This Sunday, October 9th, is John Lennon's birthday: his 71st, to be precise. There always seems to be a new Lennon book out on this anniversary and this year it's Tim Riley's Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music—The Definitive Life. The buzz about the book is very good, but I doubt if it's definitive. In fact, I doubt if any biography of any human being can ever be called definitive; and when you're dealing with a complex and mercurial character like Lennon, the definitive will always be elusive. (I'll read it, of course: how could I not?)
If there is a single definitive element about John Lennon's life, it's his music. Here's one of his greatest—and most desperate—songs, performed live at Madison Square Garden in 1972. (He did two shows that day, one in the afternoon, one at night: I was in the audience for the evening show.)
Happy Birthday, John.