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“Watching the Wheels”

Posted by purplemary54 on October 9, 2012

Happy John Lennon’s Birthday!!!!!!!

I am of the opinion that today ought to be an international holiday, complete with closed banks and post offices.  I think everybody ought to be sitting in parks and arenas and shopping centers singing John Lennon songs.  I think the whole world just ought to fucking stop for a minute so that we can remember what a gift we were all given in the middle of an air raid 72 years ago today.

I am also aware that I’m a little nuts.  But  I don’t care.

John Lennon was a beautiful, intelligent, talented human being.  He was also deeply flawed.  He could be thoughtless and selfish, quick to anger and slow to forgive.  He spent about half his life in the public eye in the worst possible way.  He was a Beatle, which gave him fame and wealth and the kind of recognition that most people will only ever dream of.  He gave up a lot of things for all of that, including his life.  Because he could never stop being a Beatle; it was a title he would carry for the rest of his life.  (To be fair, the other Beatles always had to carry it too, but John always seemed a little more uncomfortable with it than the others.)  But he never stopped living his life the way he saw fit, never backed down from anyone if he truly believed he was right.  That might be what I admire most about him.

“Watching the Wheels” is a gentle, kind rebuke to his critics, public and private.  In 1975, after years of heartbreak, Yoko Ono finally gave birth to their son Sean, and John Lennon dropped out of the “game” to raise his child.  For five years, he was the caregiver and housekeeper while Yoko ran their business concerns.  When he did come out of his self-imposed professional exile, he answered the question everyone had been asking:  “I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round.  I really love to watch them roll.”  Watching the home movies in this clip, I see the happiness and peace of that time for him.  I also feel sad.  Sad that Sean only got five years with his dad.  Sad that Julian was denied all of that attention because his father was off being a Beatle.  Sad that there isn’t anymore music from John.

This is the one song by John I’ve always identified with.  I’ve always been one of those people who’s content (for the most part) with life.  I don’t have a lot of ambition (and I will confess to being lazy).  And I’ve been criticized for it.  “Why don’t you do something with your life?” is something I’ve heard before.  But the simple fact is, I don’t want to do what most people consider “something.”  I’m not a corporate grind, 9-5 kind of girl.  I like being in a place where I can wear my Converse and blue jeans.  I’m sort of poor and underemployed right now, but I get to work from home (which is still kind of weird).  I like listening to my music and thinking.  I like this, right here, writing about my thoughts to you all.  So next time someone asks what I’m doing, maybe I’ll answer, “I’m just sitting here doing time.”

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4 Responses to ““Watching the Wheels””

  1. This is one of my favorite John Lennon songs. I don’t know how much I would have liked him as a person, though. I still feel so bad for Julian and how he got pushed aside as soon as Yoko came around.

    • It wasn’t so much that Julian got pushed aside. John was never really a presence in his life. He was born just as the Beatles were beginning to hit, so his father was always gone.

  2. alundeberg said

    John Lennon and I share the same birthdate, so I’m all for a national holiday! (Right after Columbus Day, too!) All joking aside, I’ve always been really proud to have the same birth date as he does. I like how he saw potential in everyone and in our ability to strive for understanding. I also like how unapologetic he was in his choices and what he stood up for. The lyrics to “Imagine” hang on my cupboard door in my classroom– hopefully to inspire the kids.

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