Beatles: Still Bigger Than Jesus (Not!)


This breaking news just
in: John Lennon and Generalissimo Francisco Franco are BOTH still dead. No firm
decision made yet on Jesus, however.


By Fred Mills


According to European media reports the Pope, via Italy’s L’Osservatore Romano (described as the
“semi-official Vatican newspaper”), has granted a more-or-less pardon to John
Lennon for his notorious 1966 comment about the Beatles being bigger than


For those who’ve only heard about the incident from their
grandparents, Lennon had told a reporter during an interview with the London Evening Standard,
“Christianity will go,” he said. “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.”



Subsequently the American media and religious powers-that-be
in America essentially crucified Lennon in public – right wing nuts even
organized Beatles record-burning events – and the pop star was eventually
browbeat by his handlers into issuing what was considered, at that point in
time at least, a career-saving apology-by-way-of-clarification of what he really meant.


Said Lennon, “I was not saying whatever they’re saying
I was saying. I’m sorry I said it really. I never meant it to be a lousy
anti-religious thing. I apologise if that will make you happy. I still do not
know quite what I’ve done. I’ve tried to tell you what I did do, but if you
want me to apologise, if that will make you happy, then OK, I’m sorry.”



Well, that made folks “happy.” Then the Beatles went back to
their business of becoming bigger than Jesus.



But for chrissakes – here we are, 42 years later, and a
bunch of tight-assed clergymen are descending from the mount to let John off
the hook after all these years? Wrote the Romano, in an article published this past Saturday marking the 40th anniversary of The White Album, “The
remark by John Lennon, which triggered deep indignation mainly in the United
States, after many years sounds only like a ‘boast’ by a young working-class
Englishman faced with unexpected success, after growing up in the legend of
Elvis and rock and roll.”




Lennon was right – about the “thick and ordinary” part, that
is. His original comment was frontloaded with an astute insight into what was
happening with young people at the time and certainly what was bubbling under
culturally. It was social commentary he was making, not a cocky young man’s boast or even a
condemnation of Jesus.





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