December 2, 2000
To the Editor of The Guardian
LENNON LIVES IN OUR HEARTS - LENIN IN HIS MAUSOLEUM
During the ABC special "The Beatles Revolution" aired on November 17, 1 spoke of the influence that the Beatles had on Soviet youth. In the same show, film director Milos Forman observed that the Beatles were partly responsible for the fall of Communism.
On November 18, The Guardian published an article titled "For Lenin Read Lennon", in which the author, who, unfortunately, did not sign his name, expressed his doubts with respect to my words, as well as those of Milos Forman, spoken during the show. Doubt can be a very useful thing, especially if the author were to present some constructive criticism, namely, quoting our words as they were spoken during the program, and then, step by step, putting forth a well-founded and literate argument in order to elicit the reader's distrust of such statements. The author, however, chose a different method. A simple, sandwich-type method, which essentially boils down to discrediting a statement by mixing it in with something absurd. Thus, the author of the article put together his information sandwich: he took the Cambridge spy scandal, which the reading public has long ago grown weary of, on top of this he placed a statement about John Lennon's rumoured links with the Trotskyites, and then, in between these two layers, he slipped in the words spoken by Mr. Forman and myself during the ABC program. The author concluded his article by suggesting that it would be a good idea to persuade John Le Carre "to write all this up", while subtly joking that, unfortunately, "no one would believe it, least of all the Russians". On this point I cannot but agree with the author for, indeed, no one would consume such a sandwich, least of all a Russian reader. The fact is that for many generations of Russians, the Beatles were one of the few means of escaping the drudgery of everyday life. Therefore, please allow me to pull my words and those of Milos Forman out of the author's cleverly constructed sandwich. Taken on their own, our words are not as difficult to believe as he would have them appear. More and more people are beginning to share Mr. Forman's theory regarding the fact that the Beatles are partly responsible for the fall of Communism. It is also an interesting coincidence that, although I am not personally acquainted with Mr. Forman, the very same idea appears in my book, "Strings For a Beatle Bass", which deals with the Beatles generation in the USSR. Furthermore, should the author of the article still have any doubts in this regard, he could easily step outside and question a Russian walking the streets of London, which is no longer as rare a sight as it used to be. Or, he could simply answer the following multiple-choice question from the comfort of his own home:
What marked the end of the August 1991 day that saw the collapse of Communism in the USSR?
a) a military parade on the Red Square
b) a huge, open-air rock 'n' roll concert in Moscow, organized by the defenders of the White House.
Should there be any difficulties in answering this question, Keith Richards can provide a hint:
"After those billions of dollars, and living under the threat of doom, what brought it down? Blue jeans and rock 'n' roll."