THE SUMMER OF LOVE – 50 YEARS AGO

I have found years provide many benefits.  We are suppose to get a little smarter.  You are suppose to have more answers than you use to.  We are suppose to be the one others look to when a question needs to be answered or a riddle solved.  Sometimes the years don’t let us down.  Sometimes they do.   Years create more wrinkles, a realization that there are not that many years left to do the things one would like to do.  Years also help to put into proper prospective events which are landmarks in one’s life. 

The Summer of Love or so it has been called was truly remarkable in some ways but not in others.  The social upheaval which marked the 1960s was again revolutionized by none other than those adorable mop tops from Liverpool – the Beatles.  I say this with all sincerity as I am a first generation fan and saw the Fabs in Houston in 1965.  My bedroom walls were covered with their photos and I would melt when I looked into Paul’s bedroom eyes.

However, and that is a big word – the year which gave us the unforgettable and ground breaking Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band also gave us the summer’s anthem – All You Need Is Love.  The Beatles performed live for the world to see that June 50 years ago.  They were surrounded by friends and family and of course flowers adorned the studio as John sang again and again All You Need Is Love. 

I all but cringe when I think of that considering his actions less than a year later.  The very same young man who sat on a bench and sang about love would not only commit adultery with another man’s wife but would betray his true blue wife.  He would leave not only Cynthia but their five year old son.  It did not matter he broke their hearts and in effect stamped a big fat thumbs down on his marriage but toward his fans.  It  proved the love he spoke of he knew so little of.

  Sad to say any lessons John learned would end 13 years later on a December night in New York.  However we won’t discuss that equally heartbreaking event.  We will however discuss the seeds sown into John’s life which created the events 50 years ago.

From the numerous articles I have read about John’s early life it is obvious he was the progeny of two totally irresponsible people who cared little for their son.  He was deserted at a very young age by his alcoholic and hapless dad and his over sexed mother could not be bothered to raise her son.  His care provided by his Aunt Mimi.  She did her best no doubt but a true father figure was rarely in John’s life save that of Jim McCartney – father of Paul – whom John was said to have adored.

When John was five the unthinkable happened to him.  His dad reappeared in his life and a true tug of war erupted between John’s parents.  They asked John to chose between them which was a horrible thing to do to a young child.  He chose his Mom and his dad was absent from John’s life for two decades – when he learned his long, lost son was one of the Beatles.   Fred, whom Cynthia described as a greasy drunk arrived at their front door in Weybridge.  John’s mother had been killed by a drunk driver in 1958.

The two people who John should have received affirmation and love were the very two who deprived him of that love.  Such scars never leave.  They may be covered up by success.  They may be obscured by incredible musical talent but the scars will come to the surface at sometime.  Years later John sought that love through music, fame, fortune and eventually in the arms of an off the wall woman from Japan.  Even that did not sooth the wounded soul of the little boy.

I say these things in an effort to level the playing field in my mind.  John was no different than the rest of us.  His candor was part of his charm.  However his charm was splashed across the pages of the world for all to see.  He had his detractors but he also had more fans than Carter had pills.  His legacy shows no signs of ebbing.

The summer which began with All You Need Is Love and the unforgettable tunes of Sgt. Pepper would end sadly when Beatles manager Brian Epstein was found dead in his London home.  The safe world for the Beatles was eroding and the world which they had provided for a generation of fans was soon to disappear.  We would face Viet Nam and our own set of broken dreams.  We would face John’s loss and grieve as never before.  We would be wounded and find solace in the realities of God’s love and that of His Son Jesus,.  We would attend class reunions and remember when.  And when we do attend those reunions it is a safe bet All You Need Is Love will be sung.

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