Tag Archives: John Lennon

John Lennon Instant Karma

John Lennon Instant Karma

January 27, 1970

While only a few might say that Instant Karma is John Lennon’s greatest song, many would agree that it’s one of his best solo works.

No matter where one ranks it (if one needs to do that to begin with) most songs do not happen in one day, but with Instant Karma, one day it was. The way John describes it: “I wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch and we’re putting it out for dinner.”

Only the dinner reference is hyperbole. It took ten days to release!

John Lennon Instant Karma

Third single

John Lennon Instant Karma

Instant Karma was the third Lennon single to appear before the official Beatles breakup.

John Lennon Instant Karma

Melinde Kendall

According to the Beatles Bible site, “Its title came from Melinde Kendall, the wife of Yoko Ono’s former husband Tony Cox. She had used the phrase in conversation during Lennon and Ono’s stay with them in Denmark during December 1969 and the following month.”

John Lennon Instant Karma

Inspiration

According to Lennon himself, “It just came to me. Everybody was going on about karma, especially in the Sixties. But it occurred to me that karma is instant as well as it influences your past life or your future life. There really is a reaction to what you do now. That’s what people ought to be concerned about. Also, I’m fascinated by commercials and promotion as an art form. I enjoy them. So the idea of instant karma was like the idea of instant coffee: presenting something in a new form. I just liked it.” [from David Sheff’s All We Are Saying]

Phil Spector

It was January 27, 1970. Phil Spector was visiting George Harrison in London and John called George about the project. George suggested Phil produce. They booked time at the studio that evening.  There were just four people: John on piano, George on acoustic guitar, Klaus Voormann on bass, and Alan White on drums. Very late that night, Billy Preston and some friends helped add vocal backgrounds.

Instant Karma!

The flip side was Yoko Ono’s Who Has Seen the Wind.

John Lennon Instant Karma

Tinker v Des Moines 1969

Tinker v Des Moines 1969

1969. It was a time of empowerment. Blacks. Women. College students. The disabled. LGBTQ. Migrant laborers.  Native Americans. Immigrants.

And high school students.

Tinker v Des Moines

 

Tinker v Des Moines 1969

December 16, 1965

On December 11, 1965, high school student Christopher Eckhardt held a meeting with a group of students at his Des Moines, Iowa home. The group decided to wear black armbands in school on December 16 as both a Vietnam War protest and in support of Robert F Kennedy’s proposed extension of a truce the Viet Cong proposed truce on Christmas Eve. The student would keep wearing the bands until January 1, 1966.

Principals of the Des Moines schools learned of the plan and on December 14, 1965, adopted a policy that required any student wearing an armband in school to remove it. Any student who refused would be suspended until they agreed to comply.

On December 16, 1965, Chrisopher Eckhardt (16), Mary Beth Tinker (13) and her siblings, Hope (11) and Paul (8) wore black armbands. Christopher and Mary were suspended. The two younger students were not.  Mary Beth’s brother, John Tinker (15), was suspended for doing the same on the following day.

Tinker v DesMoines
Mary and John Tinker
Tinker v Des Moines 1969

Echhardt explains why

Christopher Eckhardt: I wore the black armband over a camel-colored jacket. The captain of the football team attempted to rip it off. I turned myself in to the principal’s office where the vice principal asked if ‘I wanted a busted nose.’ He said seniors wouldn’t like the armband. Tears welled up in my eyes because I was afraid of violence. He called my mom to get her to ask me to take the armband off. Then he called a school counselor in. The counselor asked if I wanted to go to college, and said that colleges didn’t accept protesters. She said I would probably need to look for a new high school if I didn’t take the armband off.

Tinker v Des Moines 1969

The beginning

The Iowa Civil Liberties Union approached the families and the ACLU agreed to help the family with a lawsuit. The Tinker and Eckhardts filed suit in U.S. District Court which upheld the board’s decision.

Tinker v Des Moines

Continues

A tie vote in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit meant that the U.S. District Court’s decision continued to stand.

Continues still…

The Tinkers and Eckhardts to appealed to the Supreme Court. The case was argued before the court on November 12, 1968.

Decided

On February 24, 1969 the US Supreme Court sided with the Tinkers in  Tinker v. Des Moines. Justice Abe Fortas delivered the opinion of the 7-2 majority. The Supreme Court held that the armbands represented pure speech that is entirely separate from the actions or conduct of those participating in it. The Court also held that the students did not lose their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech when they stepped onto school property. In order to justify the suppression of speech, the school officials must be able to prove that the conduct in question would “materially and substantially interfere” with the operation of the school. In this case, the school district’s actions evidently stemmed from a fear of possible disruption rather than any actual interference. (Tinker article) [Oyez article]

Tinker v Des Moines Independent Community School District
Mary Beth Tinker, and her brother, John Tinker, stand next to locker 319 in 2013 at Harding Elementary School in Des Moines
Tinker v Des Moines 1969

John & Yoko

Appropriately, on December 16, 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono put up eleven billboards in major cities worldwide with the slogan: War Is Over!

Tinker v Des Moines 1969
John & Yoko’s billboard
Tinker v Des Moines 1969

John F. Tinker Foundation

Today, the  mission of the John F. Tinker Foundation is to promote awareness and understanding of the First Amendment rights of students and teachers, and to facilitate civil conversation about controversial social issues.

Here is a link to a 2019 Smithsonian Magazine article entitled The Young Anti-War Activists Who Fought for Free Speech at School

Tinker v Des Moines 1969

Rolling Stones Circus 1968

Rolling Stones Circus 1968

Rolling Stones Circus
Rolling Stones Circus

Almost Woodstock

Less than nine months before the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and its 130-plus performers, the Rolling Stone Circus came to town.

Organized by the Rolling Stones just after their release of Beggars Banquet, they were looking for a way to promote the album in a fun way. Why not a Rock and Roll Circus?

Rolling Stones Circus 1968

December 11, 1968

They filmed it on December 11, 1968. As well as clowns and acrobats, John Lennon and Yoko Ono performed as part of a super group called The Dirty Mac which included Eric Clapton and Mitch Mitchell, and Keith Richards. The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, and Jethro Tull also performed. It was originally meant to be aired on BBC, but the Rolling Stones withheld it because they were unhappy with their performance. A film was eventually released in 1996.

Here’s the Lennon clip with some wonderful conversation between Mick and John before “Yer Blues.” Two mates having some fun.

Jumpin’ Jack Flash” with Woodstock Music and Art Fair alum Nicky Hopkins on piano (he sat in with the Jefferson Airplane for their sunrise serenade).

Rolling Stones Circus 1968

Brian Jones

Sadly, this also marked the final appearance of Brian Jones, who died within six months of filming the special.

The Ultimate Classic Rock site saysFor all the controversy and mystery surrounding it..‘The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus’ now comes across as a quaint time capsule of the last days of Swingin’ London. And as strange as the idea of combining a rock concert and a circus may be, it manages to work, even if the only person who wasn’t stoned was the guy who ate fire. 

Rolling Stones Circus 1968