Remembering John Lennon

[The Beatles were already broken up when I fell in love with them. Since I wasn't able to be part of an actual Beatles fan club, this is my fan letter and mostly thoughts about John.]

It's a busy time of year with so much to be done, list items to be checked off, at times giving me the feeling of being pulled in several directions at once. But for the last while, John Lennon's been on my mind. I've been singing his songs and humming them. The Beatles have been everywhere lately with the release of their library on iTunes, Paul's appearance on Saturday Night Live, and John on the current cover of Rolling Stone magazine featuring his last interview given three days before his death, the 30th anniversary of which was last week.

My thoughts take me back to the morning after his assassination. I'm getting ready for school and have to reapply my makeup because I've cried the first attempt off, and my mascara's a mess. The feeling I had that day as I looked around me at the other kids at school was similar to the feeling I had the day of my father's funeral. I couldn't comprehend how people were able to go on. How could they go about their business, as if this amazing person hadn't just left us all and would no longer be a part of our world? I haven't felt the same way about the death of a public figure since.

I've been thinking about the controversy he seemed to continually generate. Why? He was honest and bold. He believed in using the platform he'd been given as a world figure to promote his views. Was he cynical and bitter? Sometimes he seemed that way, but as Husband pointed out in a conversation we had just yesterday, John's music and his message came from a place of hope and faith; the belief he held that we could all do better; we could all be better. His song Imagine was just that--an invitation for us all to imagine what life could be like when we got rid of the differences that serve to divide us all. But people are very sensitive when it comes to matters of religion and country, so they attacked him as being a Godless Communist. I never saw John as being anti-God, though. What I got from him was a desire to challenge people to think outside of political constructs, to analyze and reason for ourselves and not follow blindly. When he sang "All we are saying is give peace a chance," that's all he meant. It's a sad commentary on society when we become defensive and feel threatened by a message of peace.

Then there's Yoko. Beatles fans and critics treated her and acted as if she were the devil. Why? They saw her as breaking up the band, and while she, admittedly, probably made things more tense between the bandmates, John had one foot out the door already. He was restless, fought with his mates, and wanted to try new things. Maybe part of his frustration came because of the harsh treatment Yoko suffered. Wouldn't it be hard to be kind to the same fans who were collectively giving the finger to the woman you loved?

She was his muse. He saw in Yoko an artistic equal as well as someone he loved with all of his heart. If I were to ever have the chance to meet Yoko, I'd give her a hug for keeping the torch alive all these years, and for protecting John's legacy and not letting his music be used to sell laundry detergent or breakfast cereal. One more thing about Yoko, she lived with a genius, and that is not an easy task. (I say this from personal experience.) Geniuses can be prickly and easily irritated. Their minds work differently. She completed him and he completed her. They were like two halves that belonged together.

Personally, in hindsight, I'm glad the Beatles broke up when they were on top. They'd reached maybe (or maybe not) the peak of their collective creativity. Their music kept evolving, getting more sophisticated and rich. They sounded good, looked good. Really, they were beautiful. They went out on top, sparing us from having to see a group of worn-out, past-their-prime guys trying to recapture the magic; catch lightning in a bottle. They remain in our memories, as a group, lovely and innocent, from their haircuts and matching suits to their long beautiful hair.

Thank you, John. I'll always remember you.


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