(Eppy did that by dying; Yoko just gets the blame),
I do agree with most of what this author says.
One statement that struck gold with me was:
"Given their supposed sanctity, her licensing of Lennon's songs for TV commercials remains impossible to fathom. The same goes for her callous denial of access and inheritance to Julian, John's son from his first marriage to Cynthia."
As Yoko Ono sanctions more and more exploitation of John Lennon's relatively meagre post-Beatle output, his legacy diminishes and the legend fades, writes Michael Dwyer.
THE JOHN LENNON I see every day is half the man I had stuck to my bedroom wall as a teenager. Back then it was the individual head shot that came with the Beatles' White Album. Independent and resolute, the long-haired, clean-shaven, denim-clad John was top dog in a column of four faces that ruled my world.
Today it's an expensive framed lithograph that hangs beside my bed. It's one of Lennon's doodled self-portraits - or rather a classy reprint job authorised by Yoko Ono in 1988. The not-very-limited edition number is 986/3000E, which suggests she may have run off one for every credulous Beatles obsessive on earth within a certain tax bracket.
Investment folly aside, I have mixed feelings about it these days. John's face is one spectacle and a nose. The rest of him climbs into his wife's smiling, squiggled form like a child disappearing into his mother's skirts. The yin-yang symbol it suggests is its essence. John and Yoko: two bodies, one person.
Which is all very sweet, except that a further 17 years after Lennon's bodily departure, the cosmic balance is irrevocably out of whack.
With every upgraded album reissue, re-jigged hits compilation and tarted-up barrel scraping stamped with Yoko Ono Lennon's copyright, the people's pop hero seems to vanish further into the smiling squiggle's voluminous folds.
Ono's dead rocker income, estimated by Forbes at $US22 million, was second only to the Elvis Presley estate's this year. And good luck to her, I'd say, except that in terms of quality control, the management of her husband's legacy has slipped way beyond the pale. Her tireless efforts to spit polish and remarket Lennon's patchy solo output is increasingly undermining whatever potency it once had.
The first shocker was her basement-dredging four-CD box of 1998, Anthology. Though obviously seeking to parallel the Beatles' archival project of the same name, it had little of that set's sense of archaeological revelation, instead mistaking the mere existence of shoddy concert and rehearsal tapes, outtakes and dialogue grabs as evidence of the great songwriter's genius.
A key problem was in the calibre of the original product. The Beatles' work was multi-layered, progressive, innovative in structure and composition, eminently suited to deconstruction. Lennon's solo work, by contrast, had striven for simplicity since his first, brilliantly spare solo album of December 1970, Plastic Ono Band. Blueprints of God, Mother and Working Class Hero amounted to the elaboration he'd pointedly eschewed in the first place.
Last December the Lennon Acoustic album represented a new nadir of disrespect in the guise of celebration. The demo version of Cold Turkey sounded like a cassette left on a car dashboard for an entire summer. Dear Yoko was so piercingly distorted only its namesake could love it. Its most rudimentary takes were an insult to artist, consumer and whoever invented the dictaphone.
This Christmas, the one that follows next week's 25th anniversary of his death and what would have been his 65th birthday, five more John Lennon CDs will be on sale. They include three official compilations and two of his seven early-'70s albums (the remaster of Rock'N'Roll, his contractually extracted covers album of 1975, arrived with a whimper last year).
This week (on Monday), most of Lennon's solo work will also be released through digital music services on the internet. In the afterlife of cyberspace, John Lennon will once again enjoy more hits than Jesus Christ Superstar. But looking through the martyr's robes his widow diligently tends, his body of work is looking thinner than ever.
First in the 2005 reissue program was Peace, Love & Truth, a compilation cumbersomely subtitled, "The musical life and times of John and Yoko. The dream lives on..."
It's a themed assembly of overexposed flag-wavers with a new, personal address from Ono inside, not obviously updated for these troubled times. "Imagine Peace," it reads in full.
It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry as the same old peacenik anthems - Imagine, Happy Xmas (War Is Over), Power to the People,Gimme Some Truth, Love, Give Peace A Chance, etc. - make like dried flowers in the barrels of 21st century guns.
There's something to be said for tenacity and reaffirmation, but 20 years on, surely even Lennon would have found the pragmatic activism of Bono and Bob Geldof more inspiring than remastered slogans from the Vietnam protest era.
This album's claim to the collector's dollar are two remixes, Give Peace A Chance Y2K+ and Give Peace A Chance Remix 2005 (Featuring the Voices of Asia). The latter finds Lennon's pop agitation anthem revisited by a legion of guest rappers - including Parking Lot Pimp, whose charming moniker suggests he's blithely unaware that woman is the nigger of the world.
In various forms, the maddening tune appears three times on the disc, surely enough to make Nelson Mandela turn to violence.
Sound in substance but decidedly lacking in lyricism, this song illustrates a recurring flaw in Lennon's post-Beatles work. His oft-quoted rule of songwriting at this time - "say what it is, simple English, make it rhyme and put a back beat on it" - denied the genius of his own best work. "Power to the people right on" is simply no match for one "elementary penguin singing hari krishna", especially if it's giving Edgar Allen Poe a kicking.
Slogans, unlike poetry, tarnish with age. There's perhaps no better example of this in rock'n'roll than John's and Yoko's worst album, Some Time In New York City, newly remixed and reissued for Christmas '05.
By pegging its potency to an embarrassingly naive tableau of parochial protest, it made the very mistake that Bob Dylan avoided like the pension a decade earlier. Woman Is The Nigger of the World is not so much a song as an aphorism, laboured over a pedestrian arrangement.
Attica State, John Sinclair, The Luck of the Irish, Sunday Bloody Sunday and Angela (who?) are weak songs of only sociological curiosity. As an album, Some Time In New York City sank like a stone and the times kept on a-changin'.
Again, there's no denying the spirit of Lennon's work. As a double vinyl relic of 1972, Some Time in New York City is of immense sentimental and historic value, and a sterling example of grassroots political commitment for pop stars of the future.
Walls and Bridges, the other, deeply flawed original album remastered this year, is also vaguely interesting as a glimpse into the emotional chaos of Lennon's famous "lost weekend" in the arms of Ono's former secretary, May Pang.
But as art, propped up in the new release racks of 2005, both of these albums can only compare poorly with, say, Paul McCartney's latest, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.
Here, now, is a record rooted in poetry and craft, with love and peace as subtext rather than crude headlines, and with its rich air of artistic maturity and self-knowledge earned in the manner that Lennon was simply denied: through a long life.
McCartney and Dylan both endured decades in the wilderness before their astonishing returns to form in recent years. That an artist as gifted, insightful and committed as John Lennon will never be a 60-something songwriter is an unfathomable tragedy. But for his older, wiser audience to continue considering the songs he wrote in his 30s in anything other than the context of that time is increasingly absurd.
"Was it a millionaire," Elvis Costello sang in 1991, "who said, Imagine no possessions?" It was a point few dared make in 1971, when John and Yoko made a film to accompany their hymn to selflessness that showed them lolling about their Georgian mansion in Ascot. Watching it now, one can't help but be struck by the opulence of their lifestyle, even while being moved by the emotional weight of the song.
Such discrepancies chafe with age. In a world acutely aware of the link between greed and war, Ono's apparently venal custodianship of "John's message of peace" is a big one.
Given their supposed sanctity, her licensing of Lennon's songs for TV commercials remains impossible to fathom. The same goes for her callous denial of access and inheritance to Julian, John's son from his first marriage to Cynthia.
That she'd trade every penny of her annual retainer for her husband is beyond serious doubt, of course. John's and Yoko's love was and remains an inspiration, a star-crossed legend of Shakespearian proportions. But business was an obsession they also shared.
In his final interview with BBC radio producer Andy Peebles, two days before his murder, Lennon made the extraordinary revelation that his musically fallow "house husband" phase of 1975 to 1980 was mainly motivated by the fact that Yoko had to take care of business.
"I don't have the talent," he said. "She has the talent to do it. And so I had to contribute something."
That something was the perfectly respectable role of bringing up baby Sean. But it's remarkable that the Lennons saw John's continuing artistic activity as less important than the commercial maintenance of his existing body of work. That static state of creative existence is now set to continue for eternity - or until the market for his old material dries up completely.
In Australia at least, chart figures for this year's reissues suggest that time is nigh. None of the four new collectors' editions - Peace, Love and Truth, Some Time In New York City, Walls and Bridges, a new issue of the old Shaved Fish compilation - reached the top 400. Most telling is that Working Class Hero, the new and "Definitive" 38-track best of, peaked outside the top 50 last month.
One of the bonus tracks on the new Walls and Bridges is a recorded message from Lennon in New York in 1974, made for his EMI colleagues back home. With none of his trademark humour, his address is more like a plea. "The message is, if you like (the album), sell it, if you don't, try and sell it anyway, cause we're all in the same business," he says.
It's a rather deflating Christmas message from the man who dared us to imagine no possessions. But what's exasperating is that Ono and EMI have dipped so low into their barrel of resources that they consider this unflattering sound bite to be appropriate padding. Just to shift a few thousand more units in the name of a disappearing legend.
Meanwhile, back in my bedroom, the John Lennon I once worshipped looks more sickly and transparent every morning. Whatever that spiffy lithograph is worth this Christmas, it will never be as valuable as my beat-up old copy of the White Album.
John and Yoko's scrapbook of madness
On the evening of November 9, 1966, Yoko Ono greeted John Lennon with a card that read "Breathe". History records that he did inhale. Here are 10 of the more colourful side effects.
November 11, 1968
John and Yoko appear starkers on the sleeve of their first recorded collaboration, Unfinished Music Volume 1 - Two Virgins. Lennon summarises the innovation thus: "I've never seen my prick on an album cover before."
John and Yoko make Rape for Austrian television, a film in which a camera crew harasses an unwitting female until "she's cracking up under the strain of these strange people following her around". In his final interview, Lennon remembered the victim fondly: "Beautiful girl. Claimed to be an actress after the film came out."
March 25, 1969
Room 902 of the Amsterdam Hilton is the venue for the first of many "bed-ins" to register John's and Yoko's "protest against all the suffering and violence in the world". Snuggled up with room service, Lennon pronounces it "the best idea we've had."
March 31, 1969
Two people inside a large white bag launch anti-prejudice movement "Bagism" at a Vienna press conference. Their claim to being John and Yoko is only passingly in doubt.
"Acorns For Peace" are gathered with difficulty by Apple Music staff, some raiding squirrels' stashes in London parks. They are sent to world leaders from John and Yoko: "Much better than all that phoney smiling and shaking hands you see in the papers."
July 9, 1969
During a Beatles recording session, a bed containing Yoko arrives in Abbey Road's hallowed Studio 2. George Harrison eloquently echoes the world's concern: "What's she doing 'ere?"
September 13, 1969
John's first concert performance in three years, with hastily assembled Plastic Ono Band (including Eric Clapton) at 24 hours' notice. The Live Peace in Toronto album documents ropy rock'n'roll standards with forgotten words and a shrill, improvised Yoko finale aptly titled John, John (Let's Hope For Peace).
In New York, John and Yoko resume their career in movies. Up Your Legs Forever is 80 minutes of bare bottoms. Fly is 50 minutes of the titular insect crawling on an actress named Virginia Lust. Erection continues John's fascination with his penis.
April 23, 1971
John and Yoko arrested in Spain for allegedly abducting her daughter, Kyoko, from a playground. Child opts to return to her father. Custody battle proceeds along more traditional lines.
Lennon's US visa cancelled on the basis of a 1968 marijuana possession conviction. Perhaps unwisely, he and Yoko record John Sinclair, a song in support of an American doing time for marijuana possession.
from December 3, 2005 article Ono, not you again in Australian publication The Age
Many thanks to madzilla for pointing us at this article.