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Thursday, December 9, 2010

John Lennon – 30 years ago today

This is not autograph related. This is one of those – ‘where were you when’ stories. Feel free to comment on the blog – where were you when…
I know I’m a day late. But I didn’t find out about the assassination until the morning after. Thirty years ago I was 17 and in high school. It was a school night and I didn’t watch football. If I wasn’t already asleep, I was reading. So I found out the next morning.
I woke the morning after and turned on the radio. It was a cold dark winter morning and Give Peace a Chance was playing. Almost psychically I knew something was wrong. The radio usually had the DJ’s talking at that time.  At the end of the song the DJ gave a brief recap about Lennon’s death. Then they played Give Peace a Chance again.
I was stunned. Although I loved a lot of Lennon songs particularly, he wasn’t my favorite Beatle.  I was still in the blame game about John and Yoko splitting up the band.
When I was a kid, I went through a phase where music had no meaning to me. I never listened unless it was on someone else’s radio. I didn’t hum or sing along. I didn’t buy or swap records with friends.  I missed the rise of ELO, Kansas, Kiss, and Aerosmith. The middle years of The Who and The Rolling Stones occurred without me noticing.  It was just a hole in my life.
 About 6th grade or so I came out of this music coma and discovered the Beatles.  I still remember how amazed I was that the music was so vibrant. It was 3 dimensional while other music was 2 dimensional.  I slowly accumulated the Beatles albums and with every album I found something so intriguing that I listened none stop.
If you know me from high school or college, you know I have a brass Beatles belt buckle. I wore it all the time for over 10 years.  My dad bought it at a car show and gave it to me. I’m sure it was a random purchase but I loved it. I had a lot of people comment on it over the years. It was a great ice breaker when people first met me. I must have had a dozen offers to buy that belt buckle and maybe another dozen to trade me for it. I still have it.
30 years ago today, I was saddened. The hopes of a Beatles’ reunion were dashed. The hopes of more music from John were destroyed.  It ended so simply because of a crazy man with a gun.
That day, I dressed and really didn’t know how I could tell the world I was sad.  I didn’t know how I could make a statement. I was a nerd and geek. Most people didn’t talk to me at school. I thought about wearing an arm band but then it suddenly occurred to me: my belt buckle. The buckle dad bought me and I never sold. The brass buckle with simply the word ‘Beatles’ engraved on it; the letters were painted black in the simple Beatles font they used on their album covers.  The belt buckled I had already worn for years and everyone knew me by it.
I pulled my belt from the loops and re-threaded it backwards. Instead of left to right, I threaded my belt from right to left so the buckle was upside down. That was my silent nod to the death of Lennon and my cue to the world I was mourning.
My best friend understood right away. My English teach got it right away. But a surprisingly large amount of people told me that I put my belt on the wrong way that day. Typical clueless teenagers. I guess I should have been glad they even noticed me.
It was a silly gesture. Most gestures are silly in the long run. Lennon was just a musician. He knew that better than most. He knew that better than the fans that still idolize him. But it was still a very sad day.


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