Thirty years ago today. Where was I? High School. It feels like I was much older but the numbers don’t lie. Thirty years ago today I was in high school when John Lennon died.
I don’t think it meant much to me then. I was not a big Beatles fan. My tastes reached as far back as Elvis but they skipped the Beatles right into the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and David Bowie.
The Daily Mirror section of the LA Times website posted scans of the LA Times edition from that day in 1980. Bloomberg published a snide piece that imagines there was no shooting and then goes on the lambast the imagined Lennon for preferring a domestic life over that of a Rockstar.
Rolling Stone is publishing Lennon’s last print interview where he:
lashes out at fans and critics who went after him during his five-year break from music. "What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean," Lennon says. "I’m not interested in being a dead fucking hero…so forget ’em, forget ’em."
According to Wikipedia, just five years earlier he had several informal conversations with David Bowie about the personal hardships that came from being famous. These conversations inspired Bowie’s Fame.
Yoko writes in her blog:
The most important gift we received from him was not words, but deeds. He believed in Truth, and had dared to speak up. We all knew that he upset certain powerful people with it. But that was John. He couldn’t have been in any other way. If he were here now, I think he would have shouted so we can all hear it. That truth was important. Because without knowing all the truth of what we did, we could not achieve world peace.
I saw the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex’s Lennon exhibit last year and know that what remained of John Lennon was handed to Yoko Ono in a simple brown grocery bag. It puts things into perspective and I would like to think that John Lennon somehow knew that.
I don’t remember where I was when John Lennon died. And I don’t know what he would be up to if he were around today. I know Imagine and I know Catcher in the Rye. I know people who mean well and I know phonies. I know we’ve been here before in memorial of brilliant dreamers.
And I know despite the hardships and the doubt I need to wake up in the mornings believing that it’s the small kindnesses to strangers, friends, and family that will inch us along towards where “world will be as one.”