Remembering John Lennon

8 Dec

Thirty years ago I was -9 years old. Yes, a non-existing age where conscious thought is, well, not at a premium. But, after I was born, I took the natural musical transition to the age of sing-a-longs to the 10-year-old euphoric, ‘Eminem is the best artist ever,” to the introduction to good music, to today. At 21 years old, this semi-adult audiophile has gathered a pretty decent opinion on music. And, there is no one better than John Lennon.

John Lennon. The name evokes such memory and emotion. He is like music’s version of Santa Clause. Everyone knows him. From those who express pure idolatry to those who may have only heard his name in passing, he is beyond a musical legend and icon. John Lennon is god-like, transcending “music” itself. His name expands into the realm of magic. An anagogic superstar?

His shocking murder 30 years ago still leaves an incorrigible scar on the face of all music. That is how superb Mr. Lennon was. When Mark David Chapman pulled the trigger and killed Lennon, he destroyed a fixture of music itself. Lennon is irreplaceable.

Imagine if all of a sudden dogs just disappeared. That’s right. No more Fido and Spot to walk and love. Would we live on as human beings? Yes. We would all adjust. But, there would be this grand lacuna in our lives. That is what happened when John Lennon was ripped away. That is what happened 30 years ago, tonight. The world shook. People like Lennon are not supposed to die at 40.

So, let us remember him. The loquacious, sardonic and arrogant Beatle. The loving, and obsessed husband to Yoko and his Sean. The pioneer for peace marches and an anti-war sentiment, even after the hippie generation had deteriorated. He was a man with a giant heart and an indelible, extraordinary musical skill that surpassed his work with the greatest band to ever play, The Beatles.

Was he a complete angel? Of course not. His distant relationship with his first son, Julian and volatile relationship with his first wife Cynthia was a certain black mark on his existence. But, as humans, we are marked with numerous foibles (some being worse than others) and it is how we work through them that demonstrate our personality. He was young. He became kinder, less cocky, and more focused on propagating a message of peace to the world.

It happened at around 10:50 p.m. The Lennon’s arrived home at the Dakota after spending several hours at the Record Plant. Lennon wanted to go home so he could say goodnight to his son, Sean, before he was put to bed. He also liked to oblige fans who generally waited for a long time to get a picture with John or an autograph. Chapman was there. He had come to New York with the intention of killing Lennon. Earlier in the day he backed away from his plan at another autograph signing. This time he did not. He shot Lennon numerous times in the back. Two of the shots inflicted fatal wounds. Lennon was pronounced dead at 11:15 p.m.

The story broke in a very interesting manner. Being a journalist, this particularly interested me. Alan Weiss, ABC’s New York affiliate, was in the hospital following a motorcycle accident. He reported the story first. Remember this was way before Twitter, Facebook and cell phones! He contacted ABC news, who relayed it to Roone Arledge, the executive producer of Monday Night Football (which was going on at the time). The Dolphins were facing the Patriots. The report was read by Cosell:

Yes, we have to say it. Remember this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses. An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous, perhaps, of all of The Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead on arrival. Hard to go back to the game after that news flash, which in duty bound, we have to take.

And that was that. John Lennon was murdered. A world mourned his loss.

There are some great links that any fan of Lennon should visit today after viewing this post. Rolling Stone has put together an excellent segment of Lennon’s last days. It includes audio clips of interviews, photos and videos.

Link: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/68404/239168

The New York Times has released two good opinion articles on the subject, one written by Yoko Ono. Take a look:

Link (Yoko): http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/08/opinion/08ono.html?_r=1&src=ISMR_HP_LO_MST_FB

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/08/opinion/08wed4.html?ref=opinion

An excellent piece by Tom Rinaldi of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on the reporting of the story:

Remember, all we are saying is give peace a chance. Rest in peace, John.

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