A couple of months ago the interesting LA Times book blog Jacket Copy for some inexplicable (but wonderful) reason put up the late great rock critic Lester Bangs' thoughts on the death of John Lennon.
Bangs was, of all critics, the truest of believers in rock and roll and, for that reason, the man most likely to understand what Lennon meant when the rock star told his followers that "the dream is over."
As Bangs said, just days after Lennon's death (when no doubt it would have been much easier to say something softer):
…the Beatles were certainly far more than a group of four talented
musicians who might even have been the best of their generation. The
Beatles were most of all a moment. But their generation was not the
only generation in history, and to keep turning the gutted lantern of
those dreams this way and that in hopes the flame will somehow flicker
up again in the '80s is as futile a pursuit as trying to turn Lennon's
lyrics into poetry. It is for that moment — not for John Lennon the
man — that you are mourning, if you are mourning. Ultimately you are
mourning for yourself.
But because he understood Lennon, sez me, Bangs also understood Lennon's real message, which was most directly put in "Nowhere Man," with its indelible chorus –"The world is at your command." Lennon was forever asking his listeners to open their eyes (as in "Strawberry Fields"); to see their own lives, to find their own way.
And so, on the anniversary of death, let me bring up the quote from Lennon that Bangs used to close out his eloquent obituary. Lennon said:
"Produce your own dream. It's quite possible to do anything… the
unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends
everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions."
That's what made Lennon inspirational. Not his faith in his own talent. His faith in yours…