Friday Ephemera

Above Them, Only Sky

John Lennon was never imprisoned or tortured, but he was seen as a threat.

That’s the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland in a piece asking Where Are Today’s Political Popstars? It’s highlighted as an editor’s pick, no less.

They weren’t wrong to think the man who once shook his moptop like a wind-up toy was radical: he was. In Give Peace a Chance and Happy Xmas (War is Over) he had written not one but two anthems of the movement to end the Vietnam War.

Ah, anthems. Written in support of a movement whose most notable gift to mankind was a totalitarian future for the Cambodians and Vietnamese and one of the largest genocides in history.

His politics hardened in the immediate aftermath of the Beatles’ breakup, declaring after Bloody Sunday that in a choice of the British army or the IRA he would side with the IRA.

A terrorist organisation responsible for the murders of close to 2,000 people, many of whom were civilians, and which, according to the Observer, Lennon saw fit to fund with tens of thousands of pounds.

He sang about Revolution; many thought one was on the way.

Indeed. Lennon also found time to lend his pop star gravitas to the Workers’ Revolutionary Party, a Trotskyist cult apparently financed by those moral colossi Muammar al-Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, and which entranced such artistic luminaries as Corin and Vanessa Redgrave. The WRP’s ambitions included socialist revolution, the overthrow of private property and the replacement of the police by a “workers militia.” Imagine that. And hey, who wouldn’t feel threatened by a millionaire pop star sprawled on his peace bed high above Manhattan, singing a hymn to global totalitarianism and a world with “no possessions,” while his sidekick Yoko collected fur coats?

For some beautiful dreamers any revolution will do. And this is the Guardian, where communist psychodrama must be given a free pass. That’s what radicals do, apparently.


Karen points us to today’s Guardian editorial, which is positively engorged with pop radicalism. 

While [Morrisey] is a political weather-vane blown by emotional gales, [Johnny] Marr is a sturdy signpost pointing left – a friend of the great bard of socialist song, Billy Bragg, and the mover behind the Smiths' involvement with the anti-Thatcher Red Wedge musical collective.

Yes, Johnny Marr:  the vegan socialist who crashed his BMW after another tequila binge. When not strumming his instrument and “forbidding” certain people to enjoy his records, Mr Marr is a “visiting professor of music” at Salford University, where he rails against “an age of stifling conservatism.” And, oh yes, the “great bard of socialist song” Billy Bragg. A man who - proudly and in a very serious voice - told Radio 4 listeners that he’d “learned all of his politics from pop music.”

Some things you just can’t parody.