Every Spring is different. Every Spring is also the same.
One of my favorite books is ‘The Lennon Factor’ by Paul Young. It was out-of-print when I took the University of Missouri’s library copy and photocopied it page by page. It may still be out-of-print or only available electronically – it’s hard to tell by a Google search. It’s an oddly formatted book in which the lines of prose jump all over the page like a poem. It does not line up into a neat column with easily discernable sentences and paragraphs. That it went out of print is illustrative of the manner in which it was dismissed. That it has never quite gone away is illustrative of the resonance of its message. A deft social commentary with flower-power structure.
‘The Lennon Factor’ examines how social movements are triggered; in this case and in particular the sweeping changes of the 1960’s. In a nutshell it says there must be tinder in the form of social, political, or economic unrest (one could argue these are all the same), and something, which may or may not have anything to do with the movement itself, to spark that tinder into combustion; only then do social movements acquire momentum. The author examines the slowly building social discontent through the 1950’s in both the United States and Great Britain, then the serious political events of the early 1960’s in both nations. In the United States, President John F. Kennedy had just been assassinated, and the author writes it was as if everyone had taken a collective deep breath – “What’s going to happen next?”
What happened next, in the United State in February 1964, were The Beatles. The Beatles are credited with fronting the vast wave of changes that we know today as The 60’s. The Beatles were simply musicians, albeit musicians of a very different genre. They didn’t cause the 60’s directly, they didn’t intend to initiate vast changes, they likely didn’t understand what was happening around them; they were just kids trying to play their guitars and have fun. But they were the accelerant that ignited the tinder across society in both nations and beyond. They were the spark. And the spark that brought them into being was its founder, John Lennon.
Today, there are serious political events in both the United States and Great Britain. There is uncertainty socially and economically. It’s as if everyone has taken a collective deep breath – What’s going to happen next.
It will be something that seems inconsequential when it comes. Maybe another music act, but I doubt it. Maybe a computer game. Maybe a television show. Maybe some artwork. There’s no way of knowing ahead of time. There’s no way of knowing if it will start with a spark or a slow burn. There’s no way of knowing the direction the firestorm will take when the tinder ignites.
There will be a Lennon Factor – might be already. Something will happen next.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.