Joe Scarborough Launches New Website…

Remembering John Lennon 30 Years Later

By Joe Scarborough
Posted: December 8, 2010 04:50 PM
I won’t be able to go to Strawberry Fields tonight to commemorate the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. After my visit last year, it’s probably just as well.

Every December 8th for the last 30 years, I have quietly paid tribute to my fallen hero. Last year, I went to John’s memorial in Central Park to remember the man who changed the world in a way few have. For so many fans of John Lennon, the relationship remains deeply personal, even after all these years.

Throughout high school, I spent much of my free time locked in my room with headphones on studying every beat, every note, every second of every Beatles song. My love of their music inspired me to play the guitar and write songs. And when my band wasn’t playing our songs in the basement, we were in my room marveling over the magic of Abbey Road’s medley or speeding up the end of Strawberry Fields to hear John’s “I buried Paul” or isolating the vocals to hear Paul’s voice crack for a split second on “If I Fell.”

We would then consume books and devour documentaries like “15 Hours With the Beatles.” We would have heated debates over albums and songs. Since I was the unabashed McCartney worshiper, I would take on the unenviable task of arguing how “London Town” matched up to “Abbey Road” or how “Girl’s School” was every bit as driving as “Get Back.”

And while our friends at school were listening to AC/DC, Kiss and Cheap Trick, we were isolated in the corner of the cafeteria talking about “Somewhere in New York City” and laughing over lines from the “Rutles.” This lonely obsession that started in 1977 made us seem more than a little quirky to our friends. It also had to be the cause of more than a few raised eyebrows from our parents.

I can understand now why they didn’t get it back then. That disconnect was laid bare the night we heard the news from Howard Cosell that John Lennon was dead. I sat watching Monday Night Football stunned and silent as my Dad walked through the room muttering that he liked Paul better. A friend on twitter, @Otoolefan, remembers his father telling him the next morning that “they shot Jack Lemmon last night.”

Many parents who suffered through the Great Depression and lost loved ones during World War II surely saw our angst as a little too much to bear. But my mother was a musician who understood the transcendence of music. She also understood that it was probably best to leave me alone with my headphones and Beatles records for the next several weeks.

What I found alone in my room is what I rediscovered last year when a dream of mine came true backstage at Radio City.

As a young congressman, I had been blessed to be able to meet any president, prime minister or politician. I had also met music heroes from B.B. King to U2 to Elvis Costello. All were exciting to meet, but none were Paul McCartney.

That chance came when Carole King was sweet enough to take me backstage to meet Sir Paul. Even the possibility seemed surreal since McCartney had impacted my life more than anyone outside of my family. As the day of the concert neared, a strange ambivalence swept over me. The day before the concert, I even told my wife I was thinking of skipping the chance at shaking my hero’s hand.

“What???” Susan asked incredulously. “I’ve never seen you scared of anyone or anything. Why in the world would you be afraid to meet Paul McCartney?”

It was a good point. People are people. Nothing more, nothing less. I have yet to meet a star who was worthy of worship. They just don’t exist anymore. In fact, I’m pretty sure they never did.

But I still couldn’t answer why I wanted to skip out on my lifelong dream of meeting Macca. Maybe it was Paul Simon’s fear that everything looks worse in black and white. Or maybe it was the fact that I could never tell him in a few seconds how he brought so much joy to so many years of my life. I just knew that the meeting would be short, awkward and leave me feeling a little empty.

Better not to pull back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz.

But I went ahead to Radio City, met Sir Paul McCartney, got my picture taken and managed to get out a few words. I don’t remember what they were but it was so surreal that I wouldn’t be surprised if I blurted out “I like purple” before quickly being escorted from the room.

After Carole and I left the backstage area and made it to our seats at Radio City, I realized that I had been right all along. I should have skipped the meeting and stayed home with my family. That regret lasted only as long as it took McCartney to strap a Hofner around his neck and rip into a supersonic rendition of “Jet.”

I was immediately transfixed–not by the myth, not by the legend, not by Beatle Paul. Instead, it was the music. As Carole and I jumped to our feet that night, I realized in an instant that the secret to their success had always been simple. The Beatles wrote remarkable songs.

For almost half a century, reporters and critics have tried to dissect why the Beatles had such an staggering impact on our times. After arriving in America in 1964, some suggested that Beatlemania was a needed distraction after the horror of JFK’s assassination. A few years later, critics would claim that the band was an outlet for a youth culture in rebellion against authority. And tonight, I am sure we will hear many try to explain again why so many of us still care about the Beatles 30 years after John’s death.

But in the end, all the philosophizing about the Beatles cultural transcendence is unadulterated bullshit. After all that has been written and said about the Liverpool band over the past 50 years, it still comes down their music.

The same music that moved me in 1980 moves my 7 year old daughter 30 years later. And the same magic that made me smile the first time I heard the back side of “Abbey Road” makes my 2 year old laugh when I pull out my guitar and sing him “Yellow Submarine.”

I spent a few hours today watching a BBC special on John’s life. The most revealing part of the documentary for me was a piece of film taken during John’s “Imagine” session. Lennon was told that a young, burned out straggler had made his way to John’s garden where he was spending much of his time.

The former Beatle left his session and walked outside to try to convince this lost soul to go home. As Lennon shot down every suggestion of cosmic connectivity between his songs and the drifter’s life, the Beatle who often had the sharpest edge revealed an inner sweetness that he seldom showed the world.

“Don’t confuse my songs with your life.”

The kid pushed back. Surely the lyrics to “I Dig a Pony” had a deeper meaning.

“I was just having fun with words” replied the retired dreamweaver.

“I’m just a guy.”

Maybe. But he and his bandmates also happened to create music that will bring joy to generations long after we are all gone. So tonight, I don’t have to go to Strawberry Fields to remember John. All I need are his songs.

I’ll put on my headphones, turn on “Number 9 Dream”, close my eyes, relax and float downstream.

Joe Scarborough tells GOP to man up and confront Sarah Palin

By JOE SCARBOROUGH | 11/30/10 4:44 AM EST Updated: 11/30/10 9:49 AM EST
Republicans have a problem. The most-talked-about figure in the GOP is a reality show star who cannot be elected. And yet the same leaders who fret that Sarah Palin could devastate their party in 2012 are too scared to say in public what they all complain about in private.

Enough. It’s time for the GOP to man up.

Everybody knows that Palin is a busy woman. The former half-term governor of Alaska stays so busy these days that one wonders how this mother of five manages to juggle her new reality show, follow her eldest daughter’s dancing career and launch her latest frenetic book tour while still finding the time to insult a slew of revered presidents and first ladies.

You’ve got to admit hers is a breathtaking high-wire act.

What man or mouse with a fully functioning human brain and a résumé as thin as Palin’s would flirt with a presidential run? It makes the political biography of Barack Obama look more like Winston Churchill’s, despite the fact that the 44th president breezed into the Oval Office as little more than a glorified state senator.

Still, Palin is undeterred, charging ahead maniacally while declaring her intention to run for the top office in the land if “nobody else will.” Adding audacity to this dopey dream is that Palin can’t stop herself from taking swings at Republican giants. In the past month alone, she has mocked Ronald Reagan’s credentials, dismissed George H.W. and Barbara Bush as arrogant “blue bloods” and blamed George W. Bush for wrecking the economy.

Wow. That’ll win ’em over in Iowa.

One can only guess what comes next on Palin’s bizarre road show. Maybe the publishing world’s favorite reality star can keep drawing attention and selling billions of books by spitting on John Wayne’s grave or “manning up” by shooting an American bald eagle.

Or how about this? Maybe Palin could show up on Fox News and build her weak résumé by tearing down Reagan’s.

Oh, wait. Been there, done that.

When Sean Hannity asked Palin whether being in a reality show diminished her standing to be president, the former half-term governor mocked Reagan’s biography, dismissing him as “an actor.”

Sounding like every left-wing politician and media elitist who ridiculed Reagan for decades, Palin sneered that she could be president if the actor from “Bedtime for Bonzo” managed to do so.

Reagan biographer Peggy Noonan dismissed the remark as “ignorant, even for Sarah Palin.” Noonan reported that Reagan loyalists were outraged that Palin would stoop to using the old left-wing jab. The Gipper’s former speechwriter then used her Wall Street Journal column to strike back.

Noonan noted that Reagan walked into the White House as far more than an actor.

The 40th president first led a major American labor union through massive upheaval, toured factories for General Electric for eight years and was California’s governor for two full terms during the Golden State’s most momentous times. Reagan then challenged an incumbent president from his own party and reinvented American conservatism without the help of the GOP establishment or the conservative movement.

After Palin mocked Reagan’s credentials, the TLC reality show star took aim at the 41st president and his wife. Borrowing again from old left-wing attacks that Democrats used against GOP presidents, Palin channeled Ann Richards by bashing Bush and his wife as “blue bloods” who had wrecked America.

Read more:

My Favorite Book

No Ordinary Joe

Some of you may only know Joe Scarborough from being blocked by him on Twitter. But there is so much more to him than that. We here at Tomfoolery, suspect he is a liberal trapped in a conservative’s body and it’s our ongoing project to highlight this aspect of his diverse personality. In many ways he is a political Jekyll & Hyde,  claiming Robert F. Kennedy AND Ronald Reagan as his heroes. That’s one of the things that makes him so intriguing.

Yes, Joe can be a little trigger happy with his block finger, but what makes him interesting and likeable, is he then often will unblock and even sometimes follow someone, (liberalchik) engaging them in debate and friendly conversation. Moreover, he’s also one of the few notables who respond to ordinary “twitter-folk” and he doesn’t just stick to a “media-clique” like so many others do.

Scarborough is the only prominent conservative who consistently calls out hate speech and hypocrisy on his own side. There are some who say he only calls out the indefensible – even if this were true, he is the only one on the right who does this.  A perfect example was his reaction to the John Lewis incident. He didn’t deny the incident occurred, nor did he demand “Zapruder-like” proof of the slur. Instead, within an hour or two, he condemned the act with this eloquent tweet, “John Lewis is a friend, a great man and an American hero. Anyone attacking such a man with racial slurs has a dark heart and a grim soul.”  This alone deserves respect and it’s one of the reasons why we’ve given him his own page on this site.

Not only does Joe call out nonsense on the right, sometimes he flat out laughs in their face. One of the best moments of  Morning Joe ever came when Joe viewed a clip of Glenn Beck for the first time. As Beck cried, ” I just love my country,” Joe lost it with a gale of gut wrenching laughter that went on for several minutes, nearly knocking him out of his chair. This reaction to the idiocy that is Glenn Beck was worth 100 special comments.  As Mark Twain wrote, “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” Especially Glenn Beck. When he finally returned to his upright position, Scarborough proceeded to school Beck on taking responsibility for his words, instead of hiding under the skirt of Rupert Murdoch, calling it all “entertainment”. “You can’t call the President a racist and then say, oh, I’m just a rodeo clown,” Scarborough said.

We take Joe at his word that he is genuinely interested in working together to solve the problems of this country.  Although we disagree with him on many issues,(especially Waterboarding!) we don’t question his motives. We consider him a worthy adversary and a friend.

And he LOVES the Beatles.

All We Are Saying Is Give Joe A Chance.

Scarborough Calls Arizona Immigration Law “Un-American”

Looks like the new Arizona “show me your papers” law is even too much for Joe Scarborough to take. While discussing the implications of the law with Rev. Al Sharpton, Scarborough called the law un-American and doubted it would be found Constitutional even by the conservative Roberts’ Supreme Court. The panel also asked where the leadership was from the Republican Party and their presidential hopefuls who have remained silent. They were all in agreement that they were afraid to speak out.

By John Amato Tuesday Apr 27, 2010 1:30pm

Have you heard a peep from the leading Republicans for the 2012 presidential race about Arizona’s new racial profiling new law? Sarah Palin went on Fox and voiced her support for Jan Brewer, but since then has been silent: no bumbling Facebook posts yet. Meanwhile, where’s Newt or Mitt or Huck?

Scarborough, who I disagree with most of the time, is asking the same questions on Morning Joe:

Scarborough: One out of every three citizens in the state of Arizona are Hispanic and you have now put a target on their back on one of three citizens if they’re walking their dog around the neighborhood. If they are walking their child to school. They are an American citizens and a legal, legal immigrant and now put a target on their back and make them think when they walk out their door, they may have to prove something. I will tell you that is un-American. It’s unacceptable and un-American.

Where’s Mitt Romney? Where’s Newt Gingrich? Where’s Mike Huckabee?

Why are they hiding? We know they probably support this Bircher, nativist law so why don’t they just come out and say it? There was a reason Bush and Rove tried to do immigration reform, but now the GOP fears their teabagger base even more than the Democratic Party does.

Bill Clinton with Joe and Mika at the Atlantic Council Awards.

Bono with Joe and Mika at the Atlantic Council Awards.

Joe getting Jekylly with it at Conservapalooza!

Joe on the go...oh wait, what's that in his hand?

The Odd Couple


Sounds like Jekyll Country to me.

When Joe says he's a LIBertarian, he's half right.

Watch Joe go "Full Mental Jekyll" on Glenn Beck.

John Lewis is a friend, a great man and an American hero. Anyone attacking such a man with racial slurs has a dark heart and a grim soul. – JoeNBC

By Joe Scarborough, posted: December 8, 2009 05:22 PM, Huffington Post

It’s hard to believe it’s almost been 30 years since I heard Howard Cosell deliver the news on Monday Night Football that John Lennon had been killed. I was still in high school when John Lennon died so I was too young to remember the Beatles as anything more than a former band.

When the Beatles invaded America, I was less than a year old.

Three summers later, when Sgt. Peppers transformed popular music and America’s culture, I was still a toddler.

But regardless of my late start, John Lennon and the Beatles still changed my life in a way that few others have. I didn’t see the Fab Four introduced to America by Ed Sullivan, or endure the pain of a breakup to the strains of “Yesterday,” or drop acid with my friends while listening to Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. But I did have their music, and in the end that’s all that mattered.

My transformative moment with the band came on the last day of 8th Grade when my friends and I rode our bikes home from school in Upstate New York. When we reached the mall, we dropped our bikes and ran into the record store. One friend bought the latest Kiss album and another grabbed something by AC/DC. Instead of buying something in my decade, I settled on the Beatles’ 1967-1970 “blue album.” That decision would change my life.

By the end of that first weekend, I was hooked. I spent the next four or five years hunting down every Beatles album, bootleg, solo album and documentary. I’m not sure why I had so much trouble tracking down albums like Let it Be during the mid-1970s. Maybe it was because Elmira, New York record stores had limited stock or maybe it’s because Capitol Records hadn’t figured out yet that they could sell more albums by a band that broke up years ago than a new band exploding on the scene.

Regardless, all I know is that this Beatles scavenger hunt made my obsession with the band all the more exciting. My friends and I would spend our time on vacations with our families running into record stores trying to find Beatles albums and rare imports that escaped our grasp.

Let it Be was the hardest to find and was soon viewed among my small band of friends as the Holy Grail of Beatles recordings. And though I found and devoured that album years ago, I still haven’t gotten my hands on the damn movie! (Come on, Paul. Release it already.)*

Soon after buying that first Beatles album, I began writing music. I learned to play the guitar and bass. I started recording my songs. I locked myself in my room almost every night, put on my headphones and got lost in the music. I melted into the second side of “Abbey Road,” “You Never Give Me Your Money,” the White Album, “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” Rubber Soul, “Norwegian Wood” and that wicked twist McCartney added to Lennon’s song about burning down a snob’s cherished home.

The Beatles gave me a love for music that got me through one heartbreak after another. When my parents moved our family from New York to Florida at the end of 9th Grade, it was music that got me though that tough transition and it was music that helped me find new friends and navigate a new high school.

Halfway through my senior year, I was watching Monday Night Football with my dad when Cosell broke the news that John Lennon had been shot dead in New York City. I stared at the TV unable to speak. My father stayed focused on the football game on the screen while my mother tried in vain to offer consolation. But there was nothing she or anyone could say.

I couldn’t explain to them how much this hurt. After all, how do you explain to anyone that some guy I had never met, never spoken to, or never even seen in concert, had taken a more central role in my life than many people I dealt with every day?

Nor could I explain it to my friends (who had always thought I was more than a little bit strange for refusing to listen to anything recorded after 1969 unless it was a Beatle’s solo album.) So I did the only thing I could do. I walked quietly back to room, slipped on my headphones and began listening to “Plastic Ono Band.” Then “Imagine.” Then “Walls and Bridges” and “Shaved Fish” and “Somewhere in New York City” and anything else I could get my hands on.

I listened to Lennon’s last BBC interview with Andy Peebles. I read the Rolling Stone tribute issue that told me how my hero’s last word was “yeah.” I remember watching Elton John singing “Empty Garden.” I remember listening to Paul’s tribute “Here Today.” But nothing really helped in a murder as senseless as this one. Nothing, sad to say, but the passing of time.

Almost 30 years later, I still can’t believe what happened that cold night in December 1980. But tonight, I will kiss my 6-year-old daughter goodnight under the sign on her wall that reads “All You Need Is Love.” Then I’ll be listening to Lennon on my iPod when I walk a few blocks over to 72nd Street and Central Park West. When I reach the Dakota, I’ll keep pushing my iPod’s button until “Merry Xmas (War is Over)” starts playing in my ears.

I’ll say a prayer and walk back home.

*Thank you @OTOOLEFAN for the “Let it Be” DVD! I haven’t seen it since 1978. It was a real thrill and a GREAT birthday present. — @JoeNBC

Psst! Don’t tell Joe, but he’s a LIBERAL!
  1. January 17, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Whoa — I recognize that picture of Joe walking, talking on the phone and holding Newsweek. I took it! 🙂 That was in Denver at the ’08 Democratic National Convention — I was covering the convention as part of Florida’s official blogger delegation, through the Florida Progressive Coalition, and I originally posted that pic on my now-defunct blog. Funny how the Internets work… 🙂

  2. Rivercitidan
    November 30, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    JoeNBC: @Rivercitidan Umm, what “Obama Wave” am I riding? I’ve criticized his domestic policy for 9 months.

    Rivercitidan: @Rivercitidan Rivercitidan

    Still blocked by @JoeNBC. He was veering left and right like a pendulum and I called him on it. @msnbc_politics the Obama wave, Palin wave..ETC… political surfer…can’t wait for the next wave…

    Being an independent just means that the only time you have to take a side is when it’s self aggrandizing.

  3. @UncJonny
    June 15, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Yup, @JoeNBC blocked me. I like The “Morning Joe” Show, but it would be so much better without that egomaniacal jackass as host.

    They book great guests, both from the right & left. Joe should keep his big mouth shut more often & not continually step on their comments. They offer much more insight than he could ever hope to.

    Scarborough may try to project an enlightened attitude, but he’s still just a GOP hack. He follows his own tactic that he preaches to Republicans… only talk about the policies that are appealing to the voters & shut up about all the hateful, selfish, racist, greedy principles that you really believe, at least until after you get elected.

  4. May 20, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Hate to disappoint you folks but Joe is definitely not a closet liberal. Think water-boarding. Think anti-spending. Think anti-deficit. Think anti-racial politcs. Think anti-union.

    • August 2, 2010 at 6:02 pm

      Hate to disappoint you, but we know Joe isn’t a liberal. We like to tease him about it because, unlike SOME people, Scarborough has a sense of humor.

  5. @rockdots
    May 15, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    “Some of you may only know Joe Scarborough from being blocked by him on Twitter.”

    Bing bing bing bing!

  6. Cookie Lover
    April 26, 2010 at 2:50 am

    “Some of you may only know Joe Scarborough from being blocked by him on Twitter. But there is so much more to him than that.”

    Funny but subtle. Googling “satire.”

  7. @DanVerg
    April 25, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    I hadn’t read that Beatles article by Scarborough. My first experience with the Beatles came through finding the “Michelle” single when I was a kid, long after Lennon had died (b-side: “You Won’t See Me”) and my mom telling me the French lyrics. I was seven, but a love affair began that still continues to this day, and yes, I’ve made my pilgrimages to the Dakota, and to the little Strawberry Fields section of Central Park just across the street. Maybe this Scarborough dude isn’t that bad after all…

  8. @DanVerg
    April 25, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    As one of those who
    have been blocked by him, I know he doesn’t always act right in condemning bigotry. He was all about defending Pat Robertson when he made his astonishingly moronic Haiti earthquake comments (vodoo, etc), demanding that we focused on his humanitary work and not on his callously anti-Christian (and also factually wrong) remarks. I pointed out that maybe the next time Al-Qaeda blows someone up, we should ignore it and focus on their humanitary work. Although this was clearly hyperbole, it got me blocked. What say you Joe? Unblock me?

  9. April 4, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Why can’t he be both? I mean, it’s pretty normal for people to have a good and bad side without it being considered a psychologically or morally aberrant occurrence. Then there’s Michele Bachmann, who has only the bad side, and it’s completely aberrant in its own right…

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