He's been gone thirty years now and sometimes the loss still comes as a shock, like when I was watching the documentary LENNONYC a couple of weeks ago. After spending hours witnessing the charismatic figure battle to stay in the city he loved, battle with his own personal demons, and spread his message of peace, it was difficult, all over again, to let him go again when the documentary reached the moment of his murder, the moment he was snatched away from us too soon.
In fact, I was too young to really mourn John Lennon when he was killed in New York on December 8th, 1980. I became a fan in my teenage years, devouring Beatles and Lennon biographies, buying the music in tape format and reading John's own writings, In His Own Write, A Spaniard in the Works and Skywriting by Word of Mouth. He was an enormous influence on me, both creatively and in terms of social justice. He seemed fearless, direct to the point that the naked messages in songs like Working Class Hero, Imagine and Woman is the Nigger of the World, enraged and terrified some people while striking a chord of painful recognition in others who were ready for change, sick of hypocrisy and political and social double-think.
We will always have to fight for change and though I wish John Lennon were here to help us do it in person I'm extremely grateful we have his music and message, which continue to be powerful inspiration for anyone who wants to attempt living an authentic life in a society which often values artifice, money and power over what should matter—love, peace, equality.
Thanks, John, for everything.
I thought I'd include a few of my teenage writings (penned when I was sixteen or seventeen) that demonstrated my admiration and/or the influence John Lennon had on me as a young person. The first poem is directly about John, the second also touches on other aspects of my life (including what a stark blue my walls apppeared to be after taking down the collection of wall to wall posters that used to decorate my room!) and the third short piece clearly shows John's stylistic influence. I wrote quite a few pieces sporting a similar style around the same time and hope to post more at a later date. If you check out a story called Tomorrow Never Knows which I wrote several years later you'll see that John Lennon also makes an appearance there.
We all live and die
in our own time
But for you the city sighs
becoming its own grave
And the people all forgave
you for being human
I read the news today oh boy
and thought of John and Scotland and the Twins
but they were only in my head
I wished to be with them instead
of this blue room with four blue walls
and all of them bare
Once maybe someone told me that you have to be dead
but I wonder now if it’s all in my head
like John and Scotland and the Twins
and I wonder if they lie surrounded by blue
though I know it’s true of Scotland
and possibly the Twins
I read the news today oh John
and couldn’t understand what all the words were about
or where you’d gone with the Twins
I wondered if it was Scotland and
is it true that you have to be dead
or is it all only in my head?
The Adventures of Hippy Head in the Unreal World
“Hippy Hair! Hippy hair!” the girls cried, making faces. Hippy head was too bloated to mind the name calling. He was really grooving now, there were chicks and everything. Hippy head’s mind was filled with weird visions. He could barely see the girls from his place on the ceiling.
“Come up here and see me,” Hippy head roared pleasantly.
“Oh, Hippy head, your hair’s too long for us.”
“That may be,” said Hippy and tied it in a bow.
Songs for John
Here Today, Paul McCartney:
All Those Years Ago, George Harrison:
Empty Garden, Elton John:
The Late Great Johnny Ace, Paul Simon: