What I said back then:
I’m not going to link anything here – if you can’t find Lennon material online, you’re really not trying.
I’ve done a fictionalised version of this already, but it will bear a little repetition. One early December morning in 1980, I awake as usual in my spartan room in Cowan House (You’ll notice, if you follow the link, that it’s recently been demolished. I managed not to shed a tear…) I turn on the radio, and am surprised to hear two Lennon tracks in a row, followed by the kind of silence which tells you everything you need to know. The subsequent news bulletin is still a little sketchy in the details, but there’s no doubt about what has happened. It’s the first time I have been affected so strongly by something since I left home; indeed, it’s probably the first time I have been affected so powerfully by anything. I can’t claim that he was one of my heroes, or that I had any particular link to him or his music, but this was a seismic event nevertheless. The conversation and the news bulletins were dominated by it for what seemed like weks afterwards – probably only a few days, in reality, and the music charts were full of Lennon for months.
And that’s what I really remember, I suppose – that Christmas period full of ‘Imagine’ and ‘Happy Xmas, War is Over’; Bryan Ferry crooning ‘Jealous Guy’ and those wire rimmed glasses staring out from every record shopfront. I suppose that in some strange way, the 8th of December 1980 marked an end to my innocence – it’s glib to say that nothing was the same again, but nothing really was, after that.
What I think now:
It’s a little overblown, but I stand by how I felt at the time. I was still a teenager, and it felt momentous. I also apologise for the abruptly dismissive first line – not sure what that was about!
I’m also not sure what John Lennon means to me now. As I already noted, I have a child who is partial to The Beatles, but I don’t think that extends beyond the end of the Sixties – I know he’s heard solo Lennon material, but I don’t think he’s as captivated by it. I come and go – mainly, I find myself wondering what might have been. More than for any of the other deceased artists in this list, there is a real sense that he might yet have produced something extraordinary or at worst unusual. I’d have liked to have heard that.
Oh, and the fictionalised version? It’s a long story, but not one I’m pursuing particularly. I’ll leave that extract there, but there’s not a lot else I’d want to do with it right now.
Not a huge amount, to be honest. I did go and visit the Beatles museum the last time I was in Liverpool, and found myself more moved by images and sounds of Lennon than I would have expected – I did draw the line at visiting his house, however. I also belatedly watched the ‘Anthology’ series, but enjoyed Scorsese’s George Harrison biopic much more. In the end, I suppose, Lennon affected my life, but more in the manner of his death than by anything he did while he was alive. I was born 10 years too late, I suppose.