Tag Archives: John Lennon

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.

Sir Paul coming to West Texas

My pal Chip Chandler explores an issue with an obvious answer.

Writing in the Amarillo Globe-News, Chip takes note of an appearance set for June 14 of one of the greatest popular music icons of the past century. Sir Paul McCartney will appear at Lubbock’s United Spirit Arena.

“Why don’t we get big concerts like that?” Chandler asks, knowing the answer fully.


Amarillo doesn’t have a venue nearly suitable for the likes of Sir Paul. You remember the band in which he was a member, yes? The Beatles? The little band that included John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

Well, The Beatles gave it up as a group 40-plus years ago and McCartney has forged a pretty nice career on his own. His albums have been so-so of late, but he still puts on one hell of a concert.

A point of personal privilege: My wife and I saw Sir Paul at the Houston Astrodome one summer night in 1993 where we sang “Hey Jude” among other classics with Paul — along with 55,000 other fans crammed into the one-time Eighth Wonder of the World.

I rather envy Lubbock for having the United Spirit Arena. It was built in the late 1990s and opened with another pretty good act: Elton John, who sold out the place in a matter of minutes. I suspect Paul McCartney will do the same the moment the tickets go on sale.

The Cal Farley Coliseum ain’t nearly big enough, or stylish enough to play host to someone of McCartney’s stature, as Chandler notes.

Sigh. We’ll have to make do with reunion concerts, the occasional country star and over-the-hill pop bands that show up from time to time — although we did catch a pretty rockin’ Doobie Brothers concert at the Coliseum in 1997.

Sir Paul McCartney will get a wild welcome to West Texas when his band starts kickin’ it.

I, too, wish he’d come here.

Beatles tribute causes mind-blowing flashback

Music is ringing in my ears as I write these words.

CBS Television has produced a tribute to The Beatles that for people my age — heck, for anyone old enough at this moment to appreciate music — is to experience a bit of popular culture that cannot be duplicated.

Fifty years ago these four then-young men came across the ocean and changed the world.

No, they didn’t cure deadly diseases. They didn’t bring world peace. They didn’t invent some marvelous technological device. They simply made music.

I’ve been fond of saying for many years that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr had a hand in raising me.

A half-century ago they appeared on our TV screen about the time I was coming of age. I was 14. Their music resonated from the opening chords of “All My Loving,” the first song they sang on The Ed Sullivan Show.

I’ve been in love with the music ever since.

Think about this for a moment. If you watched the tribute show this evening, did you notice all the young people singing along with lyrics that were written and recorded decades before they were born? Our generation and seemingly every generation that has come along since know the words.

Is there another contemporary artist who has had that kind of influence on us?

My heart is still broken at John Lennon’s sudden, tragic and shocking death more than 33 years ago. I mourned George Harrison’s death from cancer more than a dozen years ago. They’re gone, but then again they’re still here.

As Ringo said tonight, whenever he and Paul play together, “John and George are with us.”

That’s as it should be. Their music is timeless.

I’m now going to wait for my life to stop flashing before my eyes.