Tag Archives: John Lennon

When I Was A Kid, The World Shut Down…


I don’t roll on Shabbas…and now, you won’t catch your author anywhere near a bowling alley any other day of the week either.

Bowling has to be one of the highest-risk activities to spread a contagious virus (maybe second to a trip to Chuck E Cheese’s?) Just thinking about reaching my fingers into those three holes (get your mind out of the gutter…see what I did there?) in any of those colored balls at a local bowling alley makes my stomach churn and the little hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Add to that the shared rental shoes, the touchscreen automated scoring apparatus, the arcade games, the bowling alley bathrooms and the other patrons (many of whom would fit right in on Tiger King) and you may as well reserve an ICU wing at the local hospital.

But I digress.

There are a number of distinct memories I have from childhood, both good and bad, that are forever etched into my mind, along with certain imagery…just thinking about the events below brings me back to a certain time and place in my life. And conversely, reminiscing about certain times in my life, I immediately recall these events which are forever associated with those specific ages and moments.

  • Gas station lines during the oil crisis in the ’70s
  • Phillies 1980 World Series Victory
  • Iran Hostage Crisis (in particular, the yellow ribbon – replete with its own song)
  • USA Hockey victory over USSR – The Miracle on Ice
  • John Lennon’s Assassination
  • Reagan’s Assassination Attempt
  • 76ers 1983 World Championship
  • We Are the World
  • Challenger Explosion
  • Stock Market Crash of 1987
  • Earthquake Disrupts 1989 Bay Area World Series
  • The Gulf War – “This Aggression Will Not Stand!”
  • Tiananmen Square
  • Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
  • Berlin Wall Comes Down (And the subsequent dissolving of the USSR)
  • Magic Johnson Reveals He Has HIV
  • Rodney King Riots
  • Duke Back-to-Back Championships 1991-1992 – (in particular, the UNLV game in ’91 and the Kentucky game in ’92)
  • OJ – The car chase and the trial

*The list is not exhaustive and shows a clear bias toward negative stories (one wonders if that is a human thing, a media thing or an IDROS thing). IDROS included impactful events from early childhood through college graduation. Also, please note these are all shared events. Obviously, like IDROS, all of you have personal memories and life-altering events of which only you and your closest family and friends might be aware. But this COVID-19 affair affects the entire planet and so this list includes only events shared by much of, if not all of, humanity.

IDROS would love to hear from any readers who have other watershed events to include in the comments below.

Thinking back on the list above, IDROS can’t help but wonder how his and all children will remember this dark and unique time in our world.

How will it be taught in schools? What will be the lasting images and photos of the pandemic that will fill the History textbooks? What would be the impacts on our world? Did humanity change as a result? And how so? Do we look back at this time nostalgically? Did any good come from this crisis? Did society learn anything from this? What, if anything, was forever changed by Coronavirus? Was our response effective? What could we have done better? Where did our efforts fail? How are we more prepared going forward for another such threat?

A few of IDROS’ stray observations so far from the Coronavirus Pandemic:

  1. No school shootings – an underrated benefit of this craziness
  2. My kids don’t realize the fears my wife and I have when doing mundane things like going grocery shopping or getting gas in this new world
  3. They also don’t know what we do once we return with our haul, or have it delivered – the hours wiping down all the boxes and packages with Clorox wipes, etc.
  4. If you weren’t a hypochondriac and/or germaphobe before this pandemic…you are now!
  5. IDROS fears even more than usual for all women and children living in an abusive home during this crisis (please read this great piece)
  6. Doctors, nurses and hospital employees are true heroes (as are grocery store employees, delivery men and women, and all first-responders)
  7. Yardwork is more fun when you are quarantined, but only marginally
  8. Little to no traffic on the roads is a pleasant and welcome benefit of these times
  9. IDROS believes the current situation must be especially difficult for anyone working a 12-step program (or similar) and prays for your continued strength – on the plus side: zoom meetings are available and the coffee is likely better
  10. IDROS is legitimately scared…for his family, friends, all who are protecting us and helping us through this time, America, and for humanity
  11. America’s greatest challenge in this pandemic, in IDROS’ humble opinion, is the vast amount of freedom the citizens of this country enjoy…to truly contain and defeat this enemy, a full lockdown is necessary and should have been instituted long ago (think, February). But Americans would never allow this en masse and will need to see much more devastation than a couple thousand deaths before allowing the government to claw back their freedoms. Nations with citizens who are more accustomed to dictatorial rule, or at least fewer liberties and freedoms in general, have fared much better during this pandemic.
  12. That said, IDROS is humbled by the overwhelming selflessness of the majority of American (and global) citizenry. Most people are sacrificing everything for the greater good, forgoing sanity, their careers, income and most that life has to offer outside the four walls of their homes to ensure the safety of the first-responders, medical professionals, elderly and immuno-compromised in our communities…and frankly, have done so with no real clear leadership. There is no precedent for this situation and still, by and large, the response has been amazingly awe-inspiring…at least so far.
  13. IDROS would like to thank all the kind people out there like John Krasinski who are trying to keep us focused on the good during these trying times.

Please be safe everyone. Humanity will prevail! Have faith and stay the f*c@ at home!

All the best,




Filed under Current Events, Family, Politics, Uncategorized

And in “The End” an iconic band broke up…Reflections on the final song recorded by The Beatles

It was the worst of times for Rock and Roll’s greatest act. But even as their dissolution hung ominously over the Fab Four, they decided to put their differences aside and head into EMI Studio on Abbey Road for one last hurrah, just like they had so often in the good old days of the preceding eight years and eleven albums.* (Please reference footnote below for more historical context)

The Beatles’ grand finale, Abbey Road, was just the bittersweet opus fans, critics and band-mates alike would universally agree delivered a fitting encore to perhaps the greatest Rock and Roll act to ever grace a stage or studio. A sweeping and ambitious album comprised of two stylistically different sides, Abbey Road showcased the greatest strengths of the band, individually and en masse.

Most notable in Abbey Road was that the four distinct personalities that came to define John, George, Paul and Ringo shone brightly throughout the album, musically, lyrically and stylistically. This was most evident, and perhaps most hauntingly appropriate, in the song that would close the album (or at least was initially supposed to), the final segment of the epic Side B medley, aptly named “The End.”

The Beatles’ public personas were encapsulated early on in their careers with nicknames that emerged:

John: The smart/witty one

George: The quiet one

Paul: The cute one

Ringo: The funny one

But there was more to each of them, obviously, and their personalities became more defined as Beatlemania enveloped the world. John was intelligent, but he also was a rebel and a dreamer, deeply profound and affected by the world around him, the more creative and less overt leader of the band. George was quiet and shy at times, but also was mysterious and spiritual with a jocular side. Paul, though known for his “puppy-dog eyes,” was seen as a clean- cut, romantic, perfectionist – the driven, technical leader of the band. And Ringo was funny, though no more so than John or George by all accounts. Ringo was a people pleaser, the consummate team player and the veritable backbone of the band.

Tom Robbins, in his 1980 classic, Still Life With Woodpecker, opined through his eponymous anti-hero, that you can derive pretty much all you want to know about a person by asking them who their favorite Beatle is and listening to their answer: “Bernard Mickey Wrangle had developed a psychological test of his own. It was short, simple, and infallible. To administer the test, merely ask the subject to name his or her favorite Beatle. If you are at all familiar with the distinct separate public images of the four Beatles, then you’ll recognize that the one chosen reveals as much about the subject’s personality as most of us will ever hope to know.”

Just as the Woodpecker’s test has proven its merits over the years in our own armchair psycho-analyses of the people in our lives, Abbey Road’s release revealed the album to be a Rorschach test or dream interpreter in its own right. The album was like a compilation of inkblots or dreams that revealed a great deal about the personalities of each Beatle. And if Abbey Road was a dream interpreter, judging by its opening lyric, “The End” was the key dream interpretation on that test that led to a major breakthrough.

“The End” emerged as a virtual highlight reel of the great band from Liverpool, stunningly crammed into just over two minutes of smile-coaxing, heart-warming musical genius. The song’s central theme, love, is a running theme throughout the Beatles’ vast songbook. But the structure and free-spirited curtain call nature of the tune set it apart.

As the final song recorded collectively by the four principles of the band, “The End” provided a forum for each of their individual personalities and musical strengths to shine in one last masterful performance. Each Beatle has at least one solo, during which his own distinct style radiates. Even Ringo, who always maintained a vehement aversion to solos, preferring instead to target his percussion toward whoever sang or played the melody in a particular performance, has a stand-out solo sequence on the record. Apropos to Ringo’s personality, his solo was actually recorded with tambourine and guitar accompaniment, and the other instruments were later muted during editing to give the effect of a Ringo drum solo. Ringo Starr was true to himself even as “The End” showcased a “hypocritical” moment, leaving listeners with a stunningly honest portrayal of Starr despite being tainted by a bizarre feeling that something is amiss.

And John, George and Paul perform a rotating sequence of three two-bar guitar solos which flow out of the “Love You” chorus about a minute into the song. Each solo echoes the personality of its artist, and in three separate two bar segments (about twelve cumulative seconds of virtuoso wailing for each of them), the listener can truly differentiate who is playing. Paul comes in with flawless, stinging licks reminiscent of his guitar work on earlier tracks such as “Another Girl” and “Taxman.” George uses a technically advanced slide technique that was becoming his trademark as he plays off of Paul’s lead in each go around. John‘s contribution was rhythmic but heavily distorted, a nod to his guitar work on “Revolution,” and signifying his growing dissociation with his band mates and his “former life.”

Truly eerie in their guitar solo sequence (and I apologize for this morbid correlation) is the order in which they play. Paul takes the lead, followed by George with John closing each sequence. And in their true “end,” it was John exiting first, George following and Paul, still with us, who will bow out third. Paul did get the “last word” in “The End” by penning a lyric to close the song (and the album…at least in its original layout). Drawing inspiration from one of his heroes, Paul decided to write a rhyming couplet in the style of the Bard. Its message is timeless.

Sure, the song’s powerful ending lyric seems to speak to society at large, a philosophical directive to which all of us could and should relate and adhere. But even more so, the equation set up by Paul’s couplet – “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” – resonates as the defining credo, even epitaph, of four men who forever changed the musical landscape of our world. For ten years, they put everything they had into their music. Malcolm Gladwell’s ten thousand hours in dark clubs throughout Europe, and thousands more in the studio and on arena and stadium stages around the world. And in return, they received the love and adulation of a worldwide fan base that literally could not get enough. The Beatles’ music was love: love of being musicians, love of creative freedom, love of women, love of spirituality, love of rock and roll, love of rebellion, love of their fans and certainly, at one time, love of one another. We as fans all felt that love, and continue to feel it even today every time we hear one of their songs. We felt their love and loved the band right back. And if their continual popularity and relevance in today’s art, culture, literature and of course, music is any indication, we still love the Beatles today as much as ever.

*Historical background leading up to the release of Abbey Road:

Friction already created a poor showing on their tenth album, The Beatles, now highly regarded as the White Album, but critically lambasted upon release as disjointed and sloppily performed and generally dismissed as ego-driven solo efforts thrown together in a mish-mash of discontinuity. (And that, in a nutshell, proves how incredible the band truly was, because The Beatles has come to be included among the greatest albums of all time in all critic and fan-based music-themed articles, rankings, research and analyses that matter.)

And their twelfth album, Let It Be, though released after Abbey Road, was recorded, in large part, before Abbey Road had been. Originally slated to be released before Abbey Road in mid-1969 as Get Back, the Beatles were displeased with the sound and feel of the cut and shelved the effort. By all accounts, bad vibes, discontent and a general festering of acrimony boiled over throughout the recording and editing of Let It Be. Some of the songs from the Get Back recordings were released as singles before Phil Spector came in and re-edited and mastered the album, renaming it Let It Be. Let It Be drew mixed reviews at the time of its release and to this day is seldom included among any short list of the band’s greatest albums. A film of the same name was also released, and has gained mass notoriety for vividly capturing a number of conflicts among band members during the making of the album, and has often been referred to as a documentary intended to highlight the making of an album, but instead diagrammed “the break-up of a band.”

The “why” is debatable. Perhaps it was all Yoko’s fault, as many Fab Four fans like to opine. Maybe creative differences ran amok and were the culprit. Undoubtedly, Paul and John had a very different approach to music and leadership, which helped to inspire the varied styles and depth of musical genius throughout the band’s impressive oeuvre, but also laid the foundation for the Beatles’ demise as well. A grueling tour schedule and constant in-your-face idol-warship that accompanied Beatlemania took its toll on everyone, particularly George, who was retreating more and more into a spiritual lifestyle in the late 1960s. And the demands of fame in general were exhausting, from financial negotiations to promotional obligations. Finally, these are four people who, along with their few trusted insiders such as Brian Epstein (whose accidental overdose and death in 1967 caused problems of its own), and George Martin, spent a great deal of time together throughout the 1960s. So much time, in fact, that any petty disagreements, differences and moments of weakness that emerged became magnified exponentially.

Regardless of reason(s), in mid-1969, the four principles knew the end was nigh. After the disharmony and infighting that plagued the band’s previous two recording efforts, Paul went to George Martin, long-time producer and music arranger for the band sometimes referred to as the Fifth Beatle (though Paul maintained “if anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian [Epstein]”), and basically pleaded that the band needed to end on a high note and get together to make an album “the way they used to.” Martin agreed, and Abbey Road was born.

Additional sources and fun links:

1970 Rolling Stone Interview with John Lennon

1980 Playboy Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono

1971 Life Magazine Interview with Paul McCartney

1969 Interview with George Harrison in Apple Offices

1977 Interview with Ringo Starr

2007 Review of “The End” by Richie Unterberger

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