The Day Our Music Died
I will always remember December 8th, 1980. It started as usual. I remember listening to the radio for the weather before going to work. Instead of talking, they played the Lennon song “Imagine.” I thought my mother had the wrong station. Then I heard it…….
At about eleven p.m., New York time, John Winston Lennon, was pronounced dead at Roosevelt Hospital. His murderer, Mark David Chapman, waited for the police……
From then on, I don’t remember more. Somehow, I got dressed and went to work. Everyone there was in mutual shock. The young office clerks, like me, could not believe someone would murder an innocent man like him. The irony of it all was he was a peace lover.
All day at work I was numb, and yet I felt anger. I still feel anger to this day. How could such an IDIOT silence the voice of one of MY friends? I grew up with him. When he died, a part of me died too.
The first time I saw him he was on Ed Sullivan. Most of the show was boring, but tonight was different. Four guys with long hair, playing guitars and drums, singing of all things, “Rock and Roll” was on the boob tube. At first, I didn’t like them. I thought they were weird. What did you expect? I was only eight years old. Then, they grew on me. I started tapping my toes. I even sang along. Their songs were easy to catch on to. As they used to say on “American Bandstand.” They had a good beat and you could dance to them. To this day, “She Loves You” is still one of my favorites.
The next day at school the kids went crazy. The girls thought they were cute, except for the die-hard Elvis fans. The boys thought they were sissies because of their long hair. The teachers were afraid people would start imitating them. How right they were!
Then came marketing; bubble gum cards, shoes, clothes, interviews, trays, pins and magazines. You name it; they put their name on it. The word “Beatle” became part of the American language and later the world.
How was I affected? Well, I cried when they were on TV. I cried when they were off. I bought the trays, the pins, the cards, the whatever else there was. I made myself sick on bubble gun. My stomach recalls very well. It tasted like wallpaper. I bought the records, and played them over and over and over. One time, my father was ready to disown me. Had I been him, I would have. In short, I was a wreck.
Still, I was better than my neighbor. She was twelve and insane. She pulled so much hair out, she almost went bald. At one concert, she pulled a metal chair out of its metal sockets. She even wrote erotic stories and got me started writing. True confessions watch out! When we weren’t reading or writing, we would spend hours listening to the four “yeas”. She created Beatle wallpaper in her bedroom. We would take the old “16” magazines, take out the pictures and tape them to our walls. When her parents repainted, she put them all back.
Since her father evicted her every Sunday night, she came up to my house to watch them on TV. I couldn’t imagine why. We thought it was perfectly normal to cry and scream over four total strangers. Didn’t everybody?
As time went on, those strangers developed separate personalities. Paul was the lover, and still is in my eyes. Every girl wanted to hit the hay with him, I included. I may have been only eight but I knew boys had a purpose. John was the thinker. He was the most rebellious and not very well liked by the mature public, parents. He was my friend’s favorite. George was shy and quiet. He could replace anybody’s teddy bear. And then there was Ringo. He always looked so sad, everyone pitied him.
As the years went by and I started to gain a working knowledge of life, so did their music. They went for “She Loves You” to more topical songs like “Revolution.”
Even their comments changed. On August 12th, 1966, Lennon apologized to the entire world about Jesus. His little slip canceled any future chances to tour America. I always felt he was right and was treated unfairly. I did love the Beatles more than God. He wasn’t lying where I was concerned. Maybe that’s why he had to go that way. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
I couldn’t accept the existence of a deity who lets people suffer. The Beatles never let anyone suffer. Their music brought happiness and laughter. Sometimes, it even said what needed to be said. We wanted out of Vietnam very badly, and no one would listen. While we were singing “Give Peace a Chance”, our “Nowhere Man” president didn’t head one word we said. He was too busy with Lady Bird. President Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the deaths of almost 57,000 people.
With the introduction of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi came a needed addition to western thought. Ideas of Karma, reincarnation and doing good just to do good became the thing to do. We in the western world only cared about money and material possessions; the eastern world cared about souls.
Then it happened, the beginning of the end. Brian Epstein, their manager and friend, was found dead. The four argued. They sued and eventually broke up. Millions of people were shattered. The rumors began. Who started what and why? Each had his own group and the years went on.
From time to time there were rumors they were getting back together again. People tried to bribe them with money and publicity. Nothing would work. The magic was gone. “Saturday Night Live” even did a short skit on the Lennon-McCartney feud. If ever two appeared together the show was sold out. As many times as they played together, you never saw all four. Yet, we all hoped and prayed.
More years went by. The split became worse. Paul became more involved with “Wings”. Ringo with movies and TV. George with whatever was East Indian, and John with being a househusband.
I was no more eight years old; I was twenty-five.
Then came John’s fatal decision. It was time to record another album, “Double Fantasy”. The album was a change from any material he’d ever done before. It centered on his re-entry into the music world, and our introduction into his family life. The once vocal and angry man mellowed into a loving human being. Sure, he made his mistakes, more than any of us would. But, he got his head straight. He accomplished in those few years what people have not been able to do in a lifetime.
“Double Fantasy” was not much of a hit. Very few people I knew cared for it. It’s too bad his murderer didn’t feel that way. He showed his gratitude by violence. The last thing John did was sign his album. To this day I cannot play it.
Minutes later the news spread. Crowds began gathering around the Dakota Arms. They sang songs, held candles and posters, cried and stood numb for hours. Some brought flowers and laid them on the building. The reaction lasted for days. The news media ate it up. Stores had a run on Lennon records. Orders of “Double Fantasy” were backed up.
As I watched the crowds on TV, all I could do was hum a tune of one particular song. The title was “In My Life.” The words were:
There are places I remember; all my life, though some have changed. Some forever, not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments, with lovers and friends I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living. In my life, I loved them all.
I later found out it was his favorite song and is now mine. He wrote it while riding a bus through this old neighborhood. The song sent me through memory lane. I remembered grade school. How my teachers were worried. I remembered bubble gum and gym shoes. I remembered mass hysteria and sore throats. I remembered ridiculous stories. I now am trying to be a writer because of it. I remembered violent protests and political apathy on the part of our elected officials. I remembered it all. And yet, I didn’t remember it with tears, but with happiness. Instead of celebrating his death, I celebrated his life. I did the same with George. It was music that mourned not me. He and I had grown up together and nothing could separate us.
The only other song that went through my mind was “American Pie.” It had many meanings, depending on whom interpreted it. The one line that stood out went like this….
I can’t remember if I cried, when I read about his widowed bride. Something touched me deep inside, the day the music died.
The day OUR music died. John may be gone but not forgotten. His music will always be with us. I can’t think of a better epitaph that then second verse of his favorite song……
But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares to you. And these memories lose their meanings, when I think of love as something new. Though I know I’ll never loose affection for people and things that went before. I know I’ll often stop and think about them. In my life, I love you more.
P.S. Since I wrote this many years ago, my girlfriend that went through Beatlemania with me died at the age of 35 from cancer. She loved John very much. He was her favorite. Who knows? Maybe he was there to greet her. When she died, I sang the same song.
||About the Author - Henriette Moustakis|
I have been in love with the Beatles since I was 8. I have always loved writing and have about 40 screenplays on the net. They can be found on Fanfiction.net. My pen name is girlmoustakis. I love birds, especially cockatiels. I have one called Bozo. He is named after a famous clown from Chicago in the sixties. He is human. Visit me on Myspace