This is a journey that I don’t want to take, but I feel I must.
Forty years ago, on a Monday night that appeared to be heading into the unimpressive category, I had returned around 10 PM from studying after class to my off campus apartment.
Monday Night Football was on the TV.
The game seemed unimpressive.
But even if it was a good one, in an hour or so , it wouldn’t matter anymore.
Howard Cosell, one of the colorful commentators who was either hated or despised for his “tell it like it is” attitude, made one of the saddest announcements anyone will ever have to make in their lifetime: That John Lennon, perhaps the most famous member of The Beatles, had been shot twice in the back outside of his Dakota apartment, and arrived at Roosevelt dead on arrival.
Stunned shock. Numbness. Immeasurable grief. All of that in a matter of seconds.
How could this be?
Beatles don’t die!
And they certainly don’t get shot!
And they don’t get shot when they advocate peace and love!
And they don’t get shot when they advocate peace and love and were the strongest and smartest member of the band!
NO! THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING!
And there wasn’t even any hope that he could survive because he was already pronounced DEAD!
BAM! END OF STORY!
With someone else, there might be some hope that the report was wrong, but Howard didn’t lie.
John Lennon had even appeared with him on a Monday Night Football broadcast several years before, so the news seemed to be foolproof.
The rest of the night is kind of a blur.
I know I reached for “Strawberry Fields Forever,”–what i think of as John’s signature song, and played it several times in a row. It was my favorite song at the time, and still is.
I remember crying for several hours before I packed it in to fall asleep.
Hell, I couldn’t hear “Imagine” without breaking down for many years.
It still takes me back to that night.
And then the tribute songs would rip my heart out!
Paul McCartney’s “Here Today.”
“Johnny’s Garden” by Elton John.
But the one that knifed my heart was “Beautiful Boy,” John’s lullaby for his son Sean, with his spoken word message about seeing him in the morning.
I cried more for John than most family members!
He was my music ambassador.
He was my life ambassador.
Now, I wasn’t naive enough to think that life was like a happy movie. Enough terrible things had already happened to me and in the world by then.
But if The Beatles ushered in an age of “innocence,” then John Lennon being shot to death put an end to it.
I wanted to play music my whole life.
Music makes people happier.
Musicians don’t get killed.
The world could never be the same.
Thanks for taking us along on your journey, John.
So sorry that it ended so soon.
I host a weekly radio show, “Prime Time Theme Attic,” that is currently on hiatus because of the pandemic.
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