WE ALL SHINE ON…
(WHERE WERE YOU WHEN JOHN LENNON WAS SHOT?)
By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them).
Many of us remember where we were that sad day when we first heard that John Lennon had been shot on Dec. 8, 1980. There are certain pivotal moments in our lives, good and bad, which stay with us, and this is one, for it felt like we had lost a close friend or loved one. Music and certain musical figures, I think, have that effect on us and they somehow seem to parallel our own lives. John Lennon, especially and The Beatles had and still have that effect. The Beatles and his music are more popular than ever, even for generations which weren’t even born then. Likewise, the values in which Lennon believed so much, like peace and equality, are still relevant.
As I said, each of us probably remember where we were when we heard the sad news about Lennon, this is mine: I was in Vancouver, Canada. I had gone there because my relationship had fallen apart and I was depressed. One day I decided I had to get away and take a train to-anywhere, leaving behind my record store, “Imagine” in Ottawa, and coffeehouse and alternative newspaper. I couldn’t even listen to Beatles’ music anymore.
But happened to be on that train, which I didn’t know, was a woman whom had worked on my paper. I found out later her father had just died and she was trying to escape from her emotions too. Once we arrived in Vancouver, we decided to share an apartment and even talked of possibly opening a record/book store together there. The only job we could find was delivering advertising flyers door to door. We were driven around in the back of a van, in the pouring Vancouver rain, sometimes with some rough–looking characters, but we each got $25/ day cash. So partly for protection, this lady and I became partners on this job, as well as roommates.
John Lennon had just released his first album, Double Fantasy with Yoko, in 5 years after “retiring” from the music business, in order to raise their son, Sean. And we could hear its first single, “Starting Over”, playing on the van radio, as it was making it up the charts. This lady and I got along fine and we were saving money together, as I said,to possibly open a business together. But I was still hung up on that lady I had been with for 8 years back in Ottawa and who had joined a “religious” cult and had just disappeared. I had thought she might be in Vancouver, as she was close to her brother there. I had heard that Lennon and Yoko might tour for their new album and my “Double Fantasy” was that I might re-connect with my old girlfriend and “Start Over”. But I hadn’t found her in Vancouver and wondered if she might still be back east in Montreal where her mother lived. Ironically, a store location this Vancouver lady and I had seen the first day we arrived, came through to rent. So we had to make a decision. I also liked this lady, but there was growing frustration between us and I didn’t want to threaten our friendship. Anyway, all this tension came together one night, and the lady and I had an argument and she moved out of our place that night. And that “happened” to be on that fateful night of Dec. 8, 1980 on which John Lennon was shot and around the same time 11pm. Eastern, so I knew nothing about what had occurred with John Lennon.
The next day, though, we both had to do still the same job together. When I arrived at work, there was lots of Beatles’ music especially, on the radio and I wondered why, as I still hadn’t heard what had happened yet. Then someone said, “John Lennon was shot last night.” I was, of course, in shock. This girl knew how important Lennon had been to me. Lennon had been my long-time hero, why I had come to Canada, set up my record store,” Imagine”, and he had gotten me into music. Even though there was still tension between us, she kindly came over to console me. She asked who had done it. I didn’t care, I said. But for the 1st time right then, we heard the radio say the assassin’s name. It was the same as hers! Her face turned white. We had said in our argument the night before, with all the tension,that we had to separate, for we were “killing” each other. This woman also had the same birth date as me, although she was younger. As I said, I felt, with Lennon, I had lost a personal friend and close loved one. Of course, millions of others around the world would also feel that too, but I didn’t even really realize that then. Everyone was talking about it. But I just wanted to be alone. I debated whether or not to work that day, but decided it was better to keep busy.
Later at Christmas, this lady whom I was no longer living with, but who remained a friend, came to visit our old apartment and I made her turkey dinner. Friends back in Ottawa, were writing me that the guy whom I had just impulsively left to watch my store back there, was ruining my business and was even selling off my Beatles’ Collection for high prices after Lennon’s death. I decided to return to Ottawa and try to salvage my store and life. When I left Vancouver, I asked this lady if there was anything I could give her for her kindness and she asked for Lennon’s POB album, my favorite of his solo albums, and so I did.
After being back in Ottawa a few months and restoring my store (and what was left of my Beatles’ collection), one day, I heard George Harrison’s new tribute song to John, “ALL Those Years Ago” on the radio. Thinking of my lady roommate friend back in Vancouver I decided to buy the single and I mailed it to her that day to her address there. A few hours later, after I went to work that very same day, but who walks into my store, but my lady friend, whom I thought was still in Vancouver? She had just gotten a ride back to Ottawa that day. She would later become a filmmaker. But this series of “coincidences” is what I will always associate with that fateful day.
A month before Lennon had been shot, I had read an interview in Playboy magazine with John Lennon and upon putting it down, had strangely told my Vancouver lady friend, ”Lennon has told me everything he can”. He had said then: ”There’s nothing to be scared of, It’s all an illusion”.
At the end of that Playboy interview, ironically, John Lennon had said it all:
”Well, you make your own dream. That’s the Beatles’ story, isn’t it. Don’t expect John Lennon or Yoko Ono or Bob Dylan or Jesus Christ to come and do it for you. They can leave signposts and little instructions in various books that are now called holy and worshipped for the cover of the book and not for what it says. People can’t provide it for you. You can wake you up. I can’t cure you. You can cure you. It’s our fear of the unknown. The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that-it’s all an illusion. Accept that it’s unknown and its plain sailing. Everything is unknown-then you’re ahead of the game. That’s what it is, right?” (1) John Lennon and Yoko Ono interview, c. Playboy Magazine, Jan. 1981.
I’m sure all of us have some personal memory associated with where we were and with whom we were, when we first heard the news about Lennon. What are your memories?
What did his music and life story mean to you? We should all share in our common love-for that was his main message, I think.
WE ALL SHINE ON…LIKE THE MOON, THE STARS, AND THE SUN.
John Lennon doing reggae song, “Borrowed Time”, from his last album, Milk & Honey:
Hear below this very revealing interview with James Taylor on what John Lennon was really like, the costs of fame, even meeting his killer 24 hours before, Yoko, etc., and then he performs “In My Life”: