Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Memories of John Lennon & The Beatles

I became a Beatles fan in 1975 or 1976 when I was 13 or 14 years old. I'm sure I'd heard The Beatles (and the solo works of the members) on the radio earlier, but I didn't start buying records with my own money until I was fourteen, living in Germany, and going to high school in Munich. At lunch time, I'd go across the street from my school in Munich to the BX or PX (base exchange or post exchange, I don't remember which one they were calling it then) and sometimes after going to the Stars and Stripes to buy my comic books (I've been reading comics since 1975!), I'd go to the main department store and buy some records. The first Beatles albums I bought were Beatles Red and Beatles Blue, which were both double albums, greatest hits type collections. How could I not love The Beatles after listening to those albums (I'd argue that how could anyone not love The Beatles after listening to any of their albums)!?

One of my other favorite Beatles albums I'd bought was called Beatles Love Songs (another double album, that had their logo and the album title on a nice "simple" brown cover) and to this day I remember being excited that it was only $1.35 (or some variation thereof, I do remember it wasn't more than two dollars). Actually I thought someone had put the wrong price tag on that record, but I never questioned it, I just bought it and listened to it over and over and over. The Beatles Love Songs was probably the album that showed me the depth that John Lennon and Paul McCartney (and George and Ringo) had in their lyrics and the power of their arrangements and singing. They had a song seemingly about everything.

Flash forward to 1980 - I was a senior at John F. Kennedy Jr. High in San Antonio and I was still a huge Beatles fan, especially John Lennon, who I came to appreciate as being the most complex of The Beatles and wrote many of my favorite Beatles songs. My very favorite song of all time is John Lennon's Imagine, my favorite Beatles song is Across The Universe, and my favorite holiday song is Happy Christmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

December 8th, 1980, I was watching the Johnny Carson Tonight Show and all of a sudden a news flash announced that John Lennon had been shot (most of the country was watching Monday Night Football when Howard Cosell made the same announcement). I was shocked, sad, and numb. No one else in my family was really a Beatles fan so they didn't feel the same way. The next day when I went to school, I don't remember a cloud of depression over the death of John Lennon being felt by my fellow students (maybe because I didn't really have many friends as I only went to that school for my senior year so didn't get to know a lot of the other kids). So not only was I horrified and saddened by John Lennon's senseless death, I had no one to share my grief with. Fortunately at least one of the local radio stations was playing The Beatles and John Lennon music around the clock so I just immersed myself in my radio for what seemed like days.

John Lennon's death, thirty years ago today, was the single most shocking moment I can recall in my life at that point and illustrated to me how senseless and random the universe can be. One of my friends, (Mark Otto), on facebook a few days ago, commented to me that we should be happy that John Lennon left us such a huge wonderful legacy with his body of music. I agreed with him, but I still lament that I and the world were robbed of many, many years of songs John Lennon would have wrote (he was only 40 years old when he was killed). I loved Double Fantasy, the album that John Lennon and Yoko Ono had just finished when he was shot, but whenever I hear a song from that album, I have to reign in my emotions so as not to seem like a total nut case to those around me.

I know that most of my Ich Liebe Comics! blog readers aren't as ancient as me (grin), so you don't have personal recollections of what you were doing or how you felt when you heard that John Lennon had been killed, but for those of you who do have such memories, please share them here or with me when you see me at the shop. What is your favorite John Lennon / Beatles song (songs)?


Anonymous said...

I've been listening to "God" at least once per commute for the past month or so -- the last part of the song never fails to get me. I just believe in Yoko and me, indeed.

Thanks for this post! I was four when Lennon was killed, but it feels like I've known and missed him my whole life.

Heather said...

Came over on a reccie from devilc on Dreamwidth. Yeah, I'm of an age to remember that time period. What I recall was being puzzled about the whole thing, asking why somebody would murder him--probably one of the gentlest, least offensive people on the planet--and thinking it was a huge shame. I think that was one of my first exposures, as a kind, to the idea of the random nutball killer. As you said, to the randomness of historic events. It was disorderly, it was more of the Sharon Tate murders type of random cruelties popping up on the evening news, and it seemed like the end of a very sheltered era in the media. Of course I knew it wasn't that sheltered elsewhere--US troops patrolling the Korean DMZ was killing people on a regular basis, but that didn't make it onto the news much.
Imagine is probably the single most identifiable song, and at the time it came out, it was pretty radical politically. It was like he was tapping people gently, pointing out things don't have to be this way.
They still don't.

Ralph Mathieu said...

Thanks bossymarmalade and Heather for sharing.

Happy New Comics Wednesday 7/18/18 - Life of Captain Marvel, Magic Order #2 (we still have #1 too!), conclusion of Infinity Countdown, Justice League edition!

 Hope all of my friends going to the San Diego Comic-Con this week have a GREAT time!