Saturday Single No. 45

Originally posted December 8, 2007

Well, today is the twenty-seventh anniversary of the death of John Lennon, something that’s being noted on more blogs than I care to number this morning.

I wrote not long ago about my memories of that Monday evening and the day that followed, so I won’t repeat that. As a reporter, I look back and nod, seeing the confluence of talent, fame, death at a young age and violence that made the story of Lennon’s death so huge, and I wonder: If the same thing were to happen today, how much more of a media frenzy would we see, and would that frenzy make the central event – the death of a famous and relatively young father, husband and musician – seem larger or smaller?

I don’t know the answer to that with any certainty, but I fear that the central fact – the story of the death – would become smaller than the story of the story. That’s something to chew on some other time, though.

When I take off my reporter costume, the events of December 8, 1980, just become sad. I, like all other Beatles fans, especially those of my generation, lost part of my youth that night. And I think it took some time – more than days, more than weeks, maybe more than months – for that to sink in.

Paul McCartney, confronted in the early morning with the news of Lennon’s death as he emerged, tired, from a recording session, could muster no more than, “It’s a drag, innit?” His seeming callousness brought bitter criticism. But think of this: How would any one of us react when told, at the end of a long workday and in the view of a phalanx of cameras, of the death of our childhood friend and long-time business partner?* Would we have the words? Most likely not. It takes some time for the import of any life-changing event to sink in.*

And when it sank in, over months, Paul did for his friend the best he could. I saw McCartney in concert in St. Paul in 2002, and maybe midway through the show, he said he was going to perform a song he wrote “for my dear friend, John.” There was applause, and McCartney said, “Yeah, let’s hear it for John!” and the Xcel Energy Center erupted with one of the loudest and longest ovations I have ever heard.

And then McCartney took up his guitar and performed the song he wrote for his dear friend, John: “Here Today,” today’s Saturday Single.

Paul McCartney – “Here Today” [1982]

*Looking back, I understand that McCartney had learned earlier of Lennon’s death and the confrontation with reporters served as reminder, not revelation. Still, the point remains: How many of us would have the right words were we confronted with glaring cameras and shouted demands for comment shortly after such horrible news? Note added May 25, 2011.

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 45”

  1. On Maintenance & A Forgotten Date « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] I think, once when pondering the year 1980 and then again on the anniversary of Lennon’s death last year. In any case, I forgot about it yesterday. But it was only for a day, and we’ll let Bob Seger […]

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