Monday, October 4, 2010

John Lennon - Everyone Had A Hard Year


I never got to meet John Lennon. I grew up with him and the Beatles, because my older sister was of that age when they arrived in North America. We got to stay up for the Ed Sullivan show. It was unbelievable that my parents let us do so, because we were little. Everyone seemed to know this was a major shift.

I remember wearing my I LOVE PAUL button. My baby brother had a Beatles wig, and we sang "She Loves Me" all the time. I remember going to see "Help" and not understanding why they kept running around.

Later, all the changes the Beatles went through seemed to echo milestones for a generation.


I remember the night John Lennon was murdered. I was at the end of the street in a club at 72nd Street and Columbus with my best friend, David Cox. We were making a toast when Kerry Kennedy came to our table and whispered that John Lennon had been shot. It was such a bizarre, frozen moment. In absolute synchronicity, like zombies, we dropped our glasses, letting them crash to the table, stood up- leaving everything- and walked down the block to the Dakota.

There wasn't much of a crowd yet, maybe 20 or so people. Silence. Complete disbelief. Some people had candles already. We stood there, shoulders dropped, stunned.  I went home to call my then boyfriend who was a friend of John's. It was an other worldly experience.

Nobody expects a cool guy, an icon whom everyone loves and respects- one whose entire life was dedicated to music about love and peace and imagination- to be stopped by a lunatic. Even lunatics loved John Lennon, right?

A day later (this is on a material level, but there is a connection), I was at Tiffany's. It was nearing Christmas. I stopped in to look at my favorite watch. It was rare, from Audemars Piguet, a maker who rivaled only three watches in the world still made by hand. I'd waited for it for over a year. They got one. I wanted it. The salesperson who knew me said, very sadly, it's gone. Was bought. I said, really? Who else knew? She said that Yoko Ono had bought it for John two days before and it was being inscribed for him. So sad for her, I also felt sad for that little boy Sean, fatherless at Christmas. That watch, something meant to be given with love, probably had an amazing message written on it, collectively attached to another unrelated soul's life, one who'd spent 18 months of his own life building it, all to end up in an unopened box, it's recipient gone....

My boyfriend sent Sean a child sized battery-operated car. I think he didn't know what else to do. I know his intentions were good, but all I could think of was that kid riding around that cavernous, empty, echoing apartment, that small little innocent, without his father, in a room full of meaningless presents.

John Lennon does live.

George Harrison lives.

All of those brilliant lyrics, and the music that changed the world. Politics, gurus, open speech, freedom, love, all of it. They all got married. They each loved someone.

The genius of these boys who found each other in Liverpool affected everyone in music, just as Chuck Berry and Elvis and Little Richard had formed them. There is not a place on the planet that does not know something of these beings or their message.

I don't know why I'm having such a musical memory week. Maybe it never goes away. Maybe that is the point and the gift of it.