Sunday, December 11, 2005

John Lennon: 25 Years Gone


In 1980 I was still living in Ithaca, NY. It had been an eventful year. My period of study at WCIC-13 had ended abruptly in mid-year. Ronald Reagan was elected President. My artistic friend Mark Lebowitz committed suicide in July, after battling personal demons for many years. And then, just as he was enjoying a career-revival, John Lennon was taken from us...

It was only three years past the PUNK explosion of '77. We were still occupied with thoughts of the Cold War, yet hopeful because rock remained revelant to our lives. Everything seemed to center on the music. Culture, religion, politics, fashion... it was a total experience. It was part of our generational identity. This made John's passing even more difficult to accept. Our faith was strong. We still BELIEVED in Rock 'n Roll.

Lennon's importance can't be overstated. Writers more gifted than myself have written about this tragedy with emotion and insight. So I can offer little in the way of new prose on the subject. In personal terms, it was a stunning, yet strangely quiet moment. The end of an era, yes, but more. We had always been sure that rock would regenerate, self-renew, and endure over time. But this woeful crime seemed to herald something we could not imagine - the approach of a 'long goodbye' for Rock 'n Roll.

Remembering John evokes sorrow for his loss as an individual. But there is something more in the mix. I grieve for us. Not only because we are without him, but because we are on the edge of a wasteland... as the late FALCO once sang, "Neo-nothing, post of all." We have witnessed the age in its totality. Elvis, Little Richard, The Who, Hendrix, KISS, The Doors, Lou Reed, and The Ramones have come and gone. Now, in a time of techhnical marvels, we are spoon-fed Britney Spears or Shania Twain. Is it worth having an iPod just to hear NSYNC repeated ad infinitum?

Sing along with me: "Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away..."


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