Remembering Lennon: The Death of a Legend

Remembering Lennon: The Death of a Legend
“Everybody loves you when you’re six foot in the ground” – John Lennon
(Article is from December, 2010)
Written by: Kate Houser

December 8th, 2010 was a chilly day like any other in this cold winter month. Its grey skies and snow sprinkled white grounds surrounded people as they walked to where ever they needed to be. The day went on like any other as bustled streets became home to a sea of people with glove covered hands closely gripping blackberry’s and winter hats covering ear pieces linked to pocketed iPods. The soft hum of the tune that played into each head was only recognized by the lyrics that were barely capable of being made out. Lyrics ever so soft, yet still identified as the newest hip hop or pop song. The streets were busy and as the cloud hidden sun slowly began to set, night time fell into place.

Dec. 8th, 2010 may have been just like any other cold winter evening, but close one’s eyes and imagine the room spinning as time travel’s back to exactly 30 years ago. It’s interesting to think about…what was happening in our world at this exact time in another decade? Opened eyes would reveal an entire new time period in our country and culture. It would welcome the night of Dec. 8th, 1980 on the streets of New York City. This night may be filled with bright neon colors and bulky jewelry flooding the streets with soft rock music playing on an eight-track tape as cars drove by.  

Imagine sitting on the curb alongside a street in New York City near West 72nd Street outside the Dakota apartments staring into the vacant streets. It may seem to be a normal chilly December night in the 1980s, but this night, at this exact location, history is about to change. For tonight stands as the death of one of our countries most influential musicians. Death, in fact, would be an understatement…murder, now that’s a more suitable word. Dec. 8th, 1980 is the night the world lost one of music’s biggest talents: John Lennon. Dec. 8th, 2010 marks the thirty- year anniversary to this compelling and horrifying murder.   

People will always remember the magic that the music of John Lennon and The Beatles created. John Lennon once said, “Everybody loves you when you’re six foot in the ground”.  This statement is all too true. People of all ages are able to appreciate and praise the work of Lennon. It’s highly doubtful that the hysterical screams that welcomed The Beatles to stage upon every performance will be forgotten by those who had the privilege of experiencing them live. Even for the music lovers of my generation, The Beatles are a staple in music, even in the 21st century.

Radford University junior, Kaila Greco said, “I wasn’t even alive during the big ‘Beatles craze’ and yet I still listen to them. Since iTunes recently released all their songs, I have a few of their classics on my iPod”. People of all ages have learned to enjoy songs such as “Imagine” and “Come Together”, and artists today are constantly doing covers of their music. It’s no surprise that one of the biggest bands of the ‘60s and ‘70s were able to leave a mark on the music industry long after their time.

One thing fans loved about John Lennon was the truth and honesty his music brought. His lyrics were often tied to aspects of his life such as love, family and loss. The song “Mother” for example says, “Mother, you had me, but I never had you. I wanted you, you didn’t want me. So I, I just got to tell you, goodbye, goodbye. Father, you left me, but I never left you. I needed you, you didn’t need me. So I, I just got to tell you, goodbye, goodbye…”. Lennon’s mother died when he was a teenager and his father abandoned him most of his life. He was able to hide behind his circle rimmed glasses, but the truth was always exposed through his music.

Lennon also inspired his fans by his work outside of the music industry. He constantly promoted peace and protested against the Vietnam War. He did so much that the government had to step in to control the movements he led. When asked about the influence of Lennon, Radford University senior, Johnathan Race Sterchi said, “He was a huge influence for the entire world, really. He influenced rock-and-roll, peace on earth and the Vietnam War. I definitely appreciate the work and music him and the Beatles did”. Lennon was more than just a music icon, he was a hero. So many followed in his footsteps and were countlessly inspired by his interviews, protests and lyrics in songs such as “Imagine” in which he sings: “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can, no need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people, sharing all the world…” His death marked the loss of someone who strongly influenced an entire decade in music and helped alter political and cultural movements.

Sadly, Lennon was killed by five bullet shots into his back as he was entering his Dakota apartment building. His murdered was 25-year-old Mark David Chapman who had gotten Lennon’s autograph just hours before he killed him. After shooting Lennon, Chapman waited for the police to arrive while standing next to the gun, calmly reading “The Catcher in the Rye”. The death of John Lennon sent shock waves throughout the entire country. When interviewed, a man who wishes to remain nameless, stated that he was 19-years-old when Lennon died, and he was watching football that evening. The sports announcers paused their commentating to report the devastating news to the world. He remembers being in college and a lot of his hall mates were really upset about the news and compared the loss of John Lennon as devastating as the loss of Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson.

Indeed the loss of John Lennon still rings 30 years later in the hearts of many who worshiped, and continue to worship his music. There’s no doubt that his legacy will continue on and further generations will appreciate his talents and in ten years we will recognize the forty year anniversary of the loss of a music icon and political hero. In the words of John Lennon: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Perhaps Lennon would like for the world to let loose, have some fun, and live life while one still can.