Everyone over the age of 35 remembers this week vividly from the year 1980. December 8, 1980. John Lennon would have been 70 now and it is interesting to think about where he would be and what he would be doing right now. My guess is he would be an unflagging antiwar activist, perhaps living in NYC still and enjoying the city’s proliferation of farmer’s markets and vegan/vegetarian cuisine.
But in 1964, Lennon was eating pretty much what the rest of the Beatles were eating. In an interview with Gene Love, Ringo Starr summed up their standard fare: “We eat steak usually if we go out. Steak and chips. Eggs and chips. Beans. Bacon. Chicken.” For an undisclosed period of time, the Beatles’ breakfast of choice was marijuana, although Lennon also enjoyed corn flakes.
Later on, Lennon’s proclivity for “health food” (that’s what they called it in the 60s and 70s) perhaps proves that once again he was ahead of his time. When his son Sean was a baby, Lennon became a stay-at-home dad, trying his hand at homemade bread and dabbling in art.
Bloomberg’s Mark Beech, in a humorous “what if” post on Lennon at 70, surmises he would have adopted a macrobiotic diet by now (with occasional splurges on fish and chips and Brandy Alexanders). He also would have admonished his “chum” President Obama for not passing a bill requiring free organic food for the homeless.
Lennon considered his 1966 song, “Strawberry Fields Forever” as one of his best works. And yet it has nothing to do with his taste for the fruit. In fact, Strawberry Fields was the name of a boy’s orphanage near his boyhood home. Lennon says he spent many happy hours hanging out in the woodlands behind it. In a 1980 Playboy interview, Lennon tried to explain why he felt so alienated from the world.
“I thought I was crazy or an egomaniac for claiming to see things other people didn’t see…It caused me to always be a rebel. This thing gave me a chip on the shoulder; but, on the other hand, I wanted to be loved and accepted. Part of me would like to be accepted by all facets of society and not be this loudmouthed lunatic musician. But I cannot be what I am not.”
As someone who hated to look backwards or live in the past, Lennon might have been uncomfortable with all the retrospectives on his life. His musical genius and outspokenness on the ills of society means he cannot be forgotten. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but all I want to know is, how did his homemade bread taste? I think I’m missing the point. Whether creating a piece of music or perfecting a recipe for fresh bread, Lennon no doubt feasted more figuratively–on making a change, on positive disruption–than literally on food.