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Oh Look Out!, Part 20, John Lennon the Immigrant
by John T. Marck
 

 


Here we take a look at that time in America when the United States Government, under President Richard Nixon, tried to deport John Lennon, and the reasons why, as well as a great song dedicated to him, regarding this. Shown at right are the first two pages of the FBI investigation file.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Look Out!

 John Lennon - -The Immigrant

Part 20

"Is There Anybody Going To Listen To My Story..."

There is no question that one of the world's most beloved figures in music was John Lennon. The people of the world loved him, as he was truly a legend and remains an everlasting idol. But what about the powers that be in the United States in the early seventies? Could it be that the most powerful man in America at the time, President Richard Nixon, was terrified of Lennon and his perceived power? Well, it's true.

After John Lennon completed probably his greatest album ever, which was "Imagine," he and Yoko Ono decided to leave England and move to the United States, settling in New York City. When the album "Imagine" was released in October 1971, both the album and the title track went to number one on the charts, and Lennon was considered the world's most influential rock star. Remember this came not long after the breakup of The Beatles, and thus their popularity was as strong as ever, and actually remains so today.

In addition to his music, Lennon frequently involved himself politically, and at this time in 1971, he was at the top of his political involvement. Lennon detested the war in Vietnam, and other iniquities, and demonstrated this through his bed-ins and other peaceful demonstrations. A short time after moving to New York, Lennon met with people considered subversive, like Jerry Rubin and other members of his group known as the New Left.

To assist with the many injustices occurring around the world, Lennon said that he was considering involving himself using his popularity for fund raisers, voter-registration drives, and anti-war rallies and concerts. These activities were planned to take place in many of the presidential primary states in 1972, and this deeply troubled Richard Nixon and the Republican Party. Consequently, many Republicans feared that Lennon, through these motivated activities, would jump-start the anti-war movement, resulting in the majority of young Americans voting against Nixon in the upcoming election.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, it was revealed that on February 4, 1972, Senator Strom Thurmond wrote a memo, classified as secret, citing Lennon as a danger to the Presidents' 1972 reelection campaign. So what could the Republicans do to prevent this? Easy they thought - just revoke Lennon's visa. Thurmond said further that "if Lennon's visa is terminated, it would be a strategy counter-measure." He further advised that "caution must be taken with regard to the possible alienation of the so-called 18-year-old-vote if Lennon is expelled from the country."

So what happened to Lennon as a result? For four years, John Lennon had to endure FBI surveillance, and continued harassment from the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS). Was John Lennon successfully deported - no. However, in 1975, the chief counsel of the INS resigned, and after doing so, publicly stated that the United States government, i.e., the Republican Party, spent millions of tax dollars, and conducted a more vehement attempt to deport John Lennon than it did in trying to throw out Nazi war criminals. It should be noted too, that all activities involving Lennon, or his intended activities, were protected under the First Amendment, which extends this protection to both citizens and non-citizens alike. John Lennon broke no laws in trying to fight for the many injustices he believed in.

I do not think that there has been any musician prior to Lennon or since who has had the kind of impact he had, nor who instilled fear in a man who is seemingly the most powerful in the world, that of the President of the United States. I remember this time well, and my first thought was how atrocious and embarrassing this must appear to the rest of the world, let alone the unjust problems it caused John Lennon.

In 1974, as a result of this activity to deport John Lennon, a wonderful and touching song was written by Neil Sedaka and Phil Cody, titled The Immigrant, which was dedicated to John Lennon.

Here below, are the words to this song.

The Immigrant

Harbors open their arms to the young searching Foreigner

Come to live in the light of the beacon of liberty

Planes and open skies, billboards would advertise

Was it anything like that when you arrived?

Dreamboats carried the future to the heart of America

People were waiting in line for a place by the river

It was a time when strangers were welcome here

Music would play

They tell me the days were sweet and clear

It was a sweeter tune and there was so much room

That people could come from everywhere

Now he arrives with his hopes and his heart set on miracles

Come to marry his fortune with a handful of promises

To find they've closed the door

They don't want him anymore

There isn't anymore to go around

Turning away he remembers he once heard a legend

That spoke of a mystical, magical land called America

It was a time when strangers were welcome here

Music would play

They tell me the days were sweet and clear

It was a sweeter tune and there was so much room

That people could come from everywhere

It was a time when strangers were welcome here

Music would play

They tell me the days were sweet and clear

It was a sweeter tune and there was so much room

That people could come from everywhere

It was a time when strangers were welcome here

Music would play

They tell me the days were sweet and clear

It was a sweeter tune and there was so much room

That people could come from everywhere

Imagine...if you can.

NOTE: All lyrics contained herein are © Copyright 1974Neil Sedaka and Phil Cody

Don Kirshner Music, Inc. -BMI / KEC Music Corp. - ASCAP

All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured.

The lyrics contained herein are for the sole use of educational reference for the readers of this article. All other uses are in violation of international copyright laws.This use for educational reference, falls under the "fair use" sections of U.S. copyright law.

Copyright© John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author, or the registered copyright holders. Except as otherwise stated above, all information contained in this article, EXCEPT song titles, lyrics, and photographs, © John T. Marck.

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