Friday, 9 December 2016

John Lennon.

As if yesterday wasn't depressing enough, when I got home I realised that it was also the anniversary of John Lennon's assassination in 1980.

Suddenly, I was back 36 years, sitting in Littlewoods Café in Slough the following morning, drinking a truly dreadful cup of coffee and reading a special, early edition of 'The Evening Standard', which had been rushed out because of the news.

There I was, 6 months out of university unemployed and unemployable in a country with nearly 3 million out of work and many of them just like me.

I was sat there in my Dr Martens, a mod and fairly rebellious with it and wondering why I was quite so upset at John Lennon's death.

He was 40, for goodness sake - so old!

I'd been a Beatles fan in the 1960's - I was very young indeed then but it was a group that was engineered for the young; wacky and funny and non threatening.

Or at least that's how it started off.

And I suppose, Paul McCartney and John Lennon had followed completely different paths to end up at opposite places.

John, angry and rebellious, was for most of his life quite selfishly offensive to people he had relationships with. That this came from a difficult childhood which ended with his separated mother being run and killed over by a policeman who was never prosecuted didn't make it any better.

Paul on the other hand, handsome and full of charm was loved by all..... but this hid a series of selfish relationships and some rather uncharming behaviour.

By 1980 it had turned out quite differently; John had reconciled with Yoko and devoted himself to looking after Sean, his new baby. The songs he released in 1980 reflected a life where he baked bread and looked after his toddler.

He'd come to terms with himself and found a way of dealing with his past which meant that his music was less dramatic and exciting but he'd become a better person in the process.

At which point he left The Dakota Building for the evening, signing an album for Mark Chapman who was waiting outside the front door.

Later that night as he returned home, Chapman shot him.

When I woke up the next morning, all the radio stations were just playing Beatles music. In the end they fixed on 'In my Life' and that Lennon composition dominated the rest of the day.

It was a truly miserable December morning and I couldn't think of anywhere better to be than in the depressing café above Littlewoods store to think things over.

Lennon wrote songs that could challenge anything - from the Viet-Nam War to his own status in 'Working Class Hero'.

But he was just as able to write the most intimate songs like 'Julia' which is about his mother.

It was inexplicable that just as he'd got things together at home, was writing new music and was a better person than he's been all ended.

I can't say I came to any great conclusions 36 years ago, especially after drinking such a really, truly bad cup of coffee.

But something very special died that day.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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