Yesterday was the 27th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon. I first saw the Beatles on that famous night back in February 1964 when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. I was just about to turn 16, and several girlfriends and I gathered to watch the show together. We were enthralled with the prospect of these “British Invaders” – our parents and grandparents were not.
My grandmother nearly passed out when Elvis Presley wiggled and gyrated across the stage on the Ed Sullivan Show years earlier – even though his lower body was hidden. She was absolutely mortified and did not mince words as she castigated Ed Sullivan, Elvis Presley, and a society that would allow this horrific display. In between breaths and heart palpitations, she declared the end of the world.
I didn’t even want to be around for a repeat performance. Besides now I was older and wanted to be with my friends when we watched these cute guys from England. I mean, really, how can you make comments and even act like you appreciate these rockers when your elder grandmother and your parents are sitting in the same room with you?
So, I watched the Beatles that night and loved their music. Beatles songs became the school bus favorites when we traveled to basketball games and band concerts. What fun it was to sing a rousing chorus of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” or “She Loves You, Yeh, Yeh, Yeh.”
As the years passed though, I began to focus more on the music of John Lennon. I am not sure why, but he was my favorite Beatle. Maybe because I have always hated war and opposed the Vietnam War from the minute it started and as it gained momentum. He became a symbol of peace and love of humanity.
His songs became more worldly with less pop rock and fluff. They said something, and they said important things, like “Imagine” and”Give Peace a Chance.” They talked about his life with Yoko Ono, like “Woman” and “Watching the Wheels.” And, they talked about a life he would never see growing up, “Beautiful Boy” written about his son, Sean.
I remember the day he was killed – I still have the People magazine with the cover of John and Yoko. I put my headphones on and listened to his music and cried. While I know many probably have no conception of what it is that draws some of us to John Lennon, I truly feel sorry for them if they cannot understand the idea that religion and geographical lines should not diminish our caring for our fellow human beings and their sufferings.
Lennon understood that. It is too bad so many others don’t. The link takes you to a website. It is well worth your time in listening to what he has to say.