If Lennon Were Here
By David Daniel
He’d be a different guy. Older, face bonier, nose sharp as a box-cutter, hair like thin grass. He’d be wiry and spry, from yoga and walking everywhere (like Hemingway and Kerouac, he was never one to drive).
And he would still need glasses.
He’d think with wonder about being in his 80s, with a marriage of more than fifty years, and full-grown sons. He’d be surprised, then annoyed, and finally amused when people puzzled at the origin of his middle name.
He would still be popular but not more popular than Jesus, whose stock has surged in recent decades. Nor would he want to be. If he was making music, it’d be for the same reason he did long ago as a sprout in Liverpool and then lost it for a time: Because he wanted to. He’d still spark an occasional smoke and like the odd pint.
He’d sometimes stop and think about Paul and Ringo and George (RIP) and all the lovers and friends that went before.
He’d give away stuff: his books & records & paintings, things neutered by time. Yoko would turn his personal papers, correspondence & old contracts into collages & papier-mâché. None of it would appear on E-Bay, there’d be an agreement about that. His guitars . . . not so easy—the beat-up old Gibson on which he wrote “I Want to Hold Your Hand” long gone at auction. There’d still be a few Rickenbackers hanging on a wall in his apartment, and some gear next to Lake Erie in Cleveland.
He would not go on the road in a tour bus, city-after-city-after-city; leave that for the troubadours. Instead, he’d choose to sit in his nowhere land, watching the wheels go round, making nowhere plans for nobody.
He would still imagine. The old fire would spark up from time to time—a lampoon in the New York Times about so-called leaders and their relentless lying, a word on the BBC about African elephants and rhinos, and folks who believe God loves only their skanky asses. His name would not be on any list of fools calling for the banning of books like The Catcher in the Rye.
If you told him he would never again write songs as fine as “Help,” “In My Life,” “Norwegian Wood,” “Working Class Hero”—that no one can—he’d shrug, tell you to sod off, mind yer own fookin business. But mellow, you know?
On gray days he would sit in an English garden, waiting for the sun. And sometimes he would stand by the letter box, quiet as a ghost, listening to the wind, and waiting for a love letter from you.