John Lennon: The John Lennon of His Generation


The late John Lennon

Riff Raff Remembers Lennon, "Lennons"

Since today marks the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death, Riff Raff would like to pay tribute not just to the legacy Lennon left for pop music, but to the one he left for music criticism too.

Almost every generation since Lennon passed has had an artist hailed the "John Lennon of his generation." Most notably, Rolling Stone's David Fricke labeled Nirvana's Kurt Cobain as such, and a quick survey of the internet reveals the following other Lennonites:

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MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: "For fans of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, he was seen as the John Lennon of his generation."

NME (9/9/95, p.46) - 9 (out of 10): "...If Noel Oasis' strength derives from an ambition to be the John Lennon of his generation...

Agatha: "And "Dimebag" certainly was the John Lennon of his generation"

What qualifies someone for a John Lennon comparison exactly? Let's use Fricke's rebuttal against the haters:

"A lot of people were really upset that I compared Cobain to John Lennon. But if you just look at their upbringing, their rough childhood, the way that they wrote and sang from their heart, the way that people reacted to their music then you see it."

With that in mind, Riff Raff has put together a mini-playlist to commemorate a few artists who have rightfully earned comparisons to perhaps the first songwriter to ever write and sing from the heart:

01 Big & Rich: "Wild West Show" In this song about their rough childhood, a young Big & Rich want to go to the movie theater to see Wild Wild West starring Will Smith as Jim West. Times were tough though, and because the boys don't have enough money for tickets, they were forced to see Wild West Show, a low-budget Wild Wild West starring Martin Lawrence as Sheneneh.

02 David Bowie: "Rebel Rebel" Arguably the John Lennon of his generation, Bowie wrote this song by drawing on his own rough childhood: All the boys in his grade school had taken to being "rebels," but Bowie refused to cave in to peer pressure. Rather than admitting to himself how much of a pansy he was, Bowie instead decided to call himself a Rebel Rebel. To this day, Bowie both writes and sings from the heart.

03 50 Cent: "In Da Club" "Hey shorty, it's your birthday," sings 50 Cent about his rough childhood. More than his ability to draw from personal pain though, what's most Lennonesque about 50. the John Lennon of G-Unit, is the way people react to his music: They look at his upbringing.

04 Modern Lovers: "Pablo Picasso" They tell us that "Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole," which is to say, Picasso's childhood was relatively unrough. was it not? In contrast, Lennon not only had an upbringing, but also wrote and sang from the heart--this automatically makes him an asshole. It's possible that Picasso is the first reverse John Lennon of his generation.

05 Busta Rhymes: "Dangerous" This cut, which features the line, "Swear to only give you hot shit every day," reminds us how dangerous things get when people conflate the biographical details of the songwriter with their interpretation of a song per se. An increasingly concerned literary theorist as his career progresses, Busta Rhymes sang "Dangerous" from the heart.

06 Sean Paul: "We Be Burnin" This is a song about burning on the inside, for love, but it wouldn't have been the same had Sean Paul not suffered burning on the outside, for rough childhood. When he was 13, Sean Paul was lit on fire by a thing we Lennon fans call upbringing.

07 Nirvana: "Aneurysm" From a blog called "Life, Ed Wood and Professional Wrestling ...", we get the following in a post entitled "THINGS PISSING ME OFF TODAY":

    Kurt Cobain - he KILLED HIMSELF and because of that one simple fact he does not deserve our praise and worship. Suddenly everyone in the whole world is sanctifying the guy and calling him a genius. Well, let me shock you - he's not a genius. If he was a genius, he's still be alive. If he was a genius, then he wouldn't have SHOT HIMSELF! A genius doesn't give up on life and take the coward's way out. A genius doesn't kill himself because he's full of pain and woe. A genius takes the pain of life and deals with it. he is not a saint and he is not an angel and he is not in heaven right and he is not a victim and he was not a tortured soul. What he was was a drug addicted singer who got famous, freak out, and killed himself and that's it. Don't compare Kurt Cobain to John Lennon. That's like comparing Evanescence to Jesus. Here's a quote from John McLaughlin, the host of The McLaughlin Group ... "Kurt Cobain will not be remembered as the John Lennon of his generation. He will be remembered as the Sid Vicious of his generation- a loser." And he is right. Just because a man was in a band that made one or two pretty good albums and then kills himself doesn't make him a genius. All he is is a sad, pathetic, deceased casualty of drugs and that's it. YOU, the reader of this angry rant, are BETTER than Kurt Cobain. You know why? Because you are ALIVE!

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