By Hans Ebert
We don’t know it, but we’re letting things get away from us. Like being stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, we’re getting stuck in the trivialities served up and letting life’s priorities slide. We’re not looking out for Number One. We’re more concerned about what others are doing and which have absolutely no return of investment on our time. And while time keeps ticking, ticking, ticking into the future, we’re wallowing in the past and often leading vicarious lives. We’re everywhere and nowhere, baby. Just listen to the inane conversations that we join in. Why? What’s the point? Where’s any of this going to lead? It’s drunk talk even when sober.
Whether here in Melbourne or when back in Hong Kong, the onslaught of gossip continues with things said that has Lennon’s voice singing to me, “Everybody’s hustling for a buck and dime”. No idea, why it is, but finding the truth, and being with simple honest people with the talent to get things done, seems to be some impossible dream.
Hong Kong is all hyperactive wannabe billionaires, each with their own cons and pipe dreams, whereas Melbourne, with its 24/7 options to gamble, is a crosstown traffic jam of one dimensional racing tragics and a surprisingly large number of people always there for a free lunch, and not what they appear to be. Listen to them and you hear lie after lie after lie, and where, in the end, you don’t know fact from pulp fiction. But this is how these people survive. They have mastered the art of bullshit and people are bamboozled by their tedious name droppings from the distant and irrelevant past, most of which, or all of which, comes from the land of make believe.
In Hong Kong, way too many flaunt wealth, or perceived wealth. In Melbourne, at least if middle aged and married, it seems to be about surviving, making ends meet, and trying to be content about “the quality of life”. Nothing really wrong with either though one wonders how well some of these people sleep at night. Living a lie is hardly the motivation one needs to wake up the next morning.
But this isn’t just about Hong Kong and Melbourne, both with their various quirks and unwanted USPs- Unique Selling Points. It’s about a confused world facing an uncertain future and a trivialised present where constant access to social media, and coming face to face with those living in the past often keeps one stuck in the mire of Nothingness- Lennon’s Nowhere Man having become a community of its own and multiplying like gremlins.
Why and how have we reached this point? Again, Lennon summed it up pretty well when we sang, “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey”.
This was Lennon withdrawing from the world and Beatleland. It was him trying to preserve his sanity and, with Yoko, distancing himself from the bullshit around him. He later returned as that dreamer who asked us to Imagine. He was invigorated, inspired and starting over until that fateful day when Mark Chapman stopped him to ask for his autograph. Should have kept walking, John, should have kept walking.
Going back the other day and listening to Lennon’s music- with the Beatles and on his own- what unfolds is a life story, warts and all- everything from the cry for “Help”, to meeting his “Nowhere Man”, to not being able to be honest with your feelings in “You’ve Gotta Hide Your Love Away”, and the emotional “In My Life”, where he let his guard down to his political activism through his music, his househusband period when he was happy to learn to bake bread, and when he returned for one last bow with Double Fantasy. It’s a musical life lesson well worth studying. It’s therapeutic. It’s healing in its sadness and isolation.
In today’s world where nothing is real and there’s so much to get hung about, especially because of one’s disappointment in people, music still has the power to pull you out of the loneliness and despair. It offers up Hope. It’s your best friend. The only friend you can trust because of its honesty. And right now, in my hotel room in Melbourne, all I need is the musical honesty of John Lennon. The rest is irrelevant. And discardable. The rest are the bastard children of Nowhere Man.