Truth be told I was barely eight months old when John Lennon was assassinated. Therefore I have no personal connection to his life aside from that event. Although Lennon was an enormous presence in New York City during the years my mother was growing up there,she was living in Brooklyn at the time and had no such association with him in her life either. Surprisingly,the only person in my immediate family who did have a personal connection to John Lennon at all would’ve been the one most interest in such a thing occurring in his life: my very own father. This story has been recounted to me through random tidbits. I may not actually be able to tell this story completely accurately. But between withholding names for privacy purposes and the distance in time with which these stories were told to me? Its so worthwhile a tale to tale about John Lennon the best thing is just to give it a try regardless.
It was during Christmas break while my father was a collage student that this event occurred. He and another friend had traveled to New York for a little holiday vacation. This friend had managed to procure tickets for the David Frost Show filming on one of those days. Though my father was apparently only marginally interested,he decided to take up his friends offer and go anyway. As it is today there would be lines of people around the block outside the theater to see any talk show in NYC. Of course it was also a dank,rainy afternoon when my father and his friend queued up for David Frost and that wasn’t encouraging either. While their scuttlebutt within the long queue there began to be talk that John Lennon and Yoko Ono would be appearing on Frost’s show that day. Now my father suddenly became concerned that if the theater filled up that he would not get a change to see Lennon.
My father had “been” John Lennon in a mock Beatle group performing in his cellar as a preteen and had followed Lennon and the Beatles career with great vigor-as did many of his generation. Luckily my father and his friend got into the theater where they found John combing Yoko’s long hair before the show began,and later during commercial breaks as well. John and Yoko were there with the Elephants Memory Band,discussing political issues of the Nixon era with various activists with whom they were associated-occasionally performing songs from their Sometime In New York City such as “John Sinclair” and “Woman Is The N*gger Of The World”. While at one point David Frost had to abruptly go to a commercial break when Lennon got into a very heated yelling match with an apparently reactionary conservative audience member,this was all part of the hugely exciting experience that seemed to be an important point of reference in my father’s life and one he’ll never forget.
When discussing this article with my father,he asked me why I felt it was important to write about a subject without any first hand perspective? The answer is that no one can have a first hand perspective with everyone and everything they admire. Some of these things and people are going to be gone or dead-some for long periods of time in fact. Writing about an event from a second hand perspective,especially as it pertains to ones own family,not only helps you better understand the bonds that tie you to said family member but for generational reasons as well. I cannot honestly say that there was anyone who artistically and philosophically moved my generation on quite the same level as John Lennon did my father’s. The closest I could say for me to that would be Janelle Monae,whom I was lucky enough to see live in concert. Still she still doesn’t come close to holding the same cultural significance Lennon did,though perhaps she should. So just who will be the John Lennon for the new generation? Who will be able to blend the personal,creative and political atmosphere of their environments and bring the world in as their audience? And when men of my generation enter late middle age,will they have stories like this to tell their children?