Reflections on John Lennon on the Anniversary of his Murder

***this was originally written on December 9, 2009 as a submission for Pat DiNizio's website***

From the time I was old enough to listen to & enjoy it, my father (a former Disc Jockey) raised me on what he considered "The Holy Trinity" of Rock & Roll; Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, & Little Richard. 

From the time I was in Nursery School until 4th Grade, I wanted to grow up to be Elvis. 

I mention this as a preface to my story:

December 9, 1980- 
I was 8 years old. I was getting ready to go to school, and the TV was on. 
I just wanted to watch my early morning cartoons, but the only thing on every channel was the news.
All I saw were people gathered in enormous crowds, crying in a way that I'd only seen my father cry on August 16, 1977 (when Elvis Presley died).  My dad was already at work that morning, so I asked my mother, "Mom? 
Why are all these people so sad?" She looked at me and said, "John Lennon was murdered last night."   "Who's John Lennon?", I asked.  Her answer, "He was one of The Beatles."  With the innocence only a child could posses, I sang out "I Wanna Hold Your Haa-aa-aand".  A few minutes later, I was out the door and walking to the bus stop, and I never thought about it again.

In 1987, I rediscovered the Beatles again.   Previous to that, all I had were a few Capitol "Starline" 45s (the Green swirl label), and a worn copy of "Meet The Beatles".   I started buying all the Beatles CDs I could find.   In 1988, I bought the soundtrack CD to the Documentary "Imagine: John Lennon". The music had an effect on me like nothing else I'd ever heard before.   I wanted... No, I needed to know more.   So I bought books, & rented movies, and of course, bought more CDs.  I knew all about the murder, but it still never had the effect on me that it had on all those people I saw on TV when I was 8 years old.

1989 - I'm 17 years old, and working part-time in a video store.   A new release comes in; "Imagine: John Lennon". I take it home and immediately put it on.  I'm mesmerized. I'm finally getting to see & hear the story of John's life career being told in a way I'd never experienced.  In HIS OWN WORDS.   Old interviews being used to form the narrative of the story. Suddenly, I didn't just know the music.  I KNEW John.  He welcomed me into his life the same way I'd welcomed his music into mine.  He became a friend.  Then I got to the last 5 or 6 minutes (before the credits) of the film.   I was there (as a fly on the wall) as John & Yoko got out of the car and walked towards the Dakota, and then... My friend was taken from me.   Finally, I understood why all those people on TV were crying when I was 8 years old, and although it was 9 years later, in my mind, it was December 9, 1980.  
The day after.   And I was right there with them.  Crying, singing the songs, and most of all, asking the question, "Why?".

December 9, 2009 - I'm 37 years old.  I've listened to all of his music (Beatles & Solo) many more times than I can count.  I've read many, many more books about John that I can count.  I've covered several of his songs in my own performances over the years, and some of them make me tear up while singing them. 

Over the years, I've learned that what I love about John Lennon, was The Artist.  His music STILL speaks to me in a way that only a handful of other songwriters do.   And although I (like other people) may not agree with, or care for a lot of the things he did in his personal life, his MUSIC inspires me to make the world a better place, by making myself a better person, "One Day At A Time". 

For me, 12/9/80 was the day I first heard the news.  For me, sometime in 1989, was the first time I cried. 

For me, 12/9/09 is the day I cry once again, for the loss of an artist whose music changed my life, and gave me some direction.  

If it wasn't for Elvis, there would have been no Buddy Holly.  With no Elvis or Buddy Holly, there'd have been no Beatles or John Lennon.   If it wasn't for my father, I'd have never wanted to be Elvis.  But, if it wasn't for John Lennon & The Beatles, I'd have never wanted to be the musician that I am now.

  ****************************Bringing Things Up To Date****************************

Nine years later... I've learned far more about the kind of person John was. I find parts of his life and personality to be a bit unsavory for my tastes. I've also found parts that make me wish I was more like him. He was far from perfect, and often at odds with himself. But aren't we all?  Still, after all these years, it's the music that keeps me coming back. I don't cry for John as much anymore. His loss still hurts. But because the music is still here, he's never really gone.


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