Thirty years ago right now John Lennon was living the last hours of his life. He was in a recording studio in New York City working on new music and planning a world tour. This time was supposed to mark his return from a five-year retirement but instead we remember December 8 as the day John Lennon died.
I grew up in a house where the Beatles’ music was usually playing somewhere in the background. My dad saw them in their first US concert in Washington D.C. and was a lifelong fan. That was passed down to me and I took it on with fanatical enthusiasm. I read everything I could get my hands on that detailed the Beatles’ career, music, and lives. John was my favorite. I could relate to his sarcasm and wit and I just liked the way he looked. His lyrics could somehow be profound and nonsensical, romantic and biting, clever and simple. Who else could write a song about burning down a girl’s apartment and make it sound like a love letter to a missed opportunity? This bird has indeed flown.
I was but a child when I heard that John Lennon was dead. It was a cold morning in Michigan and I was at the breakfast table when my mom told me he’d been killed the night before. For the rest of the day—and much of the week—his songs were on every radio I passed. His voice calling out through the speakers and from beyond this earth.
As shocking as that day was, it’s maybe more disturbing to me to know that 30 years on there’s now a whole generation who has grown up without John Lennon making new music. His legacy lives on and has even grown into icon proportions. But the man is gone and has been gone for a long time. That is a strange thing to consider.
All I can do is ensure that his music is playing in the background. Maybe my son will dig it too.