John Lennon

December 8, 2009 by  

john-lennon-peace-sign-717701John Lennon:Twenty-nine years ago today, Mark David Chapman gunned down John Lennon in New York City as he and his wife, Yoko Ono, returned to their home at The Dakota. A tragedy of Shakespearian proportion, the Beatle who devoted the latter part of his life to promoting peace, brotherhood and tolerance was murdered by one of his fans who deeply misunderstood his message. As Lennon died in 1980, there’s a whole generation of music fans who have no memory of Lennon: he’s essentially a historical figure. I recall being at Madison Square Garden when O.A.R. played “Dakota,” a song that imagines what would have happened if Lennon had just kept walking that fateful night, and being struck by the song’s lack of insight. While the crowd full of college age kids swayed moodily with lighters in hand as a band that would have been diapers when Lennon was shot paid tribute to the fallen Beatle, it became clear that even if people had no personal recollection of him, the idea of John Lennon will always be revered.

There are very few untold stories of that night or of the world’s reaction. Howard Cosell broke the news in the midst of a Monday Night Football telecast and in New York, Vin Scelsa informed WNEW’s audience and played host to an all-night public grief -therapy session. This year, Lennon’s death strikes me as a bit more resonant as I’m now the same age as Lennon was when he died. I can’t regale you with memories of seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, mourning their break up or reacting to his peacenik antics. Too young to truly appreciate his significance, I did know “Imagine” and was generally aware of who Lennon was; I got Double Fantasy when it came out because I thought “Watching The Wheels” was a fantastic song. On December 9, 1980, I was also too young to understand why someone would kill a musician. Scratch that: it’s nearly thirty years later and I still can’t fathom why someone would kill John Lennon.

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