I tried to think of something that could be a tribute to John Lennon for his 70th birthday. I just haven't been able to come with up with anything that hasn't been said a million times.
Reading the September 13, 1968 issue of Life, with excerpts from Hunter Davis' biography, The Beatles, I was struck once again by the story of Lennon's early life. He was born in 1940 in the heat of war, his father left the family, his mother left him with his aunt Mimi and her husband. I wonder how much his early years percolated in his brain, and came out in his music. Probably a lot.
Hunter Davis, in this short excerpt from the magazine, tells of Alfred (Fred) Lennon, John's father, and Julia Stanley, his mother. No matter that it is told in the biography in just a few paragraphs, it ended up in his songs. I've included a performance from a New York appearance, where John sings "Mother," and even though he says in his intro it's not personal I don't think even he believed that when he said it.
Then John's own son, Sean, does a great job on his father's song, "Julia," on a 2001 TNT special honoring Lennon.