John Lennon was a major influence on my life. When the Beatles broke up I started buying his singles and his albums. At first, I didn’t like all of them and I didn’t like it when he and Yoko Ono sang together. But over the years I kept listening to his songs and by the day he died, he had become not only my favorite ex-Beatle, but a symbol of a time where we held hope, rather than paranoia, about our future.
These are two excerpts from my book Memoirs of a Drugged-Up, Sex-Crazed Yippie ---Tales from the 70's Counterculture: Drugs, Sex, Politics and Rock and Roll____
The death of John Lennon____
About a month later I was still seeing Pauline off and on. We never had a tight relationship, but we kept seeing each other. One night we were sitting together on her black leather couch, covered with afghans. She also had a brown leather chair, a Zenith TV and a Sony stereo system in the corner. We had just made love and were now just cuddling on her couch. The room was dark and she had the radio on. The brightest thing in the whole room was the yellow numbers on the stereo. Then suddenly I heard some shocking news on the radio: “John Lennon has just been shot. He has been pronounced dead. A man shot him in front of his home and was taken away by police. He was smiling.”
Like much of America, I was stunned. People my age grew up with the Beatles. We were the “youth culture.” This seemed to be a wake up call that we were mortal. Our youth would not last forever. We would all grow old and die. To some, as with me, Lennon was an inspiration. I often identified with his lyrics. His song “Imagine” became an anthem from that day on. It represented the idealism we strived for in both the 1960s and 1970s. We wanted a peaceful world, void of nationalism, commercialism, materialism and religious violence. That dream was about to become a distant memory, almost unthinkable, in the 1980s. The Reagan era was about to bring the exact opposite, a country of greed, self-centeredness, arrogance and mean spiritedness. It was as if Lennon’s death and Reagan’s election victory were symbolic of the end of an era. It had been an era Lennon helped shape.
Lennon’s final lesson to me________
So I went to the kitchen and got half a bag of Rold Gold pretzels and my last bottle of Mickeys beer, which I had saved from a few nights ago. I went down to my bedroom. I pulled out the album “John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band,” which I had bought and listened to back in high school. I put it on the stereo and sat down on my old green bed. I put the pretzels and the beer on a small brown coffee table next to the bed. I hadn’t heard that album in a long time. As I listened to the songs, “I Found Out” and “God,” I suddenly understood what Lennon had gone through. I went through the same thing 10 years later.
In the words from “I Found Out”:
“There ain’t no Jesus gonna come from the sky.”
“Don’t let them fool you with dope and cocaine.”
He denounced both religion and drugs, almost as if they were the same kind of thing. And in the song “God,” Lennon denounced his role as an LSD mystic, using references from his song “I Am The Walrus” from the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour” album.
After a long list of things he proclaimed he no longer believed in he sang:
“I just believe in me,
Yoko and me,
And that’s reality.”
Click here for a good John Lennon Website.