Beatles

Is Love All We Need?

Mary Jane Cannon/Shutterstock
Mary Jane Cannon/Shutterstock

The Beatles first performed “All You Need Is Love” in 1967 as part of an “Our World” global television link, the first of its kind. The song was perfect for the occasion and became a hit. It’s got a catchy lyric and the chorus makes for an interesting debate even today.

Is it true that all we really need is love?

Many of us don’t feel that way. Many of us have a lot of other things filling our lists of what we need and value the most: self-sufficiency, independence, money, privilege, career advancement, our country, our family, our religion.

Many religions don’t see it that way, either. They dote on theological constructs and codes of conduct for their followers. They devise lists of who’s in God’s favor and who is not. Their do-and-don’t lists rarely say much about love and its ramifications.

They love rules instead.

Pastor Terry Jones is No Match for the Beatles’ LOVE

photo   © 2011   Mark Taylor , Flickr
Pastor Terry Jones leads a Islamaphobic march. photo © 2011 Mark Taylor , Flickr

Many will remember pastor Terry Jones as the champion of the “Burn a Quran Day” event, intended to fan anti-Islamic rhetoric on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Though many shouted him down and criticized his motives, he continues to have somewhat of a national platform for his agenda.

In this video produced by the New York Times, we get to witness what I consider a momentary intervention of God’s spirit in a beautifully, creatively nonviolent way. As Pastor Jones condemns Muslims and their religion, a man in the crowd pulls up the lyrics to the Beatles song, “All You Need is Love” on his phone. He stands next to jones and begins to sing, inviting the crowd to join in. It is beautiful because his hate is repaid with song, and the sting of his venomous words is neutralized without a hand or another voice being raised in anger (though I could do without the “idiot” sign, thanks).

George Harrison: From 'Taxman' to 'I Me Mine'

The taxman, © maximma / Shutterstock.com
The taxman, © maximma / Shutterstock.com

Winston Churchill famously said, “Show me a young Conservative and I’ll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I’ll show you someone with no brains.”

Churchill was out of power by the time his countrymen, George Harrison and the Beatles, released “Taxman” on their Revolver album in 1966. New Prime Minister Harold Wilson had introduced a 95-percent supertax on the wealthiest Brits, including the Beatles. Harrison’s song was and remains a perfect Right-wing caricature of the Left. I can almost hear Bill O’Reilly singing an attack on President Obama’s plan to “ask the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more.”

In New Interview, Macca Says Yoko Did NOT Break Up the Beatles

Sir Paul McCartney (L) and Yoko Ono (R).
Sir Paul McCartney (L) and Yoko Ono (R).

According to Rolling Stone:

Paul McCartney says that Yoko Ono isn't at fault for splitting the Beatles or tearing John Lennon away from the group in an upcoming TV interview with David Frost, the BBC reports. "She certainly didn't break the group up," McCartney says, countering the commonly held belief that Ono caused the Beatles' dissolution. "I don't think you can blame her for anything," McCartney says, adding that Lennon was "definitely going to leave."

Read the Rolling Stone report in its entirety HERE

Lennon Forgiven

In November, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano reported that John Lennon is officially forgiven for his 1966 quip that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus,” which prompted some U.S. Christians to burn Beatles albums. “The remark by John Lennon,” reported the Vatican daily, “… sounds only like a ‘boast’ by a young working-class Englishman faced with unexpected success.”

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Sojourners Magazine February 2009
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Imagine That

YEARS AGO I might have resonated with Danny Duncan Collum's insights about John Lennon's "Imagine" ("Why ‘Imagine'? Why Now?" January-February 2002) but long before 9-11 I found myself somewhat at odds with its message. I had, of course, to keep checking to make sure my "'60s values" weren't slipping into cynicism and decided that while I still believe in the "you may say I'm a dreamer" portion of aspiring to a higher ideal, I've decided that the lyrics don't contain the ideal I'm after.

After years of work in ministry, as a mental health professional (whatever the hell that is!), singer-songwriter (on an obscure album with Ken Medema), and as a human being seeking after community, I finally came away with more of a Scott Peck perception of community than my previous view of a more homogenized world ("when all the colors bleed into one," sez U2).

The problem isn't having so many religions or countries, or denominations; the problem is being afraid of and not being able to embrace our differences, and when our differences are played out in tribalism. Lennon's anthem is more "communistic" (in a dictatorship of the proletariat that can easily fall down that slippery slope into a bureaucratic monolith) than it is community-based—despite its good intentions.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 2002
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Why "Imagine"? Why Now?

Who would have thought that, 30 years later, John Lennon’s "Imagine" could be rescued from the dustbin of commercial sentimentality? Sure, it was wheeled out every Dec. 8 to commemorate the anniversary of Lennon’s death, but everyone knew the song was as dead as its singer. Now, in the post-Sept. 11 world, the song has again become a vital statement of hope and even a resource for resistance.

How did this happen? "Imagine" was not Lennon’s greatest solo hit; "Instant Karma" easily surpassed it on the charts. Even in 1971, the line "imagine no religion" was a hard sell in the pop marketplace. And on pop radio, that line about "no possessions" made for a bumpy segue into the car commercials. But back in ’71, the song overcame those obstacles mostly on the basis of its ear-candy melody. It also came into an environment in which political protest was a fairly popular phenomenon. But there was more at work in the song even then. It was, and is, a stunningly direct and simple appeal to the human need for transcendence. In the midst of horrible war and domestic strife, the song asked the audience to listen to a tiny voice that suggested humans were made for peace and community.

When he was alive, Lennon said that "Imagine" was really "Power to the People" with a sugar coating. But that was only half right. The song was also the sequel to "All You Need is Love." In other early ’70s songs, Lennon set to music the Freudian and Marxist interpretations of religion as a projection and an opiate. In "Imagine" it is placed alongside the nation-state as a tool of division and war-making. But in both "All You Need is Love" and "Imagine," you can also hear the sound of an unrelentingly honest man looking for a credible way to capitalize Truth.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 2002
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