08 December 2006 by Published in: General musings 14 comments

As the month of December 1980 began, John Lennon was riding a wave. His comeback album, Double Fantasy, was the number one selling album in the world, and it had two songs that went to number one on the singles charts. He was enjoying not only a resurgence, but his best record sales as a solo artist and since the break-up of the Beatles. He was happily married to Yoko Ono, and they had a five-year-old son named Sean.

On the evening of December 8, 1980, a demented young man named Mark David Chapman, who wanted to be famous, waited outside The Dakota, the famed Manhattan apartment building where the Lennons lived. John and Yoko had spent the evening at a recording studio, and when their limo dropped them off, Chapman called out, “Mr. Lennon!” When Lennon responded, Chapman pumped five bullets into Lennon, who died a few minutes later of his wounds. It was 11:50 P.M.

I attended a concert by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Spectrum in Philadelphia that night. Bruce’s fifth album, The River, had been released that fall, and “Hungry Heart” was somewhere near the top of the charts. I was a 19-year-old sophomore in college. My friends and I drove about 3 hours to the Spectrum from Carlisle, and we saw a killer show. The Boss played for about 4 1/2 hours that night. The concert let out at about the time that Chapman fired the fatal rounds.

Nobody told Bruce Springsteen that John Lennon had been shot, so nothing was said during the show. We were completely ignorant of events when we left the arena to head for the cars.

When we got to the car, all of the Philly radio stations were playing nothing but Beatles and John Lennon songs, and we could not, for the life of us, understand why. Finally, there was a break in the music, and we heard the terrible news. Obviously, that’s a night that is forever burned into my memory, both for the incredible show we saw, and then for the horrific events that we learned of after the end of the show.

John Lennon did not deserve to die. With him died a little piece of my childhood and many of the dreams of a generation.

Rest in peace, John. You’re still missed. It’s hard to believe that 26 years have passed since that night.

Imagine

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

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…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

—John Lennon

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Comments

  1. MarylandReb
    Fri 08th Dec 2006 at 8:55 pm

    I never was a huge Beatle’s fan (I was a Rolling Stone’s guy…..however “Imagine” is one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

  2. Fri 08th Dec 2006 at 10:51 pm

    always remembered, greatly missed
    http://www.foryoubruce.com

  3. VMICadet
    Sat 09th Dec 2006 at 2:10 am

    No offense, but who cares. Independently, I wouldn’t give a nickel for any of em.

    Go Monkees!

  4. Mark Peters
    Sat 09th Dec 2006 at 5:15 am

    Eric,

    I won’t disrespect Lennon on your ‘blog’, and not on the anniversary of his death, but … My thoughts on John Lennon will wait for another day.

    I appreciate he might be part of your youth, but think that there are many more deserving of rememberance.

    Like the other Mark (I hate agreeing with him), I think the Stones were far more entertaining. There were other British groups, at that time, that were far more talented than the Beatles, but they didn’t have Epstein, George Martin or world media hype behind them.

    Despite my very large 60s collection, I’m proud to say that not one Beatles album can be found within it. I cringe when I hear c***p like Yellow Submarine, She Loves You, Lady Madonna, etc. I have a lot of time for Ringo as a person, and Harrison as a person/musician. For the other two; well I agree with VMI.

    Best wishes,

    Mark

  5. Mike Peters
    Sat 09th Dec 2006 at 10:20 am

    Eric:

    I caught Bruce & the E Streeters on their “Born to Run” & Darkness on the Edge of Town tours. Bruce does give a great show!

    VMI Cadet can’t really be serious about comparing the Monkees to the Beatles. The Stones maybe. But Mick’s guys have been together a tad bit longer than the Liverpool quartet was.

    While I never agreed with the “political” Lennon, he was extremely talented & with fellow Beatle McCartney wrote one of the most impressive song catalogs ever in any genre. 31 yers after the group’s breakup , their “Number 1” album/CD was released & it sold enough copies to be number one in sales.

    Mike

  6. Sun 10th Dec 2006 at 1:35 am

    A big part of my childhood died that terrible night as well. I grew up on the Beatles – at at that age in the 60’s and early ’70’s not only did I not understand any political overtones, I wouldn’t have cared if I did.

    I have early Beatle record and song – and a complete collection of all LP’s stored safely away – even their true “firsts” – the original 45 of “My Bonny” and the Veejay label LP record that was released prior to Capitol.

    Just bought the new Beatles’ “Love” CD created by Martin, and have been listening to it quite a bit.

    J.D.

  7. Anne
    Sun 10th Dec 2006 at 10:44 am

    Never can understand why folks on your side of the pond are so hooked on the Beatles, or get so wound up about John Lennon’s death – no offence, Eric! It is, of course, always sad, for the family, when someone dies prematurely.

    I’m with Mark Peters on this, and it isn’t as if he died in battle or saved people’s lives – he wrote music.

    Regards
    Anne

  8. Sun 10th Dec 2006 at 11:10 am

    Hi Anne,

    I think it’s just that a myriad of things “define” our childhood… home, family, friends, music, food – all kinds of experiences. Know how an aroma can trigger a memory, for instance? Things were quite different in this country in the 60’s and 70’s compared to others, and all sorts of things formed the backdrop for our childhoods.

    As to your comparison, look how popular Jerry Lewis is other countries – for us, he’s a legendary comic but not nearly at the status as he is other places. And tastes for things like music are vastly different from one person to another and one country to another. When something like a band’s music forms such a backdrop to one’s life during those very formative – and difficult – years of life from age 10 to 20, anything related will have an impact on you later in life.

    Imagine how things will be when Mick goes – probably make Lennon’s death a blip on the screen – and Keith has been dead for years, so no big deal there…

    🙂

    J.D.

  9. Anne
    Sun 10th Dec 2006 at 11:36 am

    Hi JD

    I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, too. I didn’t particularly like the Beatles then, either, for the record – or the Stones (might as well go for broke!).

    I think I’ll emigrate when Mick goes, I hadn’t given a thought to the likely hysteria. It was bad enough with the mawkishness when Diana died – terribly un-British!

    Regards – Anne

  10. Sun 10th Dec 2006 at 4:29 pm

    I have always been a bit confused about the following of John Lennon and have often wondered about how a musician (any musician) could have this kind of impact on the world. After all, he was “just” a musician. However, perhaps that is really the testament to his work as his fans seem to have some kind of “spiritual” connection with him. Maybe that is also a statement about how important music was to “that generation” versus those of us that have followed.

    I will admit that (as a Country fan) I was very upset by the passing of my own personal favorite, Johnny Cash, but never felt this kind of emotional attachment. So although I don’t necessarily “get it” I do have to respect and acknowledge the impact that Lennon and his music must have touched something in people that has yet to be equaled.

  11. Sun 10th Dec 2006 at 10:13 pm

    Well, what can I say?

    I guess that’s why there are different flavors of ice cream. Michael, I would rather listen to someone scrape their fingernails on a blackboard than listen to country music. While I was sorry that Johnny Cash died, It really didn’t have any effect on me at all. The only thing I dislike more than country is rap. At least there some talent involved in country music. I can’t say that about rap.

    I appreciate everyone’s input and opinion.

    Eric

  12. Sean Dail
    Mon 11th Dec 2006 at 11:38 am

    Amazing that folks would respond to such a wonderful tribute by espousing their distaste for John Lennon and the Beatles. Thanks for remembering, Eric.

    I love the Beatles’ music; I’ve been to about fifteen Springsteen concerts; and I also enjoy good country music, though not much of the stuff that passes for country on the radio. Believe it or not, it’s all related, folks. I saw Bruce a couple of nights after Johnny Cash died, and he paid tribute to Mr. Cash’s influence on his own music by opening the show with I Walk the Line.

    Without Johnny Cash and John Lennon, the landscape of popular music would be quite different today. And we will soon be saying the same thing about Bruce Springsteen. You don’t have to like everything you hear; most of us don’t. But the great thing about blues, rock, soul, country, bluegrass, and even jazz (I’m leaving out rap, because I don’t begin to understand it) is that as musical genres they are constantly evolving and merging with each other. Most great artists in those areas will profess to being greatly influenced by artists in the other categories. There are quite a few artists that I have never developed a taste for; however, I would never deny their importance to the world of popular music.

    Give John Lennon his due, folks. He had a tremendous influence on much of the music you _do_ like, and his music will live on unlike much else produced in the 20th century. Rest in Peace, John.

  13. Michael Aubrecht
    Mon 11th Dec 2006 at 1:20 pm

    “and his music will live on unlike much else produced in the 20th century.” – excellent point Sean. Today’s “here today – gone tomorrow” music industry is certainly different from the generation of musicians that we are discussing here. As I stated above, I may not fully understand Lennon’s legacy, but I have to respect it as who else in the biz (minus Elvis) do people actually take the time to acknowledge the anniversary of their passing. I don’t think we’ll be doing the same for today’s artists, and I find it hard to envision blogs with tributes to Madonna or Brittany Spears (sp?).

  14. Gregg Orange
    Wed 27th Dec 2006 at 8:33 am

    I can’t stand anything on that Double Fantasy album by John Lennon, it’s a bunch of self-indulgent boring ballad crap about the relationship he had over the years with Yoko. One or two songs on the subject would have sufficed. If it hadn’t of been someone of Lennon’s stature, the album would have been summarily dismissed as being sentimental hogwash. To be honest, none of the Beatles solo stuff really moves me at all and I think that their best stuff was written around 1966. Sgt. Pepper is the most overhyped and overrated album of all time next to The Wall by Pink Floyd in my opinion. As far as The Stones are concerned, I think their best period was from about 1969-1972. The vast majority of recent Stones stuff sounds very “paint by the numbers” and overproduced to me.

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