I read the news today oh boy
26 years ago on a cold night I sat with my closest friends, Mack and Liam, in Mack’s Camero drinking beer from a gallon jug procured (illegally, of course…) from the Pitch and Putt, listening to the radio. The DJ broke in to say that John Lennon had been shot in New York City and had died in the hospital.
This was, for a group of high school seniors, our first brush with death, no matter how far removed from our own lives. Because John Lennon and the Beatles, among the others we revered (The Stones, Clash, Pistols, et al) were more a part of our lives than certainly most of our own families and friends. Mack and I were in a band together (Atlanta’s original Paper Lions), and we lived, breathed and dreamt rock and roll. Lennon’s death upset our world.
A few weeks later I began classes at Georgia State, hoping to get into the music business program. The first day of classes I wore a Lennon t-shirt, and a gum smacking, zit-faced blonde with the Farrah Fawcett hairdo stopped me in the hall to tell me “You know he’s dead, don’t cha?” as if I was some sort of moron for wearing the image of a fallen hero. I realized at that moment, in some way, that I wasn’t ready for what appeared to me to be extended high school. Fuck that. High school sucked, and I was loathe to continue the experience. So, five weeks later I left, never to return.
So why do I reflect on all this, 26 (yikes!) years later? A lot has happened in those years. I am the father of a swell 20 year old son, I have a wonderful life with a beautiful and talented wife, and I have managed to work a “real job” for 20 or so years now. But as readers of this blog know, in many ways I’m still that kid wearing the Lennon shirt. Music and the ideals it promotes still moves me, inspires me, and I still want to be a part of it. In some ways I am.
When I read about the death of John Lennon, decades later, it still makes me stop for a moment, and remember how these words so profoundly effected me then:
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
26 years later, we’re even further from achieving this than we were then. But to some of us, that dream wasn’t shot, and it didn’t die. Because it is not to us a dream.
It is us.