Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What is an "A-Lister"?

You hear it everywhere on tabloid shows - a new rating system they've invented to tell us who THEY think are the most valuable Hollywood so-called "stars" - to influence us to believe these people are greater than they are. When I hear them refer to certain people as "A-listers," sometimes I'm taken aback. What IS this new rating system tabloidists have invented? Is it something political? Are public relations firms PAYING for these so-called ratings? I'd like to know! Because the "A-listers" they chase after and talk about non-stop appear to be average, mediocre people with very little talent, with one differentiating factor: something they've done has caused them to be chased by paparazzi; they're famous for being famous. Do these so-called "A-listers" have any proven track record or any great accomplishments? For the most part, I've observed that those who garner all this attention haven't the accomplishments commensurate with the attention they're getting. So what is this media-driven ratings system? I wonder.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

What John Lennon Meant by "Imagine"

I've been a fan of John Lennon's music since I was born. I was intensely inspired by his gift and his incredible way of fusing universal thoughts with gorgeous melodies. To me, he was magical and phenomenal. He inspired me like no other artist. But, as I grew older and more aware, I was astounded by the hate people felt toward him - the resentment, the jealousy. Mostly I was confused and baffled that people could possibly reinterpret his beautiful song "Imagine" to be anything but a positive anthem.

I've thought about it for many years and having read almost every book and article ever written on John Lennon (to a point) - especially about his political problems - I felt I was informed enough to comment on the topic... but, then, right wing and left wing people came along bringing all the divisiveness in our society - and all the arguments and frustration - I'm sure it would be a nightmare for John Lennon, who, in the '70s was frustrated enough to eschew all social, political or financial involvements 'til his untimely death. I just stopped thinking about it. I stopped listening to his music. I stopped feeling his pain and the pain of his assassination. I wanted to find a resolution and could not go on listening to John's words and music until a real solution revealed itself to me.

That solution came today. A friend sent me this wonderful video: a song John Lennon loved and performed ("Stand By Me"), which, I believe, has achieved (via technology) what John Lennon loved, prayed and hoped for in his lifetime. "This globe-spanning YouTube video is inspiring. It comes from 'Playing For Change.' The group provides resources and education to musicians around the world. The goal is to promote peace and connect people through music. This video represents that mission perfectly. A film crew traveled the world with a single song. At each stop they found musicians to play "Stand by Me." The musicians added their own voice and talents to the song. When edited together, it creates a global ensemble."
Go here to watch the video now.

They say John Lennon was a political activist... but he wasn't. The words to his masterpiece, "Imagine" have been misinterpreted widely and politicized. There were the billboard events ["War is Over (If You Want it)"] which John and Yoko carried out around the world for their peace campaign... and the bed-ins in Amsterdam when they were married. (In a staged publicity stunt, they used the media's usual hounding of them as an opportunity to campaign for world peace and speak out against the Vietnam War. Later, this would prompt an extensive FBI investigation into the supposed covert, anti-American activities of John Lennon, someone with whom Nixon was growing more and more agitated. But John Lennon was simply using Gandhi's principles and techniques of nonviolent action to express the concepts in his own music.) These ideas represented to me a really practical way to create and use art and music to heal the world.

Watching John Lennon heal himself and thus, heal others through his art, had a great influence on me; because of his brand of raw expression, I underwent a long series of healings that began a year before he was assassinated. Even his death would inspire music in me, just as it caught the imagination of the rest of the world. I wrote a song in tribute to him: "Let's Save the Human Race," based on Yoko's statement: "John loved and prayed for the human race; let's do the same for him."