Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Honest to John

Ever since I was little, I have been plagued by insecurity. I know what you’re saying, “Todd, you don’t seem insecure,” to which I would reply, “Are you calling me fat?!?” I can remember being in elementary school and just sitting by myself because I wasn’t as good at making friends as the other kids and I didn’t feel wanted by those around me. In high school, I spent a large portion of my senior year sitting in solitude writing my screenplays or books or short stories. Even in college when I went through difficult times adjusting to my first relationship, I felt alone in sorting out my issues. But the fact of the matter is, for my entire life, every time I felt unwanted by the world and unnoticed by those around me, I had the music of The Beatles, in particular the songs of John Lennon, to keep me company and soothe whatever pains were aching.

My childhood friends...

Today is the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder. And while you can find a million articles and videos on the internet dedicated to lauding his gifts to the world with anthems about peace and love like Imagine, Give Peace a Chance, or All You Need is Love, I’d like to talk about his affect on me as a person. Despite my love and admiration for these anthems to and for the people and the world, I always felt more connected to John’s more personal songs because of his willingness to reveal his true self, a quality that I can not only relate to, but try and emulate in all of my writing.
After he met Bob Dylan, John was inspired to write from a more personal place, no matter how raw and revealing the outcome was. From this inspiration came songs like Nowhere Man and Help! and in his later career songs like Woman and Jealous Guy. In these songs, John beautifully and bravely exposed his weaknesses and his wants to the world:

“Doesn’t have a point of view, Knows not where he’s going to,
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”
Sometimes we all need someone to lean on.

“But every now and then I feel so insecure,
I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before.”

“Woman I know you understand,
The little child inside the man.”

“I was feeling insecure,
You might not love me anymore.”

It was this type of writing that drew me to John as my favorite Beatle and kept me comforted in all of my moments of solitude. While many songs can complement happiness with a bouncy tune or fun lyrics, songs of loneliness, angst, and insecurity can make someone enduring those emotions feel not so alone and help them survive to a better state of mind. For all of us who have gone through tough times, knowing that others have felt the same way—especially when those “others” include the great John Lennon—goes a long way to changing someone’s mindset from sorrowful to strong. 

Strawberry Field
Liverpool, England
One of my favorite Lennon lyrics is from his song Strawberry Fields Forever where he sings, "No one I think is in my tree, I mean it must be high or low." John's explanation of the lyric is that he knew he didn't relate with anyone, but he wasn't sure if this was because he was a genius or just crazy. And how do any of us know if we don't put ourselves out there?

I’ve had people tell me they can’t believe the things I say or admit to on this blog or in person. The fact of the matter is that I don’t have a choice. The reason I felt so alone so often in my life was and is because I don’t communicate well on the surface level with other people. Many humans connect over things like occupation, race, religion, or even something like sharing a favorite sports team or hometown. Small talk such as “How is work?” and “Did you have a nice weekend?” is lost on me. Because I don’t define myself by any of these things, I like to dig deeper to find out what people are really about, and in return, I like to show them the true me.

The Cavern Club
Liverpool, England

This openness takes a lot of courage because people can often misinterpret or simply dislike blunt honesty, whether it’s because they don’t like the idea of someone being so free with their thoughts or because they simply don’t like the thoughts themselves. But being that, in my mind, there is no afterlife, the only way to survive and be remembered in this universe is with what and who you change or affect here on earth. If I don’t express what’s inside me, no one will ever know what it is. Sure, they may not care, but I have found if you truly are honest about who you are, you will find a lot of people who say, “Me too!” who may not have had the courage to admit it otherwise. I know because I would never have been able to accept myself if it weren’t for John Lennon.


  1. I was at lunch today and listening to Come Together with my roommate in the car and told her that that song and I am the Walrus, changed my life. Before then it was all Dre and Snoop and Techno. It was the summer, prob June, I was 15 years old about to turn 16, oh and about to have a kid. Those songs made me go deeper into his stuff and see things differently and become the person I am today. I am not perfect, but neither was John


  2. You changed me,Thank You..I love this Entry Todd beautifully written. I understand.

  3. As an artist, the genius of Lennon was his ability to connect with people through his music. Good art makes you feel. GREAT art embeds universal truths to make many people, with disparate experiences and multivariate backgrounds, feel. It is a hard, hard thing to do. But great music, great books and great blog entries succeed in this. You're not an idiot after all.

    My personal favorite:

    "Imagine there's no Heaven
    It's easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the people
    Living for today."