40 years ago today John Lennon was assasinated. I was an awkward 16 year old sophmore going to an Arts high school in New Haven Connecticut. Raised on the music of the Beatles. My Family had both the the blue and red anthology albums. My peers and I all knew the lyrics to John Lennon”s song Imagine. It is a beautiful song with a beautiful idea…. Who wouldn’t want peace and love… no more war… but like the title “Imagine” it was just that in our minds…. a dream. A puff of smoke for some.
My generation and I were the by-product progeny of the 60’s counter culture more or less. We were bridging the gap…. looking to find our way… break things…. discover things… rebell and show we had ideas… and good ones… And Lennon’s music was part of our sound track. We were respectful of his mastery. We were told he was brilliant. He was an icon. A celebrity. Some how a magical profit of words and music. Like the lyrics to Instant Karma “We all shine on, Like the moon, the stars and the Sun….” It’s gonna get you…. It got him. The fragile idenity of who you are and what others think of you…. the dance of power and fame…. One man’s bullet…. and suddenly the mystic was gone…. the prophet gone…. the space he left behind became an abyss of folklore and history. He became mythic and messiah…. larger than life…. a God…. not a man… idealized….
Lennon voice when he sings Norweigan Wood has always stuck to me. That simple song. I can’t help thinking the melody was co-opted from some old folk song. Timeless it hangs in the radiowaves that pass through time and space. An ear worm I sometimes have to find distraction from…. ” I once had a girl or should I say she once had me….” …..” she asked me to stay and told me to sit any where. I looked around and noticed there wasn’t a chair…” My understanding of the lyrics have changed as I have grown. It is part of what I would call my archtypal music. Something to sing at a fire under the moon or while driving to fend off the road ghosts.
In 40 years it didn’t get better. There are more bullets and guns. Their is more war and hatred. The planet struggles to keep up with us. The poor get poorer and the rages of a plague that has taken so many. Money and media have produced Gods of power and celebrity. Leaving so many to imagine a world they might not every be part of.
I do not want to imagine. I want to live, collaborate, cooperate, create, build, take action and be part of a world that cares about itself and the relationship it has to its health and well being…. for all beings. Mr. Lennon you gave us the vision and we gave you (the man) all the power. With that we look to your ghost for the answers instead of inside us. In 4 decades you became a symbol that embodies so much about what we want and yet you are an empty icon that we admire and some worship to our detriment. Just like that Jesus fellow…. We just do not get it and that is why we are here now.