I remember much of the day of John Lennon’s death. I was ten/nearly 11 years old. I got up in the morning and walked into the living room to be told immediately by my mother that John Lennon had been shot and killed. “Is he one of the Beatles?” I enquired. Yes I was told. “Good.” I replied.
You see I was a supposed young punk and in my immaturity thought this was a cool thing to say. My older brother Bill who I hadn’t noticed sitting to the side of me in tears probably wanted to swing for me. “He doesn’t understand” My mum hastily interjected. I can’t remember much of what unfolded immediately after that but my next memory is of me walking to school accompanied by my brother and on seeing how upset he was apologising. My brother was so patient with my ignorance bless him.
“You know there are quite a lot of Beatles songs that are quite punk that you would really like. Revolution and Helter Skelter. You would love them.” And he was right. I did love them when he played them to me later that night.
I’m reckoning by around some point in the day the gravity of what had happened was beginning to dawn on me. I can’t thank my brother enough for his patience that day. Rather than scold me he led me towards Johns music. I fell for it pretty fast.
That night the BBC showed the Beatles film Help. My dad thought it a pile of nonsense. I thought it nonsense too. Excellent nonsense.
The first Beatles album I owned was Revolver. Given to me by the same patient brother. In later years I would give a copy of the CD to my nephew. I also around this time acquired a cassette of the John Lennon compilation album Shaved Fish. That’s when I started to realise I’d known Johns songs for much of my life. Great songs.
I was in town today buying a couple of new T-Shirts. I picked up one with the classic New York logo on it. Laughed to myself and thought “if I combine that with my faux military shirt it will look a bit John Lennon.” (in no way am I saying I’m anything like him.) I had no idea it was the 35th anniversary of his death today. Just one of those funny little synchronicities I’m very into. He’s obviously often in my mind and I’m happy to have him there. He’s an easy target for criticism. I prefer to go the harder way and hold him dear.
There’s been 1.15 million Americans killed by guns since John Lennon’s death. I know his campaigning for peace can seem naïve. It wasn’t. Nobody was more aware than him that he was a silly/fun advert for peace. He pointed this out many times. But at least he was a voice for something. Where are those voices in the corporatized world of music now. With the state of the planet you’d think there would be anti-war songs coming out every week. Sadly they don’t. Things, including the arts, are much more controlled now.
John Lennon’s silly/fun advert for peace is a voice I would give much for to still have in the world today.