Sixties Faces: John Lennon

If the Rock music world gave its people names like Hollywood did its Golden Era film stars, John Lennon would have to be dubbed "The Great Profile", à la John Barrymore.

Since 1964, when I saw this profile shot of John singing "I Should've Known Better" in the baggage cage of a train in the Beatles' first film, A Hard Day's Night, I was hooked on his face. Before then, I'd never really noticed his looks. Unlike most Beatles fans, I was actually listening to the music, learning their songs on my guitar.

As the Beatle years progressed, John's face grew ever more distinctive. That stern nose with the sneering curl on each side, the quick eyes, the intellectual, sarcastic wit that showed--all the components of John's face made him a fascinating person to look at.

To me, his face was ultimately intelligent, and while the other Beatles' faces were cute, sexy, and doleful, John's had a light that bespoke the genius that lay beneath the moptop hair and the flashing photo op smile.

I find it difficult to understand why he had such a complex about his looks; he felt he was ugly. Man, I wanted to look like him, and in some early pictures I kind of did.

This is my favorite Lennon look. I liked it so much, in fact, that in 1973 I started going out with a guy who looked pretty nearly identical. (sidenote: we later married--he was Micah's dad.) This Sgt. Pepper era look epitomized everything that I liked about John Lennon. I had a special affinity with him, you see. We were both Libras and when I learned what that meant concerning personality traits, John became my role model. If I was going to be a Libra, I was going to be that kind of Libra, damn it!

I always thought that John looked kind of like Groucho Marx, who also was a Libra.

 John was a man of a million faces. Throughout his life his appearance changed whenever he made changes in himself. As if his face was his living canvas, he painted his personal evolution in his hair, spectacles, and facial hair styles. I never tired of watching the parade of "images" as they came and went. He understood living life as art and the artist as art. While it's true that John sometimes adopted looks that I (as someone on the outside looking in) couldn't understand at the time--when he and Yoko shaved their heads, for instance--I grew up and faced my own hardships. I came to understand that sometimes life can bring us to a point where we can either slit our throat or shave our head.

I can't help but wonder what John would look like at his upcoming 70th birthday this year. Although he'd moved beyond the long hair, I imagine his hair long all the same, white and shining. For some reason I see black plastic half-glasses, and a shaven face.

And always, always, I see him smiling.