Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Unwanted Legacy

Visiting Manhattan this week (& staying half a mile north of the Dakota Building), I was struck by the different perception of John Lennon in what became his adopted city. Whereas the Lennon legacy in Liverpool is of a piece with the frankly nauseous nostalgia orgy over The Beatles, the take of many in New York seems to be a little more contemporary, placing him in the context of his influence on current acts.

Hoping that the city council, local media, etc. take a leaf out of New York's book is too much to ask. There's far too much money to be made from dwelling obsessively on The Fabs in their early incarnation for the benefit of the tourists & their credit cards.

During my stay in the city I read the previously unpublished interview Lennon gave to Rolling Stone a few days before his death (there isn't an online link yet, sadly). What came across clearly was Lennon's distaste for what, alas, he became in the eyes of many:

"These critics with the illusions they've created about artists -- it's like idol worship. Like those little kids in Liverpool who only liked us when we were in Liverpool -- a lot of them dropped us because we got big in Manchester, right? They thought we'd sold out. Then the English got upset because we got big in...what the hell is it? They only like people when they're on the way up, and when they're up there, they've got nothing else to do but shit on them. I cannot be on the way up again. What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean. I'm not interested in being a dead fucking hero...So forget 'em, forget 'em."

You won't find that quote republished in the Oldham Echo.

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