I hardly, if at all, knew who John Lennon was until the day he died. It’s not that music didn’t fill our home; quite the contrary. It just wasn’t The Beatles. For example, in Kindergarten, when the teacher told us we could bring a Christmas album to school, my mother sent me with Robert Goulet. I’ve written before about how this scarred me. (Hi, Mom.) Other kids brought Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse albums, but I brought Goulet’s It Came Upon the Midnight Clear or something equally dismal.
Goulet, people. Goulet — whose last name my father said was the French version of my maiden name. (Hello, Dad, this did no make it any better.) The kids were seriously mad at me for making them listen to that stuff.
I, however, prevailed, and became better for the music of my Silent Generation parents, Baby Boomer sisters and my brother, my lone Gen X family comrade. I enjoyed a healthy diet of Hank Williams, Sr., Lefty Frizzell, The Carpenters, Dottie Rambo, John Denver and Johnny Paycheck. Wow! I’m sure this must explain, on some level, my long affection for the melody-challenged, blue-collar, street Jersey lyricist known as Bruce Springsteen, but that’s a story for another day. I was writing about my singular thought on what would have been the 70th birthday of John Lennon.
So, I remember the day Lennon died quite well. My much more pop-cultured friend, Linda, who played a mean clarinet in the Gilmer Junior High Band (Go Buckeyes!), told me the sad news on the school bus. It just so happened I’d carried a lemon to school that day. I have no idea why. We never had lemons around the house and I didn’t even like them. But, fate would have it that I would be holding a lemon on the school bus the very day Linda told me John Lennon had been murdered. Reaching for irony, I found tremendous relevance in this. Lemon – Lennon. Ridiculous, I know, but memorable. Ahhhh, adolescence.
Now, nearly 30 years later, we remember Lennon on what would have been his 70th birthday, and honestly I am possessed by one thought:
Why do I keep having to hear about John Lennon?
And, it hasn’t even started, even though it’s never stopped. And, by the way, how the heck did he get so old? (That’s two thoughts; arrest me.) RIP, his music was brilliant and Yoko Ono and Julian, nobody should have to bear that kind of tragedy, but on December 8, we’re going to have to relive this all over again on the 30th anniversary of his death.
And, as a Gen Xer, who will never be able to relate to their fame or the affection people had for them or their supposed brilliance, I’m just tired of hearing about The Beatles. It doesn’t mean I’m cynical. It just means I’m tired of hearing about The Beatles. Especially John who is not 70 today, but forever 39 – younger than I am now, which makes me feel like I am getting old. Sort of. As long as Boomers are still celebrating Lennon’s birthday, I’m basquing in perpetual youth.
Why do Gen Xers think this station is so bad? We could be celebrating Michael Jackson’s 70th birthday, and thankfully, Springsteen is still with us. And another thing, have you read the words to Eleanor Rigby lately? Lennon is said to have written most of this song. He left us with something that remains as true today as it was the day he wrote it: Ahh, look at all the lonely people; Where do they all come from?
Linda and I played this on our clarinets in the junior high band, during which time I was possessed by one single thought:
Why can’t we play the music of Generation X?
(Maybe some YMCA or something by Air Supply.) Ha.
RIP John Lennon. I agree with what your son, Julian said today in Liverpool. It’s time for mourning The Beatles to end.