Today, October 9th, 2010, John Lennon would have turned 70. Fans and even non-fans know when and where he died: He was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980, in front of the Dakota, where he lived with Yoko Ono. He was 40. I knew that without checking but if you want the full story go here; it remains harrowing to this day. But on this day, there is a lot of celebration – of Lennon, his life and his music, and Google is in on it right at the top. Literally at the top – today’s Google logo not only features the classic self-portrait sketch of Lennon — and then a video, set to “Imagine.” And that’s not all — then Google auto-sends you to the “John Lennon” search page. They do not mess around with their iconic rock star legend birthdays.
The video is below, but here’s the thing: It wasn’t created by Google, it was created by the John Lennon YouTube channel, which is inviting people from around the world (er, across the universe?), to submit birthday messages for Lennon, and words of peace in honor of the day, and, obviously, of the pervasive message of Lennon through songs like “Imagine” and “Happy Christmas (War is Over).” (This is probably not the time to bring up my grammatical quibble with the now-iconic refrain of “War is over, if you let it.” So I won’t.)
Anyhow – the John Lennon YouTube page is actually a treasure trove of messages from not only from people across said universe, but artists like Brian Wilson, Aerosmith, DMC, Heart, the Jonas Brothers (really), George Thorogood, a dude from Incubus, jazz prodigy Nikki Yanovsky, Brett Michaels, REO Speedwagon (really) plus people like basketball player Grant Hill, skateboarder Tony Hawk, comedian Penn Jillette, and, weirdly, the cast of Cirque du Soleil. Also some Polish band whose favorite Lennon song is “Don’t Let Me Down” (they’re called Sublim, and I thought I was clicking on Sublime – my bad). And, of course, Yoko Ono, thanking him “for giving us so much in his short and intense life on this planet,” —and who, like her or not (as some fans do, er, not), has been the faithful custodian of his legacy for the past 30 years (and, it should be said, was the partner Lennon himself chose). The result is an odd, sometimes awkward but ultimately compelling mish-mash of off-the-cuff video tributes, some surprisingly moving. We’ve got a selection on the next few pages, but for now, here’s Google’s take:
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