Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rant #400: Lennon Remembered

Incredibly, today is the 30th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.

I, for one, can't believe that so much time has passed since his passing.

I remember the night well, as probably most Baby Boomers do.

In my case, I was what they now call multi-tasking in my room at home back then. I was 23 years old, had my first real job in New York City, was going to school to earn my graduate degree, and was tired as hell from a typical workday.

I was watching TV and recording music for my friend, who was going to graduate school in North Carolina. He had complained to me that the radio stations down there weren't very good, so I was putting the latest sounds on tape for him to listen to.

I had just finished putting Yoko Ono's "Walking On Thin Ice" on the cassette, when the program I was watching (which I don't remember), on NBC, was interrupted.

Chuck Scarborough, who to this day remains the news anchor at local Channel 4 here, came in with his booming voice and said something to the effect of, "We have received word that John Lennon, the former Beatle, has been shot. We don't know much more about this now, but Lennon reportedly was shot right outside his residence. We will have more on this later."

I was in shock, but of course just a few minutes later, I heard the words I didn't want to hear, when Scarborough came on again and said, "We have it from reliable sources that John Lennon was shot and killed just outside his Dakota residence. A gunman has reportedly been apprehended. More later."

I had stopped taping after the Ono song ended, and I immediately put on the radio part of my stereo.

Every station--and I mean every station--was playing Beatles music--both on AM and FM--except one.

The original WKTU, the city's top station at the time and which played disco and little else, continued in that mode.

I found this, and still do for that matter, incomprehensible. That station showed its true colors that night.

Anyway, the next days and weeks, all you heard about was Lennon, Lennon, and more Lennon.

Tributes poured in from everyone from everywhere.

There was the memorable scene in Central Park, where young and old gathered for a remembrance of the former Beatle. This was covered locally by Channel 7, and I watched it. There was nothing but silence from the crowd. It was eerie.

I carried my pathos to work on that Monday after Lennon's death.

I remember that one of my co-workers, probably in his late 40s or early 50s, questioned me about why I seemed to be so down in the dumps. I explained it to him, but I know he didn't get it. This was a guy who was born in the late 1920s or early 1930s, and I don't think there was any way he could fully get it.

Lennon was truly the first hero of my generation who died in such a violent way. Sure, JFK, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy preceded him, but we looked up to them as kids. They weren't really from our generation.

Lennon was. And through the "yeah, yeah, yeahs" and "Imagine," he had plenty to say about a lot of things.

Sure, I didn't agree with him on a lot of the things he said and stood up for.

But he was what he was--a man whose success put him in a situation that was almost otherworldly.

He found his peace in New York City, and ironically, he found the end to his life there too.

He seemed to be a nice guy underneath it all.

I am sorry he is gone.

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