~ TLW ~ Conversation Questions and Biography ~

Procedures:                                                                                                                Print Questions: .docx / .doc


1) Watch and Listen to the biographical video and read the text overview

2) Clarify meaning as a class. Student/Teacher reads a paragraph. Student summarizes

3) In pairs or in groups, discuss the biographical content and quotations

4) In pairs or in groups, discuss the conversation questions (include your own questions)

5) As a class, take turns using the conversation questions to expand your ideas

Bio 105 ~ John Lennon  ~ Give Peace a Chance ~ Courtesy of  Biography.com

Famed singer-songwriter John Winston Lennon was born on October 9, 1940, in Liverpool, England, during a German air raid in World War II.


When he was 4 years old, Lennon's parents separated and he ended up living with his Aunt Mimi. Lennon's father was a merchant seaman. He was not present at his son's birth and did not see a lot of his son when he was small.

Lennon's mother, Julia, remarried, but visited him and Mimi regularly. She taught John how to play the banjo and the piano and purchased his first guitar. Lennon was devastated when his mother was fatally struck by a car driven by an off-duty police officer in July 1958. Her death was one of the most traumatic events in his life.


As a child, Lennon was a prankster and he enjoyed getting in trouble. As a boy and young adult, he  enjoyed drawing grotesque figures and cripples. Lennon's school master recommended an art college, since he did not get good grades but had artistic talent.


Lennon met Paul McCartney at a church fete on July 6, 1957. He soon invited McCartney to join his group, and the two eventually formed one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in musical history. McCartney introduced George Harrison to Lennon the following year, and Harrison and art college buddy Stuart Sutcliffe also joined Lennon's band. Always in need of a drummer, the group finally settled on Pete Best in 1960.


The first recording they made was Buddy Holly's "That'll be the Day" in 1958. In fact, it was Holly's group, the Crickets, that inspired the band to change its name.


The Beatles were discovered by Brian Epstein in 1961 at Liverpool's Cavern Club, where they were performing on a regular basis. As their new manager, Epstein secured a record contract with EMI. With a new drummer, Ringo Starr, and George Martin as producer, the group released their first single, "Love Me Do," in October 1962. It peaked on the British charts at No. 17.


Lennon wrote the group's follow-up single, "Please, Please Me," inspired primarily by Roy Orbison. The song topped the charts in Britain. The Beatles went on to become the most popular band in Britain with the release of such mega-hits as "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand."


Lennon married Cynthia Powell in August 1962. The couple had one son together, Julian, who was named after Lennon's mother. Cynthia was forced to keep a very low profile during Beatlemania. She and Lennon divorced in 1968. He remarried the following year on March 20, 1969 to Japanese avant-garde artist Yoko Ono, whom he had met at the Indica Gallery in November 1966.


In 1964, the Beatles became the first British band to break out big in the United States, beginning with their appearance on television's The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. Beatlemania launched a "British Invasion" of rock bands in the United States that also included the Rolling Stones and the Kinks. Following their appearance on Sullivan, the Beatles returned to Britain to film their first film, A Hard Day's Night (1964), and prepare for their first world tour.


The Beatles' second film, Help!, was released in 1965. That June, Queen Elizabeth II of England announced that the Beatles would be named a Member of the Order of the British Empire. In August 1965, the foursome performed to 55,600 fans at New York's Shea Stadium, setting a new record for largest concert audience in musical history. When the Beatles returned to England, they recorded the breakthrough album Rubber Soul(1965), noted for extending beyond the love songs and pop formulas for which the band was previously well-known.


The magic of Beatlemania had begun to lose its appeal by 1966. The band members' lives were put in danger when they were accused of snubbing the presidential family in the Philippines. Then, Lennon's remark that the band was "more popular than Jesus now" incited denunciations and Beatles record bonfires in the U.S. Bible belt. The Beatles gave up touring after an August 29, 1966, concert at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.


After an extended break, the band returned to the studio to expand their experimental sound with drug-influenced exotic instrumentation/lyrics and tape abstractions. The first sample was the single "Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever," followed by the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), considered by many to be the greatest rock project in musical history.


The Beatles then suffered a huge blow when Epstein died of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills on August 27, 1967. Shaken by Epstein's death, the Beatles retrenched under McCartney's leadership in the fall and filmed Magical Mystery Tour. While the film was dismissed by critics, the soundtrack album contained Lennon's "I Am The Walrus," the group's most cryptic work yet.


Magical Mystery Tour failed to achieve much commercial success, and the Beatles retreated into Transcendental Meditation and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, which took them to India for two months in early 1968.


By this time, Lennon's artistic partnership with second wife Yoko Ono had begun to cause serious tensions within the group. Lennon and Ono invented a form of peace protest by staying in bed while being filmed and interviewed, and their single "Give Peace a Chance" (1969), recorded under the name "The Plastic Ono Band," became a national anthem of sorts for pacifists.


Lennon left the Beatles in September 1969, just after the group completed recording Abbey Road. The news of the break-up was kept secret until McCartney announced his departure in April 1970, a month before the band released Let It Be.


Lennon and Yoko Ono continued collaborating. Imagine, was the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed of all Lennon's post-Beatles efforts. The title track was later named No. 3 on Rolling Stone magazine's "All-Time Best Songs" list. Yoko gave birth to their only child, a son named Sean, on Lennon's 35th birthday (October 9, 1975). Shortly thereafter, Lennon decided to leave the music business to focus on being a father and husband.


n 1980, John Lennon returned to the music world with the album Double Fantasy, featuring the hit single "(Just Like) Starting Over." Tragically, just a few weeks after the album's release, Mark David Chapman, a deranged fan, shot Lennon several times in front of his apartment complex in New York City. Lennon died at New York City's Roosevelt Hospital on December 8, 1980, at the age of 40.


~ Selected Quotes by John Lennon ~ Adapted from GoodReads.com


1) There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. 


2) If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. 


3) Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.


4) The more I see, the less I know for sure.


5) If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.


6) I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong.


7) Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.


8) It's weird not to be weird.


9) I'm not afraid of death because I don't believe in it. It's just getting out of one car, and into another.


10) You don't need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You are what you are.


~ General Conversation Questions ~


Group A


1) Lennoní»s father was not around when he was growing up. Discuss the possible impact this had on him.

2) What is a merchant seaman? Are there jobs in your country that keep parents from their children?

3) His mother remarried and visited him often, but he was raised by his aunt. Why do you think so?

4) His mother taught Lennon to play music and bought him his first guitar.

What influence do you think she had on him?

5) Lennoní»s mother was killed tragically. Do you think he was eventually able to overcome his trauma?


Group B


1) Are you a Beatles or John Lennon fan? What songs/recordings do you like/doní»t like?

2) Did the Beatles music or John Lennon influence you or any parts of culture in your country? Explain.

3) What makes a song or any other type of art great? What music do you like? Tell.

4) Why did the Beatles spend two months in India in 1968? Did the trip influence them? Discuss.

5) Lennon married Yoko Ono around the time of the Beatlesí» break up. What was her influence? Explain.


Group C


1) Lennon took a long hiatus after the birth of his second son. Do you think this was a wise decision? Explain.

2) In 1980, Lennon returned to the music scene. Why do you think he made this decision?

3) He was gunned down by a mentally ill fan. How dangerous are the lives of people in the public eye?

4) Out of the quotes above, which do you like? Explain.

5) Out of the quotes above, which doní»t you like so much? Explain.


Challenge: Make your own follow-up questions and discuss them.




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