Thursday, December 08, 2005
I don't know precisely where I was when, exactly a quarter century ago today, the news of John Lennon's death outside the Dakota on Central Park reached me. So,no, it wasn't as big as the Kennedy assassination nor 9/11 in that sense of burning a indelible brand of one moment onto my memory. But it did leave me and lot of others who grew up with the Beatles - which I guess is the notorious boomer generation - feeling utterly empty, utterly and unwillingly grown-up.
At that very moment, our youth and the long lingering twilight of the 1960s was done for. One of the three or four icons of that passing era joined history. Instantly, I (and no doubt many others) put away, at least for a respectable mourning period, our grudges towards Lennon and his (we always thought) ill-chosen life-mate. We had to accept as never before that the dream of seeing those four mop-top boys on stage together again was even more impossible than post-Yoko. The demise of the Beatles had traumatized an entire generation unused to permanent separation (in the way that our own children have acclimatized to the absurd prevalent divorce rate). Lennon's death sealed that split and we all were thrown into the hopper of the never-ceasing mills of passing time, forced to watch other bands, some pretty good, supersede our heroes. These new musical giants, like U2, the Police and Supertramp were mostly younger than us - damn it! - and we now found ourselves defending the Beatles' superiority to much younger friends and offspring, much as our own parents reacted to the fab four's "greater-than-Jesus" popularity, by muttering about how we shoulda' seen Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra in their primes.
A few preposterous moments outside the Dakota 25 years today uncomfortably reminded us of what was already long gone. So here's to the memory of John - and, ultimately, to the memory of the rest of us for whom his death spelled belated childhood's end.