13 Oct, 2022 @ 15:27
3 mins read

Life is Easy with Eyes Closed… (But opened for John Lennon in Spain’s Cabo de Gata!)

Mono Negative
LENNON ON LOCATION Almeria, Spain: A greatcoated and bespectacled John Lennon chats to fellow Beatle drummer Ringo Starr, sporting strange glasses and trailing a pince-nez style of sunglasses for attaching to ordinary glasses, after Ringo dropped in for a visit to watch his colleague at work. 8 October 8 October 1965

A little-known fact: John Lennon had terrible eyesight. By today’s standards he would have been considered legally blind without his glasses.

He was severely myopic, had astigmatism and dyslexia. Optometrists today call it the Irlen Syndrome. Furthermore, Lennon was self-conscious about this fact and early in his career resisted wearing glasses during performances.

His personal doctor once said: “Without his glasses, the world was blurred and distorted for John. He could see the end of his guitar and frets but not much beyond.”

Another little- known fact: Rolling Stone Magazine once stated that Lennon’s lyrics, his hair and his ‘granny glasses’ were probably the most enduring and iconic trademarks of the late Beatle, John Lennon.

What follows is the Spanish backstory of those very granny glasses that were such an enduring part of his public image.

In 1967 John Lennon had a small, non-musical role in the John Lester movie How I Won the War. Much of the filming of the movie was done in the Carboneras area of the Cabo de Gata Natural Park.

John Lennon
John Lennon on the set of How I Won the War in Almeria. Photo: Cordon Press

His role was very minor and, during the shooting, Lennon had a lot of downtime which offered him a welcome respite from his arduous music tours.

Lennon and wife Cynthia joined actor Michael Crawford and wife Gabrielle Lewis in renting the Santa Isabel Villa.

On the set, John enjoyed observing the production of the movie as just another cast member. He could interact as a normal person for the first time in a long time.

Cynthia Lennon Death
John Lennon with Cynthia Lennon. Photo: Cordon Press

Lennon would later note that he found the rural setting and time-off from the hectic world of rock and roll to be profoundly restorative.

To prepare for his role, Lennon got a standard haircut which contrasted sharply with his mop-top image. He was also given a pair of ‘standard metal British National Health Service glasses’ – issued free by the NHS.

The round, small lens, metal framed glasses were the farthest thing from being fashionable but, for reasons known only to Lennon, he felt comfortable in Spain, and was not worried about how he looked in these round granny glasses.

They opened his eyes (pun intended) to some of the beauty of the Cabo de Gata area which surrounded him. The Santa Isabel Villa, with its wrought iron gates and lush vegetation, reminded Lennon of the Strawberry Field – a Salvation Army garden near Lennon’s childhood home in Liverpool.

Lennon, perhaps with the newly found vision aided by his NHS supplied glasses, was inspired to write his classic song Strawberry Fields Forever during his stay in Cabo de Gata.    

Mono Negative
A greatcoated and bespectacled John Lennon chats to fellow Beatle Ringo Starr on the set of How I Won the War. Photo: Cordon Press

During this time, Rolling Stone Magazine covertly obtained a photo of Lennon sporting a pair of granny glasses and featured the new image on its November 9, 1967, front cover. Publisher Jann S. Wenner would later describe that cover as: “Incredibly fortuitous and symbolic – prophetic of the future.”

It would be hard to find a photo without at least some form of variation of those smaller, round glasses for the rest of Lennon’s days.

This past week, October 9 to be exact, would have been John Lennon’s 82nd birthday. Next December 8 will mark the 42nd anniversary of his tragic demise.

Undeniably, his presence is still with us: his spirit, his cultural significance and his musical vision. But it is interesting to note that his lyrics from Strawberry Fields Forever (think: “Life is easier with your eyes closed”) was born of his time in Spain – replete with his new NHS issued granny glasses!

R.I.P. John Lennon.

                   Did You know?

  • “John was blind as a bat” George Harrison recalled, “So poor was his vision that he used to tape lyrics on the back of his guitar so that he could squint at them if he forgot a word.”
  • The last pair of granny glasses worn by Lennon on that tragic day in 1980 are kept at The Beatles Story Exhibit in Liverpool. They are insured for over £1 million. Another pair worn by Lennon on his tour of Japan in 1968, were recently auctioned off for between £ 1& £2 million.
  • The Santa Isabel Villa has been turned into a cultural centre museum dedicated to the history of How I Won the War. Ex-wife Cynthia Lennon would describe the villa in her as ‘haunted’ in her biography.


A big tourist welcome this winter in Benidorm and Valencia areas of Spain
Previous Story

A big tourist welcome this winter in Benidorm and Valencia areas of Spain

Man charged with raping mother-in-law pepper sprays police officer in Spain's Valencia
Next Story

Elche Couple Nicked for Drug Dealing after Reporting Robbery to Police

Latest from Columnists

Go toTop

More From The Olive Press