Just in time for the 40th anniversary of the release of the White Album (but probably a coincidence) the Vatican has released a statement praising the Beatles music, and chalking up Lennon’s 1966 comment about Jesus as the bragging of a young man wrestling with unexpected success. And to the Vatican we say, Dudes, what took ya so long?!
If you are a baby boomer like me, or a student of musical history, then you will most likely be familiar with the big kafuffle involving John Lennon’s remark about the Beatles and Jesus. The controversy was huge. It was the Dixie Chicks/George Bush go-round of its day. Here’s the backstory. In an interview reported in 1966, Lennon was asked about Beatlemania, and he quipped that they were “more popular than Jesus now.” I remember hearing it at the time and thinking it merely meant that you could probably walk up to a group of tribal people living in one of the few remaining isolated areas of the planet and ask who Jesus was and get a blank stare, but mention the Beatles and they would break into broad grins and start chanting, “Yeah-yeah-yeah!” Okay maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.
After Lennon’s remark – which, in a situation eerily similar to the Dixie Chicks, was made in London but didn’t gain traction until is was reported stateside – the Bible Belt and conservative groups went nuts, just like they did with the Chicks, and burned loads of Beatles albums. Beatles music was banned on some radio stations, and concerts were cancelled. Even the KKK got into the act, burning the Beatles in effigy and nailing their albums to burning cross. At first, the Beatles’ reaction was to wryly observe that they had to purchase the albums first in order to burn them, but eventually, as things kept on getting worse, Lennon issued an apology, which the Vatican accepted at the time. Actually, Lennon was often misquoted as having said the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus” but personally, I don’t think the results would have been much different either way.
Anyway, in their recent statement, the Vatican also said that Beatles music is much better than the “standardized, stereotypical” music of today. Well, gotta say Amen to that!
Here's a Beatle selection that kind of fits the occasion, "I Should Have Known Better"
Video by YT member Beetulz Photo at www.planetware.com
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.