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Nothing Is Real

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Let me take you down, cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real, and nothing to get hung about.

The sandy Ford Explorer sat catty-corner on the parkway verge, one wheel akimbo, spinning aimlessly in the suburban sun. Inside, the driver slumped pale and sweaty, hands gripping the wheel like cup hooks, a look of terror and uncertainty glued to his face like the parental warning sticker on a Beastie Boys CD.

Could he have heard that correctly? He fiddled with the radio dial a bit, scanning between stations. His brow was clammy with astonishment and a slowly creeping realization. Something was wrong. Very wrong. The traffic sped by, seemingly unaware. But the driver knew. Some kind of dimension had been crossed. In time and in space.

And in taste.

LennonBut there was no mistaking the sound of a dozen cheery, zippy voices, mincing about a midtown stage with smiles glued to mugs like cheap tourist NYC decals on plastic pimp cups. Yes, now it was all too loud and clear. The smarmy "I don't know how to love him" style of singing, now applied to Attica State and Woman is the Nigger of the World. That happy little tiptoe across the boards, the wry glance into the orchestra pit, and then - Music Man style - that up-tempo choral version of Mind Games. And there, the dippy little two-part harmony rendition of Cold Turkey.

Can't see no future
Can't see no sky! (Everybody now)

The driver forced himself to face it, to listen to what was certainly a sign of cultural doom (for middle-aged white guys, anyway), to open his ears to the bile-raising strains of:

Lennon: The Musical.

Oh, wherefore art thou, Johnny Boy! What have they done to ye? Do they not recall the radical, the avant garde artist, the slightly crazed crooner? Have they forgotten the angry, Nixon-fighting exile? Do they not recall the sadistic brilliance of How Do You Sleep, when you slew the slack-kneed sagging of McCartney into follow-the-bouncing-ball pop hooey? Why do they foist on a dead man the very expression he reviled: Lennon's very own version of McCartney's Give My Regards to Broad Street?

Love him or hate him, anyone who heard Lennon's voice in its prime knows he doesn't deserve this cultural entombment.

I mean, isn't the Broadway version of Instant Karma - heck, I just feel like singin' and dancin'! - pretty much like a hip-hop version of Cab Calloway's Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?

Or the orchestral send-up of Willie Dixon's Hoochie Coochie Man.

Or the classic Memphis rockabilly numbers by Elvis Presley amidst a schmaltzy Vegas revue.

Oh. Right. Got it.