John Lennon’s life ended far too soon on Dec. 8, 1980. His murder can still be painful to think about, even after so much time has passed. What are we supposed to do when confronted with a crime so senseless, a loss so needless? Today, on the 30th anniversary of Lennon’s death, we might as well remember all the joy he brought into the world while he was still alive. Several newly published pieces might help fans do that.
The latest issue of Rolling Stone features one of Lennon’s final interviews, conducted just three days before he died and never before released in full. The audio excerpts RS has posted online are essential listening. “I’m not claiming divinity,” Lennon said at one point. “I’ve never claimed divinity. I’ve never claimed purity of soul. I’ve never claimed to have the answer to life. I’ve never made any claims. I only put out songs and answer questions as honestly as I can.” Later he spoke on the ways his philosophy had and hadn’t changed since the idealistic ’60s: “I see the world through different eyes now, [but] I still believe in love, peace and understanding, as Elvis Costello said. What’s so f—ing funny about love, peace, and understanding?”
A short remembrance written by Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono and published on her ImaginePeace.com site and in the New York Times today is even more heartbreaking. It opens with her memory of making tea together in their New York City apartment – the kind of mundane pleasure that they were later robbed of for no good reason. “On this day, the day he was assassinated, what I remember is the night we both cracked up drinking tea,” Ono writes in closing. “They say teenagers laugh at the drop of a hat. Nowadays I see many teenagers sad and angry with each other. John and I were hardly teenagers. But my memory of us is that we were a couple who laughed.”
The Kinks’ Ray Davies also published a eulogy for Lennon in today’s Times. They didn’t know each other very well on a personal level, but the former Beatle had been a great artistic inspiration for Davies – not entirely different from the role he played in many fans’ lives. After hearing of Lennon’s death, Davies writes, “I thought back to when I was a 17-year-old student in the recreation room at art college and heard John sing ‘Twist and Shout’ on the record player, and how I was blown away by his directness. How his voice cut through all the nonsense and sent a message to me that said, ‘If I can do it then so can you, so get up off your backside and play some rock ‘n’ roll,’ as if to throw down a musical gauntlet.”
Later tonight, I will go to Strawberry Fields in New York City’s Central Park along with many others to stand in the cold and sing Lennon’s songs. How will you be remembering him? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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