We had a very pleasant time here last night. It was our end-of-summer street party. All five blocks of the street were closed off and parties of various types were happening. At the far end they had a sit down dinner right down the middle of the street. The folks in the middle had a stand up wine and food meal in which people stood around and discussed golf and politics.
Our end of the street was where the wildest party took place. At one point, musical instruments came out and a group of maybe twelve us were singing and playing. Singing and playing songs that everyone knew. These days that means either Christmas songs or baby boomer songs. So we sang baby boomer songs.
One of the songs we sang was Norwegian Wood. In the quiet between songs after that one was over I asked the guy who started it, "How do you feel about that one morally?" He and three others closest to me, just looked at me. They couldn't figure out the point of the question. I went on, "Well, the guy doesn't get anywhere with this girl so he torches her place."
The reaction was beautiful. The looks on their faces as it dawned on them that that was indeed what the song described was priceless. It had apparently never occurred to any of them to wonder what the lyrics meant.
Which ought to give us pause as one of the things John Lennon fans say the really like about the guy are his lyrics.
Anyway, there was a weird sort of scramble as it suddenly hit these guys that the song they loved was really about an arrogant pop star fantasizing about violence against women because a woman he met didn't put out. A thought that ought to disturb us all the more when we consider that there is reason to at least worry that Lennon had a history of violence against women. "I didn't mean to hurt you" (from Jealous guy by John Lennon)
And then, just when things seemed darkest, one of the guys said, "I just sing the songs." As if to say, it doesn't really have anything to do with me.
And I thought, how easily we tolerate this sort of stuff. Here is a song with attitudes that every guy on my street affects to hate but wrap it up in a nice melody and associate it with "THE BEATLES" and everything is okay.