As I stumble across various news stories flashing back to tonight 30 years ago, the night John Lennon was shot and killed by a psycho fan in front of his apartment in New York, I try to imagine what he would be doing if he had lived.
In December, 1980 he had new music out for the first time in five years, he was uncharacteristically upbeat in interviews and photographs that week and seemed to be looking optimistically to a happy future. The first single from his new album was “Just Like Starting Over,” certainly an indication of personal rebirth.
He had turned 40 just two months before that fateful night so he would be 70 years old now. Maybe he would still be recording and touring, like the two surviving Beatles Paul and Ringo. Perhaps he would have done more collaborations with other artists, as he did with Ringo, Elton John and David Bowie in the post-Beatles 1970s. His song themes might still have been about love and peace, especially after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in his adopted home town. Think about that for a second. He lived in Manhattan and the smoke from the World Trade Center collapse would have drifted from ‘ground zero’ to the Dakota Apartments at the edge of Central Park. That would be irresistible inspiration for a socially-conscious songwriter.
Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, still lives in that apartment. She is 77 years old now and their son Sean, who sadly also witnessed the murder, is now 35 years old. Ono continues to do charity and community work in John’s name, including funding the Strawberry Fields memorial near their apartment and releasing art, music and memorabilia as fund-raising for various causes including the well-known Autism Speaks organization.
At times during John Lennon’s life, I thought some of his ‘peace’ activities seemed phony, maybe just hyping a pretentious image. But stories and interviews I’ve seen more recently lead me to believe his intentions were sincere, especially around the time of his career rebirth.
Regardless of intention, there is something appealing and timeless about the lyrics of his song “Imagine.”
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imaging all the people
Living life in peace