10 October 2020 14:39
John Lennon at 80 Radio 2 Desert Island Discs Radio 4 I DON'T like The Beatles. It's a divisive view, but not as divisive as my previous position of actively hating The Beatles, holding them in much the same regard as Public Enemy held Elvis. Like many of my strongly-held beliefs, that has softened with time and experience. Ironically much of the reason for my distaste for the Fab Four can be laid at the speaker of Radio Two, the easy listening station which pumped out the more saccharine of their offerings during most of my teenage years when I was a captive audience being driven around by my father or doing my homework in the back of his grocery shop. Ironic because it was that station to which I actively tuned in for `John Lennon at 80'.
It was less Damascene conversion and more prurient interest as it was presented by his younger son Sean and promised a conversation with elder brother Julian. It promised to be a rare glimpse into the relationship between the only children of one of the most famous men in the world, Sean himself commenting: "We've never really spoken about our dad in public." And it was a beautiful conversation, the eclectic music of Lennon snr providing the backbeat for a wide-ranging conversation about the superstar whom they had only known as children but could now see more clearly, 40 years after his death, through the lens of adulthood. Having heard along with everyone else the tales of Julian's bitterness at being thrown over along with his mother for Sean's mother Yoko Ono, it warmed my Beatles ambivalent heart to hear the obvious affection between the pair and the elder brother tell the younger: "More than anything I'm just glad that we're here, that you and I love each other and are able to connect and talk so openly... You are my family." An interview with Paul McCartney in the second part touched on the troubled upbringing which had left such an indelible mark on the complicated troubadour, and it was a troubled upbringing which was centre stage in Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, when the understated brilliance of Lauren Laverne allowed actor Samantha Morton the space to share a searingly honest account of growing up in a broken care system. But there was laughter among the tears and a reminder "it's all bigger than we know and it's better than we know".