A story has made the rounds today which has us scratching our heads. The Toronto Sun reported that in an upcoming Beatles documentary John’s personal assistant from 1979 until John’s death in 1980, Fred Seaman, claimed that in his final years John Lennon was a closet Republican and Reagan fan. From the article:
In new documentary Beatles Stories, Seaman tells filmmaker Seth Swirsky Lennon wasn’t the peace-loving militant fans thought he was while he was his assistant.
He says, “John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.
Well, the sour on Jimmy Carter part we can understand. But that is a very big leap from saying John was a conservative.
“I also saw John embark in some really brutal arguments with my uncle, who’s an old-time communist… He enjoyed really provoking my uncle… Maybe he was being provocative… but it was pretty obvious to me he had moved away from his earlier radicalism.
“He was a very different person back in 1979 and 80 than he’d been when he wrote Imagine. By 1979 he looked back on that guy and was embarrassed by that guy’s naivete.”
Something doesn’t smell right about this story. None of the instances recalled by Mr. Seaman reach the conclusion that either he or The Toronto Sun seem to be proclaiming, that John was a secret Republican. Could he have been disillusioned with Carter? Sure, we know Democrats who would consider voting for a Republican over Obama. It doesn’t make them Republicans. Could he have been embarrassed by his radical past? Sure, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t still left wing. And could John have simply enjoyed arguing with communists? Sure, who doesn’t?
The conclusion that John was a good Republican based on these recollections seems forced at best, and dishonest at worst. But this is what political factions do. They claim celebrities. Even deceased ones. At the end of the day it does not matter what John Lennon believed politically. Right wingers claim they want their celebrities to “shut up and sing/act/dance/whatever.” If more information comes out and this claim is verified it will be interesting to see how the right suddenly starts to appreciate John in a way they just couldn’t do before today. But here at OB&B we don’t care what John’s politics were. Even if it turns out they were more in line with ours than we thought it will not improve the quality of his music in any meaningful way.