Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields

John Lennon: Where were you when?

BBC News asked this question yesterday in their piece for the 30th anniversary of this sad event:
John Lennon's death 30 years ago was one of those shocking, poignant "where were you when" moments that fashion collective memories out of historic events.
I look at my children today, who are both now ardent Beatles fans (to the chagrin of their mother, no doubt), and can't really find the words to express the depth of that moment, or express what it meant to fans (and non-fans) alike when it played out. Perhaps, it's still a little too painful. I have explained to them that John died a long time ago, but it comes off flat. Certainly, Elvis fans should be able to relate since their moment had arrived three years in advance. Even though I was less passionate toward Presley, I can still recall that instant as well. I was driving eastbound on the 10 freeway, just passing downtown L.A., when I heard the news of Elvis' death on FM radio.

It's not a matter for someone to be nostalgic. Shocks to the system of this sort make an indelible impression on human software. So it was for millions when it was announced that Mark David Chapman shot John Winston Ono Lennon in the back when he returned home to The Dakota apartments on this date 30 years ago today. Forlornly, and forever, sealing those two, and place, in time. The passing of the decades since has only increased my appreciation for the artist, and lessened any time I dwell on Lennon's murderer. But, when I do think of him (like today), it is this quote from Michael Mann's The Insider that always comes to mind:
"Fame has a fifteen minute half-life, infamy lasts a little longer."
So where was I? You would have found me sitting alone in an L.A. apartment (a girlfriend's at the time who was away at an evening college course) watching a now ancient 19" cathode ray tube television set. Ironically, that location is less than 2 miles from where I live now. I was viewing the Monday Night Football game, Patriots vs. Dolphins, when Howard Cosell made the sad announcement (a bulletin he did not want to do):



Since my mother had died two years previous in 1978, I thought I had no more tears for anything. I was mistaken.

16 comments:

  1. I had just taken a shower and was drying my hair with the bathroom door open. The bathroom was directly across the hall from my brother's room. He was sitting in there, listening to the radio but I couldn't hear it due to the hair dryer. He had been bopping along to Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" when I turned on the dryer.

    Suddenly, I saw him stop singing and this awful look came over his face. He stood there, staring slack-jawed at the radio. I turned off the dryer and said, "What?" He didn't answer me, so I asked it again. He still just stood there but then I heard the news on the radio. And then it was my turn to stare at it in shock. The tears came later when I could finally process what had happened.

    Thirty years later, the sadness is still there. If we go to Hollywood today, I'd bet there's some kind of vigil around his star on the sidewalk. I've passed by it on this day in the past and seen people standing around holding candles and sometimes each other's hands. He won't be forgotten anytime soon.

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  2. I don't think Lennon will be forgotten any time soon. His music & legacy are so much bigger than most others'.

    30 years ago I was little less than a dirty thought -my folks weren't married and there was a miscarriage before I was concieved-. I do know, however, how the news shocked my parents -both Beatles fans-. Grandma says my dad played Beatles music for what seemed like forever, and mom gasped every time a tune turned up on the radio.

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  3. The Sci-Fi FanaticDecember 8, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    <span>A very thoughtful tribute M.  I understand what you were referring to over at my place earlier now that I know you posted.  
     
    Like you, my kids ove the Beatles.  I was young and remember the tragic day, but I'm afraid nothing too specific other than it was quite horrible.  I remember asking a lot of questions why?  of my folks.  
     
    Well, it's fitting you had brought up Lennon after writing about singer songwriter Paddy McAloon and thanks to you I added an additional tribute at the end of the entry because it struck me how funny it was I wrote specifically about McAloon, who- if you knew him, in many ways, is quite introspective like Lennon.  Thanks L13 for remembering and marking the moment.</span>

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  4. That is quite a touching memory, Elyse. My sincere thanks for sharing it here.

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  5. I was only 4 years old at the time, and though Magical Mystery Tour was in heavy rotation on my Fisher Price record player (due largely to the colorful cover) I don't think I was quite aware of who Mr. Lennon at the time of his death.

    Thanks so much for sharing your very personal memories of the moment, you paint a vivid picture, and though I've seen and been affected by that Monday Night Football clip hundreds of time, I can't imagine the shock and emotion witnessing it live must have been.

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  6. I remember so well from last year's posts your family's Beatles appreciation. Thanks for sharing those memories, cousin.

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  7. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and insightful comment, SFF. It means a lot, my friend.

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  8. Thank you, Colonel, for your remembrance and comment.

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  9. The Sci-Fi FanaticDecember 9, 2010 at 6:07 AM

    Wonderful choice in the song too L13.  Love that song.  I updated my entry with a nod to your site here.  Best, SFF

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  10. You offer some great musical insight with your update, SFF. Thank you for your generosity and the shout-out, my friend. You are a class act.

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  11. I had to be in Hollywood last night for a screening and sure enough, I saw a Lennon vigil. A bunch of people were dressed like him, one guy had on a white suit a la Lennon on the Abbey Road cover. 

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  12. Thank you for this, Michael. There is no time nor distance that lessens the pain of this for me. I thought that if I waited until today to read this that I would at least avoid a fresh spate of tears. That was not to be.

    Thirty years on. Imagine - if you'll allow me that word - all that he might have accomplished with three more decades to his span.

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  13. I wish I could have been there. Thanks for letting us know, Elyse.

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  14. Beautifully stated, Naomi. Twisting a lyric, understanding all you see. Thank you for your words and sentiment, my friend.

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  15. We were all there.

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  16. So true. Thanks, christian.

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