Home > Uncategorized > He might have changed the world even more than he changed the world…

He might have changed the world even more than he changed the world…

I was 14 years old when we lost John Lennon. It was a senseless act of violence…….perpetrated by a nobody. I’ve tried to forget the killer’s name. Some religious zealot with a broken brain and a hard-on for JD Salinger.

Howard Cosell told me, and told the world. In the middle of the Monday Night Football broadcast. It didn’t seem real. It still doesn’t seem real. I don’t remember if I cried or not. I was alone upstairs, watching the game on my parent’s color TV in their bedroom. They placed it on top of a tall dresser, so I would watch it standing up to get the best view. All I can recall is being sort of frozen in place. I must have yelled out to my sisters or my parents. I’m sure I was the one who broke it to them. Cosell scooped the world.

The Beatles weren’t even out of their 20s when they called it quits. My introduction to their music came from the usual places. Big brothers and big sisters and the radio. These songs would not go away. One of my earliest Christmas memories was finding the famous “red” double album of their early work under the tree. I had a high fever and was shivering on the couch, but underneath my blankets I clutched the record, and spinning it on the turntable burned my fever away.

I knew nothing then of Paul and Linda and John and Yoko or Apple record lawsuit chaos. The Beatles were gone already, in my mind they were old and retired. Every once in a while one of them might release a Christmas song or something. I didn’t have a favorite Beatle. I kinda agreed with George Harrison who when asked how many Beatles did it take to change a light-bulb answered “four”. John sang some and Paul sang some and George sang some and even Ringo got to belt out “Octopus’s Garden” and “With a Little Help From My Friends”. Why choose sides when you’re surrounded by friends?

So I was shocked to be reminded that Lennon was 40.

That sounded crazy to me. That was like….almost as old as my Dad.

John Lennon had been frozen in time……a perpetual mop-top who rebelled with the help of psychedelics and granny glasses. The ride from screeching “Twist and Shout” with a mouthful of lozenges to asking the rich royals to “rattle yer jewelry” to donning Yoko’s fur coat on the Apple roof seemed like a million miles, but it was actually a mad sprint that took place in a few short years. And in our heads he was now on Mount Rushmore, and the legend had begun to take over. It was easy to forget he was a newly committed husband and a proud father and still too young for grey hair. At 14, 40 sounded like an eternity. Today, I can’t remember that far backwards. John Lennon had half a life in front of him, and suddenly 40 wasn’t old anymore. It was heartrendingly, tragically young.

The details were sickening. He was executed, essentially. Four bullets in the back. In front of his wife. From a guy who asked for and graciously received an autograph a few hours earlier. Lennon’s blood-splattered glasses became a ghastly, iconic symbol of the relentless gun violence that only seemed to happen here. Vigils popped up around the world. Everybody with candles, singing “All You Need is Love” and “Give Peace a Chance”, gathering for the type of communal hug that, ironically, we all desperately need right now.

For my generation, this was our JFK moment. This was when time stood still, and when the date rolls around every year we get goosebumps.

Like JFK, Lennon was a giant of a man with giant flaws who nonetheless always fought to bend that arc towards justice. They were fearless and feared. They were saints, and they were sinners. They led from the front.

Oh the things he might have gotten up to if he lived. After years of silence, he was making music again. He was in a good place. I can’t help but think of him surrounding himself with younger musicians, the kind that would push him down the roads he hadn’t already traveled. He might have re-made the 1980s. We’ll never know. He and Paul might have pulled out the acoustic guitars and sat knee-to-knee one more time and created one last bit of magic together, just for the crack. Or he might have sat back with his son, and watched the wheels.

He might have changed the world even more than he changed the world.

In a bit..

–tf

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