Tuesday, June 15, 2021
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Imagining John’s Utopia

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Forty-nine years ago today, the album Imagine was released.

It aptly contained John Lennon’s best-selling single in his solo career, Imagine, inspiring world peace without borders and worldly possessions.

The author with son Atticus who is set to inherit her John Lennon shirts. | Photo furnished by Stephanie Montepio De Guzman
The author with son Atticus who is set to inherit her John Lennon shirts. | Photo furnished by Stephanie Montepio De Guzman

While the song and the album itself have both amassed countless accolades, criticisms abound too, notably because of Lennon’s request to imagine a world so perfect sans denominations of organized religions.

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Plus how do we even achieve global harmony without the mechanism of social control anyway?

That, and Lennon’s infamous pronouncement that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus in 1966 surely raised a lot of eyebrows, but that didn’t stop over 200 artists to perform or cover Imagine.

Proof (at least for me) that my favorite song is truly The.Best.Song.Ever.

While I can not, and do not, claim to be John Winston Lennon’s biggest fan from this side of earth, I know I am one of the very few who holds the distinction of having been born on the exact same date when he was fatally shot in New York.

Coincidence or not, I instantly became this acerbic Beatle’s aficionado, and at 11 years old I truly believed that Imagine is the best, the greatest, the most beautifully-written song ever.

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That, and many more superlatives from a wide-eyed sixth-grader whose first encounter with the Fab Four was with my family’s worn out cassette tapes.

I always looked forward to attending the flag ceremony in elementary school back then.

While most students would rather not spend time under the sun singing the Lupang Hinirang and reciting the Panatang Makabayan, and of course sweating it out in the compulsory early morning exercises thereafter, I on the other hand would be the first to run to the school grounds and wait for the technician to set up the sound system.

I can still vividly remember how Manong would do some “mic test, mic test… 1,2,3..”, then I’ll hear that old familiar voice again: “Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try…”

Seriously I didn’t care how hedonistic Lennon sounds; hell I don’t even know what hedonistic means.

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All I thought was that Manong technician loves my ‘idol’ too; of course because Lennon was the best, the greatest, and he wrote the most beautiful songs ever. Surely everyone loved Lennon. Or so I thought.

https://open.spotify.com/track/7pKfPomDEeI4TPT6EOYjn9?si=Omy6Q1UJThuTupv8ggUVfg

I remember how people would call me ‘laon’ and ‘baduy’ because of my choice of music.

While my friends listened to pop and alternative rock, I would proudly argue with them and staunchly maintain that the Beatles, fronted by Lennon of course, is the best band ever.

Any Oasis fan who’d say that the group is better than the Beatles becomes an instant enemy.

Those who’d say that Nirvana or Jon Bon Jovi or Michael Learns to Rock or Vanilla Ice sounded better deserve my intense dislike.

The avid fan in me simply believed that Lennon was a demi-god, and no other musician comes close.

All because for me Lennon wrote the most beautiful song with the most haunting lyrics. Who else could have written a masterpiece that is Imagine?

On the 8th of December this year I’d be celebrating my birthday, and the world will be commemorating John Lennon’s 40th death anniversary. (Yes I’m that old. )

While I also enjoy listening to Andy Williams and Billy Joel and Simon & Garfunkel and Eminem, Lennon will always be my first musical idol whose genius will never be surpassed, or even just equaled by today’s highest paid and most awarded artists.

I still find it cringe-worthy to even say my favorite Beatle’s name together with a (k)pop star in the same sentence (haha).

Lennon-tard, you say, if there’s such a thing, and I’ll take it as a compliment.

Although I still cannot fathom how we can achieve Utopia should we heed Lennon’s pointers, I’ve already told my four-year old son that Imagine is the greatest song of all time and I’d love to hear him sing it to me sooner than he realizes what hedonistic means.

And yes he’s inheriting my John Lennon shirts, too. *

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Stephanie Grace Montepio-De Guzman
Beatles fanatic. Mother of Atticus. Retro lover. Writer. Old soul.

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