Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dec *th

 I was born on Paul McCartney's birthday 40 years ago...and the Doors, a band I had never heard of then, became my favorite band two years after Lennon's death...and today is also Jim Morrison's birthday.
Funny how things work.
....my sister came charging into my room. I was fast asleep. She screamed, "they SHOT JOHN LENNON!". 
Though I had read the phrase many times before in books, at that moment, I realized the meaning: I sat bolt upright in bed-immediately shocked beyond words.
 My sister and I were only about a year and a half into our introduction to the Beatles. She had the two-LP, red-jacketed, "Greatest Hits, 1960-1966", I had the two- LP, blue-jacketed "Greatest Hits, 1967-70".
We were at constant war over which was best.
"Day-Tripper" or "Hey Jude".
Not a question-a Sibling War.
I remember my parents religiously listened to a Classical music show out of Boston called "Morning Pro-Musica" hosted by the most solemn and serious classical music host you possibly imagine-Robert J. Lurtsema.
This was a guy who used to take vacations to Europe yearly to study German and French so he could properly pronounce the names of composers and their works, so he could go into archives and read original manuscripts so he could be a better presenter of the music he spun 5hrs a day. 
All classical.
He was amazing to listen to as a kid who loved music-but he had NEVER before expressed any interest of affinity for anything other than classical.
As a 10 yr. old I imagined him and his deep, rock of Gibraltar voice screaming-down anything other than Bach or Beethoven.
His voice, and the music he played was the soundtrack to my every morning from the age of 3 until I moved out at 18.

On Dec. 8th 1980..somewhere about 7:30 am, I heard the granite in his voice tremble and crack as he confirmed the death of John Lennon.
It was horrifying and beautiful.
He was clearly crushed.
In. the. few. measured. words. he. spoke. on the subject, you could hear his pain, his admiration.
I would never have guessed it then, but it has informed much of the rest of my life:Camaraderie is camaraderie, "I am an an artist, you are an artist, I am a woodcutter, you are a woodcutter," etc.,etc.
...a whole lot of things hit me at that moment-and on that whole day.
Good things that came from something awful and senseless.
In a year or so Anwar Sadat was killed, Pres. Reagan was shot.....it started to look bleak...like this was a new way of the World....like the 60s all over again...
...I think if Lennon hadn't been the first, because he lived for peace and died for nothing, if he had been the last, maybe the mood would have been worse, but as a little kid, when he was killed, the grown-ups rushed to point out that this in no way changed his greatness, or that he was a man who loved peace...
-if he had been shot last, it might have been a negative, cynical exclamation-point on humanity.
That may seem overly dramatic, but I was 10, and it was like someone had just shot Superman with a Kryptonite bullet.
Same as with Sadat.
Same as with Reagan..
...towering figures laid down by all the insanity and evil the World could muster.
Lennon's death-and the fact a whole new album was released not long after-was shocking to a young fan, but also proved a certain measure of immortality and unwillingness to give-in to despair.
It ended a budding chapter in my life, and taught me to just love music for what it was and is.

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