-up of the most popular rock n’ roll band in history.  It is through years of exaustive research, including interviews with those closest to John as well as unprecidented access to Lennon’s personal diaries, that Giuliano manages to write a book which thoroughly examines what John’s life in America was like in the years that followed the break-up of the Beatles.

As it were, this book is decidedly not for you if you’re not a Lennon fan.  It may have some interest for the general Beatle fanatic, but at the same time, Giuliano does on occasion subtly pick-up a bit of John’s contempt for Paul McCartny (a feud that was in fact quite complex, as the author shows).  Lennon went through fairly manic swings; and to this, his relationship with Paul is a telling one: at times John simply despised Paul, Paul’s work, Paul’s music, Paul’s politic… and then at a whim would want to reach-out to his former band-mate, dreaming of making music together, of being close friends who could just sit around and hand out and have fun. 

Along with all this, Giuliano does a great job of bringing us right into Lennon’s life: his daily routines, his weaknesses, his confusion.  John, above all else, became almost crippled as a result of his pot habit.  The 1970’s were in fact little more than a continuing series of John smoking copious amounts of pot everyday, loafing around and feeling depressed about his life, about the sad state of our world, and doing little else.  From here he’d end up in a fight with Yoko, and subsequently he’d leave their New York apartment (usually at her behest) for a few weeks or months to “take a break” in L.A., London, or some other such place.  From here, he’d often begin writing again and would take a turn of creative output, would come crawling back to Yoko, and be back in New York to begin the whole process over again.  While the FBI’s harassment of John has become well known fact, John’s endless pot smoking led him to take on a demeanor of pure paranoia, often requiring any excursion outside of their apartment to take two or three times as long as necessary because of John’s constant attempts to confuse the Federal agents who were trailing him.

But in the end, Giuliano’s book is incredibly well researched, informative, and thorough.  If, like me, you’re a fan of John’s, then this might be a book you should consider picking up.  Sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, but nonetheless very informative and fascinating, Lennon in America provides an invaluable glimpse into the life of a man who achieved adoration and support from millions of people the world over, and who likewise became a mini-obsession for a corrupt and criminal president.  I can’t help but wonder how things would be different today if even a few musicians and celebrities of his prominence had the guts and the intelligence to believe in the possibilities that John did, and to speak and act out in hopes of achieving those possibilities.

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