The Working Class Hero and MineThe American Heritage Dictionary defines an idol as an image used as an object of worship, a false god, one that is adored, or something visible but without substance. By all these definitions, I have a few idols. After all, I am fairly religious, and go to Catholic mass every Sunday. However, when someone asks me who my idol is, I assume that they are asking if there is someone I adore. By this definition of the word, someone other than God comes to mind. I think of John Lennon. Call me sacrilegious, but this is the truth. Ironically, I, a confirmed, practicing Catholic, idolize the man who said his band was more popular than Jesus. The people who know me best, my friends and family, know it. They know that I am obsessed with the Beatles.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band many times. In the following years, my father fueled my obsession, renting the greatest hits album from the local library, buying Rubber Soul and Abbey Road from the record store, even renting Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine from the video store. By the time I hit first grade, I kept myself busy by drawing the Beatles and their album covers, a pastime I do not believe I shared with my peers. My father realized how serious this obsession was, and told me one night to devote my time to things other than the Beatles. Did I mention that I was only in the first grade? I honored his request and busied myself with what little schoolwork the teacher gave me, reading picture books, running around with other kids my age, watching TV and children’s movies, and playing classical music on the piano. Frequently, I would still listen to the Beatles’ music, but at least I had a less unusual life.
I toned down the obsession, but did not throw it away. In fifth grade, I quickly became friends with Noah Rodman, who is still a close friend of mine, when we discovered that we both liked the Beatles. In eighth grade, our English teacher had us write a diary from the perspective of someone whose biography we could find in the library. Luckily, I found a book about John, and I culled a little of the information I used for the project from the book, but most of it came from my head. My encyclopedic knowledge of the Beatles helped me get an A. I did another project about John just this spring, a five-minute oral presentation on his life and music, all in Spanish.
Some years ago, I bought the CD Acoustic, a collection that shows what John could do with only an acoustic guitar and his beautiful voice. It also exposed me to his solo work, the art he produced without interference from his band mates, the songs that truly demonstrate his passion, his love, his introspection. Recently, I have been able to listen to his work and appreciate it on a level my four-year-old self never could have.
Why do I keep going back to John Lennon? Perhaps I do because, more so than the other Beatles, John has a legacy. People know him not only as a musician, but as a symbol of activism, unity, and peace. He led the movements to end the Vietnam War and free John Sinclair, a man who was imprisoned for his political beliefs. While others make songs for commercial gain, John wrote songs like “Give Peace a Chance”, “Power to the People”, and countless others. In “Imagine”, John outlined his version of utopia, and though his vision did not become a reality in his lifetime, perhaps we can work towards realizing it for the prosperity. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.