Monday, August 06, 2007

What would John Lennon Say?

My role in society, or any artist or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.
John Lennon (1940–80), rock musician

The Wall Street Journal had a story the other day about the piano on which John Lennon composed "Imagine." George Michael and his longtime partner, Kenny Goss, a Dallas gallery owner purchased the instrument from a private collector at a Sotheby auction for $2.1 million in 2000.

Now there are sending to places that need healing and hope.

The piano was displayed on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., where 32 students were massacred by a lone gunman in April. People drove from as far away as Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day weekend to see it. Some wanted the chance to play "Imagine" or other songs on it. Others simply ran their fingers over the cigarette burns Mr. Lennon had left on it.

The piano hasn't always been welcomed. Administrators at Columbine High School outside Denver, still suffering from publicity fatigue eight years after two students killed 13 people there in 1999, refused to allow the piano on the school campus. And officials at Ford's Theater in Washington, where President Lincoln was assassinated, ignored requests that they play host to it. When it showed up anyway one morning on the sidewalk in front of the theater, actors rushed out to see it.

It has also been to the Memphis motel -- now a museum -- where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968 to a Texas prison on the eve of an execution. It showed up at a ceremony commemorating the lives lost during the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, then 12 hours later was unveiled in Waco, Texas, at a service for the 80 members of a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians who died in a 1993 blaze after a 51-day standoff with federal officials.

Personally, I think it is a bit overdone. I think Lennon would tell Michael to get real, it is just a piano. It could have been any piano that he had ordered. If it helps people what the heck. Give Peace a Chance!


Chandira said...

I know what you mean, but hey, I'd love to see it! 'Imagine' is the one saong that without fail, makes me cry every time. I have been known to embarrassedly rush out of stores at Christmas when that comes on, kleenex in hand.
Although I hero-worship John Lennon, the thing is, we should all be doing things about peace ourselves, too.

Eric said...

The song has universal appeal, even to those who don't know the performer or composer. But the piano is just a piano, as you point out. Maybe they should have sent Lennon on tour instead, projecting him playing the song.

The Misanthrope said...

Chandira, it's a great song, but maybe I've heard it too much. I want to find Neil Young's version that he performed at the 9/11 show.

Eric, a hologram of Lennon is a great idea. I think that did that for Elvis or Sinatra I foget which, but it didn't pan out.