Countless publications have been created about John Lennon. No doubt, he’s arguably the most popular of the Beatles but how much do you know about him? More importantly, what are some of the things you remember him for that have probably influenced your own songwriting? Need help putting them together?
In this article, we will highlight a few facts about the British musical legend and how he changed the world for the better.
There are tons of facts and details about the Beatles founder – and later outstanding solo artist – that you may or may not have heard about, which made him one of the world’s greatest songwriters and worthy of emulation if your ambition is to make your own music.
Here are three of them:
1. He was an Activist
Lennon was famous for making meaningful music, but he also stood out in the minds of people everywhere due to the fact that he was vocal on a number of political issues during his lifetime. He used both his music and actions to voice his opinions. For one, he didn’t support the war going on in Vietnam and ensured that was made known, whether through interviews with the media or through his songs.
In May of 1969, shortly after his wedding and honeymoon with Yoko Ono, the singer and his wife, along with a group of friends in a packed hotel room in Montreal, staged a protest of sorts which was broadcasted around the world. At one point, they were all singing/chanting his song “Give Peace a Chance,” referring to the war going on in Vietnam.
Not too long after, he released the song as a single and it went on to become a classic anthem against the war, as well as against other events that people considered unjust. Lennon’s actions caused many to go as far as to say he was responsible for the Vietnam War coming to an end when it did. Whether you concur or not, you can easily see why when you listen to the song’s powerful lyrics.
As you probably know, the 1970s was a particularly turbulent period, which was reflected in many of the songs that were made at the time. From Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” to Neil Young’s “Ohio,” numerous protest songs followed in the footsteps of Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” to give voice to the people. Not everyone can be an activist, but one lesson you can probably take from this, as a songwriter, is that it’s a good idea to look at what’s happening in the world when trying to create songs that will resonate with the masses.
2. Early ‘Reality TV’ Star
Many TV viewers who were around in the 1970s would consider Lennon as one of the first well-known musicians to venture into celebrity living on the screen, although the term ‘reality show’ wasn’t popular back then. Along with Yoko Ono, Lennon invited the media into their hotel suite at the Amsterdam Hilton for 12 hours of each day for a week during their honeymoon. However, the move was far from being a mere publicity stunt. Instead, it was part of the singer’s stance against...you guessed it…the war in Vietnam. Nonetheless, the event was broadcasted around the world, allowing people to live ‘a day in the life of the Lennons’ so to speak.
Why did this move attract publicity? After all, there were other people protesting against the war using more conventional methods. Well, for one, he was John Lennon. But more importantly, he created music that impacted the world in so many different ways that people hung on to everything he did and said. Whether one of your ambitions is to have your own reality show, climb the Billboard charts, have a viral YouTube video, or dominate top 40 radio, making good music that the world can relate to will always work to your favor as demonstrated by Lennon.
3. He Wrote “Imagine”
No pun intended, but imagine if you could capture the imagination of an entire generation with one song, what would it sound like? For Lennon, it was simply to get people to imagine a world without war, hate, and divisive elements - a theme that millions around the world can identify with.
Undoubtedly, the song “Imagine” is top of the list of Lennon’s hits for those who listen to his music. It’s a timeless masterpiece, not just because it was the best-selling single of his solo career, but also because of its universal message of peace.
Its popularity is such that in 2004, Rolling Stones Magazine hailed it as the third greatest song of all time. Before that in 1999, performing rights organization, BMI, ranked it in the top 100 of the most-performed songs of the 20th Century. Even without those accolades, the song is one of the
most recognizable in many countries around the world and it has managed to remain fresh despite being used for numerous world-peace campaigns over the years.
Whatever your reason for writing songs and regardless of your genre, maybe you have ambitions of creating an anthem, like Lennon did with “Imagine.” It’s certainly not easy in today’s musical landscape, but it’s not impossible either. Not as long as you keep creating music that has all the
right ingredients, including great vocals, relatable lyrics, and outstanding production.
John Lennon came, saw, and sang, and the world listened. The world is still listening, even though it's been a long time since his death. His music has no doubt inspired the works of many songwriters. After all, he was one of the most revolutionary artists of his time to the point that he still has a huge following more than three decades after his passing. If making timeless music is one of your goals, it certainly wouldn’t hurt for you to take a good look at his body of work.
One thing that’s clear is that his music was great because he had a superb team of musicians around him at the beginning of his career when he started the Beatles. Just goes to show that if you make your songs with professional music recording studios and connect with the right people, at the right time, your chances of making good music that the world will enjoy gets even better.