Kevin Spacey once said, “John Lennon was Liverpudian by birth, but a New Yorker by choice.” And it’s no wonder then how this musical genius and pop icon has endeared himself into the hearts of many Americans. Lennon fans the world over constantly honor the visionary, revolutionary and artist that he was. Here are a few gift suggestions for the quintessential Lennon fan this holiday season.
John’s greatest contribution to the world was, of course, his music. Any Lennon CD will surely work, but most fans already have their collection racks full of them. If you’re looking for a present for someone who’s only starting to dabble into Lennon’s solo catalogue, I would recommend Imagine, which contains his most popular and monumental track of the same title and the compilation Lennon Legend, which would be a good foray through the best-known pieces in Lennon’s catalogue. For John’s 25th death anniversary, a soundtrack also entitled Imagine was released last year, intended to accompany the Solt-directed 1988 video release of the same title. The soundtrack is a good, but quite harried, attempt at summarizing John’s expansive career from his Beatles years to his solo artistry (you get the feeling that one CD really isn’t enough to convey his genius). The DVD on the other hand is quite unique, in that the bulk of it is a biography of John by John, through the reels of personal footages that he shot of his life. So it really is him narrating the documentary of his life, and why would any Lennon fan not want to hear him out and see what the man himself thought we should see?
For the Lennon aficionado, the John Lennon Anthology box set, put out with the help of Yoko Ono in 1998, makes for an expansive library consisting four discs of studio outtakes, alternate track versions, behind the scenes chatter, and some demo tapes. The CDs are spread out across the 70s and shows us different sides of Lennon that demystifies our godlike worship of him and gives us an intensely personal encounter with the man by allowing us into his everyday life, whether as a doting father, as a husband, as a working musician. There are touching conversations between John and his son Sean, as well as stripped down, simple versions of songs like “God”, which comes across as a very solemn and reflective piece-just a man strumming his guitar and singing out his thoughts without any studio excesses. It’s a new way of encountering Lennon and it all the more humanizes him while leaving us in greater awe of his genius.
A lot of people who weren’t from his generation never knew John’s literary genius. He had an incredibly sharp wit and a knack for wordplay that’s hard to match. This made John extra special and unique, and with the publication of John Lennon In His Own Write and A Spaniard In the Works (both being fascinating, whimsical and intensely humorous collections of curious wordplay and interesting illustrations by John) during his early years with the Beatles, he cemented his status from sensational pop act to true artistic prowess. Get a copy of either publication (there have been recent reissues) or compilations that include both titles and assured that John’s biting humor and genius will liven up the holidays for any Lennon fan.
In 2001, Yoko Ono organized a New York tribute to John and his vision. Tragically, days before the concert was scheduled to take place, the defining moment of American history in the infancy of the new millennium struck, and the concert became a tribute to all the souls and the outstanding heroes who perished in 9/11 as well. More than just a concert, it was a night of music that continued to blaze the torch of peace that John had lit and constantly worked for in his life. Come Together: A Night For Words and Music captures a spectacular gathering of contemporary artists who’ve gathered to pay tribute to John and sing his burning legacy of peace. Who would’ve thought that music would bring together artists as diverse as Craig David, Cyndi Lauper, Kevin Spacey (I’ll tell you now, the guy can surprisingly belt out a decent tune!), and Sean Lennon himself. The DVD celebrates John in a grand way, and it’s a touching sight for any fan.
To many fans, that fateful day in December of 1980 is as fresh in their memories as if it were only yesterday. The world mourned the loss of an icon and a rare genius. Media prints immortalize the sanctity and solemnity of the day we wept for John, and Time magazine ran a cover of him that read “The Day The Music Died”. You can order a copy of the cover from Time’s website and have it framed-it’s a unique present and a special way by which fans the world over can honor and remember John.
Even 25 years after his death, many conspiracy theories remain as alive today as they were back in 1980. Was John killed by the US government? Was it the work of the CIA? Many theories abound, and for the thrill seeker, Tim Coates’ John Lennon: The FBI Files and Jon Wiener’s Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files shed some light on the conspiracists’ theories. Lennon was, after all, such an influential social figure and outspoken political activist at one point that it was hard to avoid enemies along the way. Still, we remember him for his uncompromising, principled visions, immortalized in many of his songs.
There are so many other Lennon resources, like videos, audio CDs, biographies, and picture books that celebrate him and give us an in depth look into the life of this 20th century revolutionary. He was a driving force in his generation, and by keeping his memory-and his music-alive, he continues to be a driving force to new generations of youth today.