Monday, June 25, 2007

OC-Ed -- Resistance

I picture John Lennon singing “All You Need is Love.” He’s the late sixties long-haired Lennon from the “Bed-In” days, except he’s older with grey streaks. He’s sitting on a cloth stool with a beat-up Martin acoustic guitar on the subway. His portable speaker is tinny, making him sound like a bee buzzing around the crowd.

No one is paying attention. The sixties never happened, there’s nothing special about another musician in the subway playing acoustic guitar and singing to no one. They’re all over, moving scenery. When he sings “love, love, love,” he sounds bitter and desperate, his eyes focused on some invisible point ahead.

“There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done,” he sings, his cheek twitching.

“There’s nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.”

The subway screeches to a stop and riders push their way onto the train. The doors close.

“There’s nothing you can do that you can’t learn how to be you in time.”

The train rumbles to a start.

“It’s easy!” Lennon screams as the train leaves the platform.

“All you need is love,” he shouts. His voice is cracking, but his strength won’t fade. “All you need is love.”

A new crowd gathers with their backs to the singer, reading the billboards or holding casual conversations.

“All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.”

He closes his eyes, raging through the coda at the top of his voice.

Love is all you need.

The announcer calls the next station.

Love is all you need.

A train comes from the other direction and the riders bunch together, anticipating where the doors will end up.

Love is al you need.

There is no voice to harmonize, to sing, “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Love is all you need.

There is no orchestra soaring and swirling behind him.

Love is all you need.

Lennon breaks his A string and thrashes on oblivious.

Love is all you need.

Love is all you need.

The song ends suddenly. Lennon takes a deep breath and looks around. None of the people around him were there when he started, or at least he doesn’t recognize anyone. No one claps. No one turns around.

Lennon pulls a new string from his case and quickly winds it into tune, and then rakes up the strings to make sure each pitch is in place. He clears his throat and leans forward into the microphone, again finding his focus off in the distance, and begins again.

“Love, love, love…”

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