What Would John Lennon Be Like Today?

A lost interview tape hints at the road Lennon was on

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John Lennon fans are getting a new window into the rock icon's life with the publication of a lost interview recorded just three days before his December 8, 1980 assassination. The former Beatle sat down with Rolling Stone's Jonathan Cott for a nine-hour interview that's been stowed away in Cott's closet for nearly three decades. Just in time for the 30th anniversary of Lennon's death, Rolling Stone is publishing excerpts and audio recordings on its site.

In the interview, Lennon talks about aging and his struggle to meet fan's expectations. "What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean," Lennon says. "I'm not interested in being a dead f***ing hero ... so forget 'em, forget 'em."

Reflecting on the tapes, bloggers are imagining what Lennon and his musical legacy would be like if he hadn't been killed.

  • He Was on a Road to Maturity, writes Mark Memmot at NPR: "Some of what Lennon has to say in those clips reinforces the impression left by the Double Fantasy album released just before his death--that at the age of 40 he was a much different, more mature, man than he'd been during the days of Beatlemania." He then points to a collection of remarks Lennon gave to Rolling Stone, including "I'm not claiming divinity ... I've never claimed purity of soul" and "I cannot be a punk in Hamburg and Liverpool, because I'm older now."
  • He Was Energized to Continue Musical Pursuits, writes Melissa Bell at The Washington Post:

The man on the tape seems fully aware of his place in time, noting he's too old to take up the battle cry of youth--that's the duty of the new brand of "punks." But he still sees a long future for himself and his music. "We're born-again rockers, and we're starting over...There's plenty of time, right? Plenty of time."

  • He Would've Been Like George Harrison, writes Kyle Anderson at MTV:

Though it's impossible to know exactly what would have become of Lennon's work and art, there are some inklings about what it probably wouldn't have been. The latter day Lennon probably wouldn't have ended up like Paul McCartney, making trifles of albums and trotting out old tunes for tours every few years. Nor would he have ended up like bandmate Ringo Starr, who puts together wacky revues with his All Starr Band. Considering his commitment to charity and his esoteric latter-day music, George Harrison probably would have ended up being a reasonable model for Lennon's life.

  • His Later Music Would Be Experimental, says Yoko Ono in an interview with NME, in which she suggests Lennon would be involved with "new music, using the computer."
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