Sour Notes | Letters | Chicago Reader

Sour Notes 

Thank you J.R. Jones for straightening me out about John Lennon [August 18]. For far too long I'd blindly admired Lennon as a singer, songwriter, and musician, but how radical of you, J.R., to refer to him merely as an entertainer! You nailed it, though; the guy really went Vegas when he started "retailing his grief" on albums like Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With the Lions.

You've done your readers a great favor, J.R., by holding your nose and reviewing two books "about" Lennon's private life, even as you reassure us that given the opportunity you wouldn't bother to touch his actual diaries yourself. (Thanks too for reprinting all their alleged delicious naughty bits!)

I admit it, over the years I've been too hopelessly caught up in fan worship of Lennon to ever stop to consider that his own fabulous rock star life might've been unhappy. Clearly your cool disposition and critical survey of the biographical literature hipped you to this insight.

Likewise, the irony never dawned on me that although Lennon made his mark as an introspective lyricist--starting as far back as "There's a Place" on Please Please Me and peaking in 1970 with the stark, chilling Plastic Ono Band--all the while the man never really knew himself, as you gravely note in your concluding sentence.

Holy Odorono! If you're right, J.R., then maybe Lennon, long considered a leading spokesman for the "me" generation, eventually will be recognized as the biggest fraud to ever hit the entertainment biz since (or, pardon me, prior to) Milli Vanilli.

Frank Youngwerth


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