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Pop Music Emergence in the USA

Discuss about the City In the Popular Music Culture.

Pop music emerged in United States. Pete Seeger is to be contributed for enhancing the clarity of the readers regarding the genre specifications: folk and fine arts. Swing craze was one of the popular dance forms of pop music in the early twenties. Rudy Vallee was the first exemplar of pop music star. Typical examples of the pop include The Monkees in 1960[1]. Along with this, blues, jazz, rock, blues, gospel among others had a significant impact on the global music culture of America. As a matter of specification, people got the taste of pop culture in the early 20th century. This was the turning point in the American music, as new elements were considered for discovering the other genres. During the period of 1940-1980, people witnessed the emergence of singers like John Lennon, Bob Dylan among others. 1950s was the time, when the people enjoyed the form of rock and roll. In the Blues, there was a conglomeration of Anglo-Celtic culture and American culture[2]. The popularity of rock and roll exerted dominance over American pop in 1960s.

Fusion can also be found in the cultures of Africa and America in the genre of Blues. The spirituals were also correlated with the spirituals in case of Appalachian music. This was adapted for the pop audiences, which gained prominence in the beginning of 1920.

John Winston Lennon was an English singer, composer and peace activist. He is popularly known as the co-founder of Beatles. In teenage, he was engaged in skiffle craze, a conglomeration of jazz, blues and folk culture. 1957 was the time when he formed the band, Quarrymen. This band led to the formation of Beatles in 1960[3]. Before the break up of the band in April 1970, Lennon earned fame by recording his solo performance- Give Peace a Chance and Instant Karma. This recording enhanced his confidence regarding making albums- John Lennon/Plastic Ono band and Imagine. This also included songs like Working Class Hero and Happy Xmas (War is Over). 1969 was the time when he married Yoko Ono.

Lennon’s rebellious nature was reflected in his creations. His beliefs made him one of the most controversial figures in the American culture. He was a strong believer of Christianity. Typical evidence of this lies in his claim that Beatles is “bigger than Jesus”. This statement compelled him to witness decline in the fame for rock and roll. There were mass protests criticizing Lennon for such blasphemed statement[4].  In his arguments, he said that it was just an expression for telling the audience about the importance, which Beatles holds to him. He grounded his statement through his hard core belief in the Christianity.

John Lennon's Early Life and Musical Journey

His distaste for church was found in his childhood when he was kicked out of the church for giggling during the mass. In 1972, Lennon indulged in written collaboration with Roberts for the statements. These statements reflected his spiritual ideas and beliefs[5].  

The musical revolution that was initiated by John Lennon in the 1970’s was unparalleled. Imagine is one of the famous creations of Lennon, which was loved and adored at the same time. The futuristic views of Lennon is rrefle4cted through the track which is more relevant to the scenario  of the present world than the time in which it was created, 30 years back. The simplistic yet deep morphology of the different issues that might be faced by the world relating to religions and the division of the regions as countries is reflected through the song. “Imagine” was released in the year  October 1971 on Vinyl, which was due to the high demand for the meaningful lyrics on melody. The song contains a strong political meaning, which is softened by the melody. Lennon believed that the melody, being softer in nature would be reaching out to a wider range of audience, which will be helping him to spread his message more easily.  The wide acceptance of the song has helped in spreading out the message that Lennon wanted to forward to all the people. 

Initially, Lennon took the credit of being the sole writer of the song; however, later claimed that the role of his wife Yoko Ono was no less while the song was composed. The initial idea of the song was derived from Yoko’s book Grapefruit, which included lines like "Imagine the sky crying..." or "Imagine you're a cloud." Lennon told the BBC in an interview, "I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution … If it had been Bowie, I would have put Lennon-Bowie... I just put 'Lennon' because she's just the wife and you don't put her name on, right?"[6] The acclamation of Lennon made the  National Music Publishers' Association to announce that Yoko would be added as a songwriter for "Imagine." It was perhaps the greatest honour that Yoko was bestowed with.

The Socio- Political background that affected the song was perhaps the anarchism that was going on in the mind of Lennon. However, he never denied the need for a government but advocated the one- world government. Lennon was a promoter of peace and thus to promote peace in the nations he appealed to have a single governmental body.  Plural countries, according to him, will be setting up different wars that will be devastating mankind. In the year 1969, the US- Vietnam war created a havoc impact, which caused the formation of the song[7]. The song clearly stated the needs of the people to act as though they dwell in a singular platform where riots and outbreaks would not affect the global scenario.

Lennon's View on Religion and Controversies

On the other hand, the depiction of the religious sentiments has helped Lennon to identify the issues that are faced by Lennon and the manner in which the song can bring back awareness among the people of the hypocrisy. Lennon was assumed to be an atheist, and the song clearly stated that the world would have been a better place without any religion. Lennon once compared the growing fame of Beatles to Jesus in a public interview. He said, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me”[8].   The rock ‘n’ roll revolution has helped to bring in changes in the forms of music thereby making the same adorable. Lennon being a promoter of peace and an atheist, by nature, has helped in the proper evolution of the lyrical qualities of the song. It has helped in maintaining the different standards of utilizing the song as a medium of getting to the contemporary issues that are faced by the people while living in the globalized village. 

The song Imagine was written with the view of reaching out to the mass audience and thereby promotes peace. Lennon conceived the idea of spreading the message of the peace through the creation of the song[9]. The central idea of the song was to deal with the issues that were faced by the people due to the differences in the religions and the division of the world through the different borders. The song was written in a social condition where the US- Vietnam war was raging. On the other hand, the communal harmony was found to be at stake through the frivolous riots relating to the religions and their sustenance in the contemporary world. In such a situation, Lennon wrote the song that depicted the socio- political and the religious issues that affected the wellbeing of the people through their minute afflictions on the peace.


The song aimed at making the people aware of the different fallacies that ruled them and the simplistic approach that was catered by Lennon reflected through the song. “Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky[11].” The metaphorical depictions of the concepts of heaven and hell and the manner in which the world could have been made simpler without the concepts are also depicted through the lyrics. Again, Lennon stressed on the word “Peace” where there would be a singular governance in the world. According to him it will be resolving the issues that are faced by the people due to the differences in the religions and cultures of the people.“Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too, Imagine all the people living life in peace.” Similar views were shared by Bob Marley in “One World” where the universality of the governance is mentioned.

The Socio-Political Backdrop of Lennon's Time

The movement that was initiated by Lennon helped in bringing forth changes in the music industry. The depiction of the realism and the manner in which the contemporary issues relating to the politics and the society construction was blended in the melody helped in reaching out to a vast amount of audience[13]. On the other hand, the identification of the issues and the manner in which the people can be made aware of the different ways of being indulged in the scenario has helped in bringing forth positive results.  The song was based on bringing in changes in the social, the cultural aspects and the stereotypes that were followed by the people in the contemporary 1970’s. The identification of the different contemporary issues and the prediction of the future has resisted the present situations. The song depicted more of the communal harmony and the manner in which the diversity can be managed has helped the author, Lennon in reaching out his idea to the world.


Therefore, from the above discussion it may be concluded that the very idea that was conceived by Lennon for Imagine was based on his message of peace to the entire world. Communal harmony  and the biasness that is imbedded by the religious practices helps in identifying the motif of Lennon to make the people aware of the true essence of humanity, which stood much above the varied protocols and customs that the religions can offer. The simplistic language that was used in the song’s lyrics simply initiated the movement of not complicating the different philosophies and thereby interpreting the same to fulfil the needs of any individual or groups. The socio- political reforms and the religious attritions has helped in enhancing the understanding of the song by Lennon.

References

Cohen, Sara. Decline, renewal and the city in popular music culture: Beyond the Beatles management. Routledge, 2017.

Lennon, J. (2018). John Lennon: One of Jesus' "Biggest Fans". [online] CBN.com - The Christian Broadcasting Network. Available at: https://www1.cbn.com/books/john-lennon%3A-one-of-jesus%27-%22biggest-fans%22 [Accessed 4 Jun. 2018].

Lennon, John. "Lennon, John." American Countercultures: An Encyclopedia of Nonconformists, Alternative Lifestyles, and Radical Ideas in US History (2015): 431.

Mäkelä, Janne. John Lennon imagined: cultural history of a rock star. Vol. 4. Peter Lang, 2004.

Sheff, David. All we are saying: The last major interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono management. St. Martin's Griffin, 2010.

Taylor, Timothy D. Global pop: World music, world markets management. Routledge, 2014

[1] Taylor, Timothy D. Global pop: World music, world markets. Routledge, 2014.

[2] Cohen, Sara. Decline, renewal and the city in popular music culture Management : Beyond the Beatles. Routledge, 2017.

[3] Lennon, John. "Lennon, John." American Countercultures: An Encyclopedia of Nonconformists, Alternative Lifestyles, and Radical Ideas in US History (2015): 431.

[4]Lennon, J. (2018). John Lennon: One of Jesus' "Biggest Fans". [online] CBN.com - The Christian Broadcasting Network. Available at: https://www1.cbn.com/books/john-lennon%3A-one-of-jesus%27-%22biggest-fans%22 [Accessed 4 Jun. 2018].

[5] Lennon, John. "Lennon, John." American Countercultures: An Encyclopedia of Nonconformists, Alternative Lifestyles, and Radical Ideas in US History (2015): 431.

[6] Lennon, J. (2018). John Lennon: One of Jesus' "Biggest Fans". [online] CBN.com - The Christian Broadcasting Network. Available at: https://www1.cbn.com/books/john-lennon%3A-one-of-jesus%27-%22biggest-fans%22 [Accessed 4 Jun. 2018].

[7] Sheff, David. All we are saying: The last major interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. St. Martin's Griffin, 2010.

[8] Taylor, Timothy D. Global pop: World music, world markets. Routledge, 2014.

[9] Lennon, J. (2018). John Lennon: One of Jesus' "Biggest Fans". [online] CBN.com - The Christian Broadcasting Network. Available at: https://www1.cbn.com/books/john-lennon%3A-one-of-jesus%27-%22biggest-fans%22 [Accessed 4 Jun. 2018].

[10] Sheff, David. All we are saying: The last major interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. St. Martin's Griffin, 2010.

[11] Lennon, John. "Lennon, John." American Countercultures: An Encyclopedia of Nonconformists, Alternative Lifestyles, and Radical Ideas in US History (2015): 431.

[12] Cohen, Sara. Decline, renewal and the city in popular music culture: Beyond the Beatles. Routledge, 2017.

[13] Mäkelä, Janne. John Lennon imagined: cultural history of a rock star. Vol. 4. Peter Lang, 2004.

[14] Lennon, John. "Lennon, John." American Countercultures: An Encyclopedia of Nonconformists, Alternative Lifestyles, and Radical Ideas in US History (2015): 431.

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