John Lennon would have been 70 today.
People of my parents’ generation say they remember where they were when they heard JFK had been killed. I remember where I was when I heard that John Lennon had been killed.
I was, and I am, a big Beatles fan. I was in elementary school in 1980, but I knew their early history and background, that they were from Liverpool in northern England, that they’d broken themselves in in Hamburg, that Stu Sutcliffe the original bass player was a brilliant artist who’d died after having his head kicked in in a fight, and that he was John Lennon’s best friend.
My father had an original “Meet the Beatles” LP. The cardboard cover was worn down and the seams were scotch taped. The vinyl was heavier than the LP discs from the other Beatles records I had, and it was deeply scratched, but it played through the pops and surface noises without skipping so long as the record player’s needle wasn’t dull.
The music in my family’s house was Clancy Brothers, various Motown and Bee Gees. My friends listened to AC/DC. This is going to sound weird, because The Beatles and The Beatles’ music is everywhere, but I remember how alien “Meet the Beatles” sounded when I listened to it then.
Perhaps only people who listen really closely to music and who form strong attachments to certain songs and records as I know I do will understand this, but listening to “Meet the Beatles” still sends the kind of chills down my spine that listening to Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” does or to The Replacements’ “Let it Be” does. “Meet the Beatles” broke with everything I had ever heard before it. It seemed to me to have captured a time and a place completely and utterly.
I still have “Meet the Beatles” in a box somewhere in the house.
On the morning of December 9, 1980 I was standing in the kitchen of my parents’ house in Braintree, Massachusetts. It was cold outside and inside because my parents always seemed to keep the heat down, I was bundled up, and I was wearing a backpack. I was getting ready to go to school. My mother had the radio on, and before I went out the door to walk the quarter mile up Washington Street to Monatiquot Elementary I heard the news that John Lennon had been killed.
Today’s daily photo is the sign at SPACE in Evanston, Illinois. It’s a repeat from a picture posted this past spring, but last night and this morning I thought it was the one to use for today’s picture.