John Lennon wasn’t my hero. I was too young for the Beatles; they “retired” in 1970. I heard their music over the years, but it didn’t resonate.
The Beatle who died 37 years ago today was an enigma to a teenage boy growing up as a musician. Instead of wallowing in excess, he married this strange looking, non-groupie intellectual. I remember thinking, “that’s different.” He spoke of everything but sex, drugs, and rock and roll, and then he was gone; murdered by an insane fan. I was on stage when someone walked up to me and said “John Lennon is dead.”
It was only then, after his death, that I discovered John Lennon.
I think the first Beatle song to catch my ear was Ticket To Ride, almost 20 years after it’s release. It was then I began to realize the songs I liked best were all sung by Lennon. John didn’t have a smooth singing voice; that was McCartney. Instead, John Lennon was that slight tug of gravity that pulled both at your heart and conscience. I felt it the first time I heard Revolution, and can still hear it in Imagine.
He was both an artist, and a spoiled brat. That’s why his death was so tragic. I think he would have grown into an ever stronger force, with even more insight and imagination. But that story has been told many times. Still, forty years later, I can still feel his tug. John Lennon came along at the most unique of times; war, fear, distrust and the greater promise of love and redemption. In the end, he chose the latter.
What in the world you thinking of
Laughing in the face of love
What on earth you tryin’ to do
It’s up to you, yeah you