John Lennon, remembered

Feet of clay, head in the stars

ETA: Speaking of feet (not to mention brains) of clay, today is the anniversary of Lennon's birth, not of his death. Consider me suitably embarassed.

I can only infer where I was when I first heard John Lennon was shot: at home, listening to something on CBC Radio.

I was shocked, I was saddened. Lennon was to me first and foremost not just a (former) Beatle, but the political Beatle. I wouldn't have braved the glare of the check-out woman at the drug-store to buy my first issue of Playboy magazine; between my adolescent embarrassment about sex and my nascent feminist consciousness, it was an excruciating moment.

But the interview itself (now miraculously online here) was well-worth any amount of embarrassment. Who doesn't want to learn that one of the closest things one has to a hero is intelligent, thoughtful and (best of all) has come through fire to find happiness?

At least, that's how I remember it; I don't expect I'll be reading what's posted at the link above, or pulling out my ragged, coverless copy of the original magazine to confirm those impressions any time soon. When you're older than your hero was when he was murdered, there seems little point in re-living those last days of his life.

My Beatle's dead

Lennon and Ono in 1968

So, yes. Lennon. Hero. Brilliant musician. As I've noted elsewhere, I wore out not one, but two copies of Abbey Road.

As I said, his murder shocked and saddened me, but I was nearly as shocked when I went to school the next morning.

The place was a sea of black arm-bands. Friends and mere acquaintances alike wandered the halls and mulled in the Big Room like mourners at a funeral who had actually cared for the deceased.

I confess, I thought then that the display was kind of ridiculous. I don't think I had the concept to articulate it, but I thought it an ostentatious display of teenage angst, of melodrama. After all, I thought, It's not like any of us knew him in person!

Since then, through the untimely deaths of celebrities like Princess Diana and especially Kurt Cobain that, whether I understand it or not, many people invest a great deal of emotion into people they don't know — rational or not, these people, these icons, matter to people they have never met. And so it matters when they fall.

It's kind of ironic that Lennon was one of them, but there it is (or was).

Now, click the play button and remember (or discover).

Spread the word!