I was there when the Beatles were new. As a small boy, I nagged for Beatles wallpaper and had my own copy of "She Loves You." In the school playground, we divided over whether our favourite Beatle was Paul or John as easily as the boys divided into Liverpool and Everton fans. My favourite was, and is, John.
There is no doubt John Lennon was a great songwriter. In his way he changed the world. There is something rather sad, however, about his "Imagine" topping the poll as the "Nation's favourite song". Think about it. The lyrics are ridiculous. A multimillionaire urging us to "imagine no possessions" even as he acquired an entire apartment building in New York, piece by piece, to give him space and privacy. The same multimillionaire who had urged us to "give peace a chance" even as he funded the IRA's terrorist campaign.
John had talent, but he was not very bright. In the 1930's, perhaps idealistic socialism was justifiable. But by the time "Imagine" was written, more than half of mankind was living under socialist regimes of various kinds. It was the largest political experiment in history, and the empirical evidence was clear that socialism sucked. People were prepared to risk the Berlin Wall death run or to face Carribean sharks to escape it. If the Berlin Wall had fallen down, there was no doubt which way the human tide would flow. Lennon was either exploiting the naievity of his young audience (including me) or he was stupid. I would prefer to think he was stupid.
That we still fall for this nonsense, decades on, does not fill me with hope for our immediate political prospects. A nation of dreamers will lead us all into a nightmare.
BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Lennon beats Beatles in song poll