Tag Archives: John Lennon

Happy Trails, Part 91

This segment of the “Happy Trails” series perhaps offers you a clue as to what it’s all about. I’ll tell you anyway. I get asked occasionally about retirement and if we have any “bucket list” destinations we want to see before we, um, kick it.

I’ll speak only for myself on this one, because of the two of us — that would be wife and me — I am the one who is most interested in doing a Beatles tour of England.

I know a couple in Amarillo who have done this kind of tour. Mike and Kathy Haynes took a tour of England years ago to visit the places where four young men came of age, got their musical start and eventually changed popular culture … forever and ever!

You know their names: John, Paul, Ringo and George (from left to right in the picture).

When I get asked the bucket list question, I usually say something like going to Australia, which has fascinated me since I was a little boy and my Dad pondered whether to pursue a career opportunity Down Under.

I keep forgetting to mention a tour of The Beatles’ home country! What is the matter with me?

A New York Times article, which one of my sons posted on Twitter — noting that “my dad would love this” — tells how Liz and Ricky Robbins did what my friends Mike and Kathy did.

Read the NY Times piece here.

Hey, I still mourn the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison. I am proud that the Queen knighted Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Richard (Ringo Starr) Starkey.

I still know most of the words to most of the songs The Beatles recorded. Yes, even some of the more obscure tunes. I do quite well answering Beatles questions on “Jeopardy!”

I actually got caught up in that nonsense about Paul being “dead” in 1969. However, I my wife and I were able to see a very much alive Sir Paul perform in The Astrodome in 1993 and we saw Ringo’s “All-Starr Band” show at the Cal Farley Coliseum in Amarillo some years after that.

One more thing: The very first rock ‘n roll concert I ever attended was in August 1965, in my hometown of Portland, Ore., happened to be The Beatles. Mom scored two front-row-center seats for my sister and me.

There you have it. This is my ultimate “bucket list” destination in retirement. I have no worries that I’ll outlive worldwide interest in The Beatles.

I just need to get there. Sooner, rather than later. As I’ve noted many times over the years: Those four lads helped raise me.

Ladies and gentlemen, Sir Ringo, er … Richard

This is some problem to encounter from this day forward.

How does one refer to Ringo Starr, who’s now a knight? You see, The Beatles’ drummer used his real name, Richard Starkey, to receive his knighthood from the British crown.

But to those of us who came of age when Ringo and his bandmates — John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney — were blazing new popular culture trails, he was just Ringo. The goofy Beatle. The shortest one of the four of them. The guy who was cute in a homely sort of way; I mean, the girls seemed to scream more loudly for Ringo than for the other lads. Do I remember that correctly?

Sir Paul McCartney was knighted in 1997. The honor didn’t come to John and George, who died in 1980 and 2001, respectively. To my knowledge, the Brits don’t bestow knighthoods posthumously — which I consider to be a shame.

Still, Sir Ringo, I mean, Sir Richard, has joined Sir Paul among the United Kingdom’s most exalted citizens.

OK, I am not one of Her Majesty the Queen’s subjects. Still, to me Sir Richard will always be just plain Ringo.

What? Ringo turns Double-7?

Ringo Starr has become a metaphor for my old age.

Oh, where has the time gone? You know who this guy is, right? He came into the world with the name Richard Starkey. He grew up in Liverpool, England. He played the drums a bit. Then he joined this band that had just fired its original drummer. They needed someone new to play the sticks for them.

John, Paul and George hired Ringo and, well, as they say: the rest is history.

He was the oldest of his new bandmates by just a few months; he was born July 7, 1940, just ahead of John Lennon, who was born Oct. 9 of that year.

Ringo’s musical imprint — along with that of John, George Harrison and Paul McCartney — became the signature not just for my generation, but for others that have come along since then.

But … not for everyone.

A couple of years ago, when Ringo was turning 75 — which is one of those landmark birthdays — I approached a colleague of mine at the business where I worked part time. I mentioned to her — suffice to say she is a good bit younger than yours truly, let alone Ringo — that it was Ringo’s 75th birthday. Isn’t that cool?

She gave me a blank stare and, as the Good Lord is my solemn witness, she said: Who’s Ringo Starr?

I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the ground. I also am pretty certain that my eyes damn near flew out of my head. How in the name of all that is holy and sacred does this young woman not know anything about Ringo Starr, one-fourth of the band that shaped her parents’ generation?

“Why, I never,” I answered my friend. “Don’t you know that this guy helped raise me?” And he did, too — right along with those three other guys.

If only Ringo would see this blog and know that in that one fleeting instant I had his back. The old drummer is about to turn 77. I hope my former colleague has learned just a little something about this living legend.

She just has to ask her parents.

I’d rather listen to Lennon’s music tonight


I’m proud of myself.

I had a chance tonight to watch three Democrats debate each other over which of them should be their party’s presidential nominee.

Instead, I turned away. I’m watching an American Movie Classics musical tribute to someone who means more to me at this moment than any presidential candidate in either party.

I’ll get back to you folks in a few days. I promise.

The late John Lennon would have turned 75 on Oct. 9. AMC aired a special tonight with some damn good musicians playing many of the songs John made famous — as a solo artist and when he played in that pretty good rock band, The Beatles.

I’ll read about the Democrats’ debate in the morning. Tonight, I’m chillin’ out to some music from a guy who helped raise me.

I still miss him.

Rest in peace, John.


A loving tribute from a son to his mother

Gosh, I don’t have much to say about this, except to ask you to spend about 3 minutes watching and listening.

Julian Lennon’s mother wasn’t nearly as famous as his father.

But the only child of John and Cynthia Lennon has written and sung this lovely tribute to his “mum,” who died today at the age of 75.



Sir Paul … who?

Some things simply defy description. They tax one’s ability to reason things out.

Take the case of an “unknown artist” who made a record with Kanye West, the hip-hop star, husband of Kim Kardashian and the guy who burst onto the national scene a few years ago when he sought to upstage Taylor Swift the moment she won a Grammy award.


Kanye West released a song with a guy named Paul McCartney, who’s been a pretty good singer/musician/songwriter over, oh, about the past 50 years.

West’s fans took to Twitter to proclaim that they’d never heard of McCartney, who at one time was one-fourth of the world’s greatest rock and roll band, The Beatles. He teamed with another pretty good musician, the late John Lennon, to write music that defined a generation … maybe two or three generations.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing. West’s fans are, well, pretty young. They might not expose themselves to music beyond the kind of music that West produces. Perhaps they haven’t heard about The Beatles from, let’s see, their parents or grandparents.

Or perhaps this is all a big joke, a put-on, kind of like those “Paul is dead” rumors that enveloped the planet back in 1969.

Well, whatever. I’m certain Sir Paul isn’t terribly worried about his standing in the world of music entertainment. Indeed, those unknowing Kanye West fans are aware now of Sir Paul’s influence.


For those who still might not know who Paul McCartney is, consider this: Paul put on a concert about five years ago in Red Square, in Moscow. His encore song was “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” which he recorded in 1968 with The Beatles. As Paul lit into the rocking number, teenagers in the Red Square crowd were singing the song with Paul — in English, knowing every word of a tune recorded decades before any of them were born.

Kanye West no doubt hopes his songs will have that kind of lasting power.


Forgiveness for Lennon's killer? Oh, boy

Mark David Chapman wants what from Yoko Ono?

He wants the wife of the man he murdered 34 years ago to forgive him?


This one boggles my mind.

Chapman received a 20-years-to-life prison sentence for shooting music legend John Lennon in the back. He’s been denied parole several times in the years since then. John’s widow has argued with the New York state parole board against setting her husband’s killer free.

Now the man who put several generations of music lovers — not to mention those of us who loved The Beatles — into perpetual mourning wants Yoko Ono’s forgiveness.

How would I feel if such a tragedy had occurred in my life? Would I be able to forgive the individual who did such a terrible deed to someone I love?

I do not believe I could.

Then again, it is impossible to thrust oneself into another’s conscience when pondering such a request.

Therefore, I won’t offer any advice to Yoko Ono on how she should respond to this request from the man who murdered her husband.

But if it were me …


John Lennon helped raise a generation

Allow me this admission: I was one of relatively few Americans who did not hear the tragic news on this day 34 years ago from Howard Cosell during a “Monday Night Football” telecast.

Nope, I heard it on NBC News, which cut into one of its programs to tell me that John Lennon had been shot to death outside his New York apartment.

How does one describe the feeling of hearing such news? I cannot recall precisely how I felt. It might be that shock set in and with it a form of amnesia.

Time magazine’s cover the next week had the headline “When the Music Died.” And for me, it truly did die that night in front of the Dakota Building, where John lived with his wife, Yoko, and their young son, Sean.

I’ve said it many times over many years to many people: John Lennon and the fellows with whom he played some damn good music, The Beatles, helped raise me. Indeed, music was one of the defining characteristics of the period when millions of us came of age. It was in the 1960s. OK, maybe it was music and war — two curiously juxtaposed features of a time of profound change in this country.

John’s music will stand forever, as will the music he made with Paul, George and Ringo. It was difficult back then to explain this phenomenon to our parents. My own mother and father didn’t quite get it, although Mom later would appreciate The Beatles’ music performed by, say, a symphonic orchestra. Dad? He was a “big band” guy all the way.

The really cool and enduring part of that era’s music — exemplified by The Beatles — is that it’s easier now to explain to the generations that have come along in the years since that time. My own sons get it. It just knocks me out to see teenagers traipsing around Amarillo wearing shirts with “The Beatles” emblazoned on them, or with pictures of The Boys.

All of that — not to mention his active commitment to world peace — must be John Lennon’s enduring legacy to this very day.

I still miss him.




Their music lives forever

A young friend and colleague has just provided me with one more Grade A example of how I know that The Beatles’ music will live forever.

His name is Travis. He’s 23 years of age and works as a service writer at the Toyota dealership where we work. This morning he walked up to me and started a conversation this way:

“Don’t hit me when I tell you this,” he said, “but I have just listened to The Beatles for the very first time. Man … they are great! I think it changed my life.”

I shook Travis’s hand and told him how proud I am of him.

He then told me his dad has a collection of vinyl records, including some Beatles classics. Travis said he listened recently to “The Beatles,” aka “The White Album.” He fell in love with the music.

“I’m now mourning the death of John Lennon,” he said, “and that happened almost 34 years ago.” Yes, I reminded him that the anniversary of John’s murder is coming up. “Oh, I know,” he said.

He ticked off a few of his favorite hits. “Come Together,” “Revolution,” “Let it Be.” He saved special praise for “Hey Jude,” which he said he couldn’t stop singing to himself this morning. He pointed to Judy, one of our cashiers, and said, “I see Judy over there and think of ‘Hey Jude.'”

I then reminded him that “Hey Jude,” in my view, is the greatest song ever performed in the history of recorded music. You know what? I think Travis agrees with me.

What does all this mean in the grander scheme of life? Only that the music produced by history’s greatest rock ‘n roll band stands the test of time. I reminded Travis that he was born 21 years after The Beatles broke up.

I shall now thank Travis’s father for introducing his young son to the music of four young men who — I reminded Travis — helped raise me. I’m sure many others my age and perhaps those even younger can make the same claim.


This killer must never walk free

Mark David Chapman has been denied parole yet again.

For the life of me, some elements of the criminal justice system seem unsolvable. Such as why someone like this ever would be considered for parole.

Chapman shot John Lennon to death on Dec. 8, 1980. As the parole hearing today noted, the officers interviewing Chapman denied him parole because “the victim,” Lennon, showed kindness to his killer before the bullet started flying that night in New York City.


The former Beatle had signed Chapman’s copy of Lennon’s new album, chatted briefly with him, boarded his limo and then returned later in the evening — to meet his bloody death at Chapman’s hand.

“This victim had displayed kindness to you earlier in the day, and your actions have devastated a family and those who loved the victim,” the parole board wrote. Among those who “loved” John Lennon was, well, me and millions of others around the world.

Chapman is among the world’s most notorious murderers who go through this parole ritual every couple of years, only to be denied. Two other stand out:

* Sirhan Sirhan, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s killer, gets the same treatment. As he should. Sirhan’s gunning down of RFK, it’s been argued, changed the course of political history in this country as Kennedy died while campaigning in June 1968 for the presidency of the United States.

* Charles Manson, who ordered the murders of actress Sharon Tate and several others in 1969, is a raving bleeping lunatic. If you’ve ever listened to this man talk — today — about what happened 45 years ago, then you understand that he needs to stay locked up forever.

Chapman has exhibited all the signs of a sociopath, someone with no conscience. OK, so John Lennon wasn’t a world leader. He was a musician and a songwriter whose work still stands as an anthem for several generations of people all around the world.

Good night, Mark David Chapman. May you rot in that cell.