Sunday, October 10, 2010

John Lennon would have turned seventy yesterday.

I walked through the door around 9:30 that night. Band practice had gone late, and I was glad to finally be home after a another long day during a busy senior year.

"Did you hear what happened?" My mom's face wore a grave expression.

"What?"

"John Lennon died. He was shot."

When something profound happens in our lives, we take mental snapshots which allow us to easily access that memory for the rest of our lives. We remember time, place, even what we were wearing. And since yesterday would have been John Lennon's seventieth birthday, that Polaroid in my mind has surfaced again with vivid clarity.

I had just begun to explore The Beatles that fall of 1980. During a typical youth filled with exciting discoveries and subsequent journeys, this was one of the grandest. I dove in head first, decorating my locker with Beatle paraphernalia, attending a show in Seattle called "Beatlemania," where the performers looked and sounded like the Fab Four through each phase of their odyssey.

John had just released an album entitled "Double Fantasy," so the planets were aligned for my obsession with all things Beatle, past and present. I had already decided that he was my favorite; his edginess and his rebelliousness appealed to the region of my personality which never dared question authority. Sure, Paul was no slouch, but in my eyes, John represented the band's essence.

As a teenager, the news of his death hit hard, yet my adolescent brain couldn't quite grasp its permanence. "Forever" is an abstract concept to an eighteen-year-old, but the older I got, and the more I became acclimated outside my universe of instant gratification, the worse I felt about a world without John.

October 9 is his birthday, not the day of his death. We should celebrate his life and his music, his causes and even his struggles, and try not to dwell on his abrupt departure. Since he's been gone, however, I can't get past what thirty more years would have been like with John Lennon in our lives.

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