October 9, 2014
Via their extraordinary albums (in particular 1965’s Rubber Soul, 1966’s Revolver, 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1968’s The Beatles, and 1969’s Abbey Road), their charming movies, their anti-capitalist experiment in capitalism (Apple Corps), and their ironic, edgy interviews, the Beatles transmogrified themselves into avatars of the Sixties. By 1970, however, JOHN LENNON (1940–1980) wanted out. “I was the Walrus/But now I’m John,” as he put it in a song released that year. But it was too late! In the pop unconscious he’d forever be the amphibious, ambiguous Walrus. Like Baudelaire’s amphibious albatross, Lennon was magnificent in his own element (music), but elsewhere comical and bitter. A misanthropist who wrote love songs, an idler who wasn’t allowed a moment’s peace, a philosopher who didn’t take anything seriously, the Walrus channeled his humor and rage into nonsensical books, activist performance art (inspired by and in collaboration with Yoko Ono, who deserves more recognition as Lennon’s other great artistic collaborator), and a couple dozen of The. Greatest. Pop Songs. Ever. At 35, he retreated from the world. Five years later, he re-emerged… only to be murdered.
READ MORE about members of the Anti-Anti-Utopian Generation (1934-43).