Harry Benson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
John Lennon would have been 70 years old tomorrow. Last fall, between the reissue box sets and the video game, we got a fair amount of Beatles-related revivalism/nostalgia. This year, which is also the 40th anniversary of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (his first official solo record) and the 30th anniversary of Lennon's murder, it's John's turn.
Aside from the de rigueur reissues and greatest hits collections, boxed sets, the tributes, the movie and the forthcoming PBS documentary, the anniversary has been an opportunity for news media to celebrate the life of one of the most revered, complex pop stars of any era.
-Tomorrow morning on Weekend Edition Saturday, Scott Simon speaks with journalist David Sheff, who spent three weeks in the fall of 1980 interviewing Lennon for Playboy Magazine as he and Yoko Ono recorded Double Fantasy, just months before Lennon was shot.
-Member station WNYC asks New York personalities and station staff to talk about their memories of Lennon's life and music. Of the day Lennon was killed, engineer Irene Trudel says, she "spent the day in a daze," listening to a mix tape of Lennon's songs, "hoping to hear that the news wasn't true."
-Billboard offers up an enormous package of Lennon anniversary content, including interviews with Ono and son Julian Lennon, reviews of the reissues, and a listing of events this weekend that will honor John.
- In the Los Angeles Times, Randy Lewis rounds up the reissues and talks with Ono about how Lennon would have viewed the massive cultural and musical shifts that have taken place since his death.
-Vanity Fair eschews asking questions, instead constructing a fake interview that imagines Lennon survived Mark David Chapman's attempt on his life (in the piece, Lennon — divorced from Yoko Ono — owns a farm in upstate New York, sleeps until 2pm, skinny-dips, smack-talks the music industry, and regrets both voting for Ronald Reagan in 1984 and the '87 Beatles reunion).
-New York magazine's Vulture blog whips up a slide show of the men who have played versions of Lennon in movies and TV, from Nowhere Boy newbie Aaron Johnson to Paul Rudd (in Walk Hard) and Neil Innes (in the Rutles' All You Need Is Cash). They discover that in the movies, Lennon's almost always a big jerk.
-USA Today offers suggestions for how to honor Lennon (buy the reissues, go to the tribute concerts and museum exhibitions, view the films).
-So do Esquire.com's fashion editors (be as stylish and cool and uncompromising as he was, you schlub).
-In The New York Times, critic Allan Kozinn says we probably don't need all the fanfare to be reminded of Lennon's importance, but gosh, shucks, we'll take it anyway. Besides, the man himself would have appreciated the attention.