John Lennon was murdered thirty five years ago today.
Decades before killing people became the recreational sport it is today.
He was forty years old.
I was stunned at the time and I still can't believe it when I print those words today.
The man fought for peace. He stood for peace, for Christ sake, and he was gunned down by a low life piece of shit outside the Dakota as he and Yoko were returning home from a recording session.
A recording session that was part of the process of delivering two albums, Double Fantasy, and Milk and Honey.
Double Fantasy was fantastic. Emotional, personal and reflective of where John's head was at at the time.
The man had just spent five years outside the limelight,"baking bread" as he put it. Taking care of his newborn, Sean. He had a new perspective on life and he expressed it in his lyrics.
I remember seeing some footage shot shortly before he died where Lennon is walking and talking to the camera and asking his audience "How are you doing? We survived the seventies and now we are into a new decade." Other things that I can't remember.
What I like about it was that he was recognizing his age and the age of his audience. He was saying we are all older now. Things are different. How are you feeling about that? What are you doing about that?
He was always challenging his audience.
My favorite Christmas song, bar none, is "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" exactly because it challenges you to reflect.
"And so this is Christmas, and what have you done, another year over, a new one just begun". It ain't about unwrapping presents - it is about unwrapping your life. Examining it to appreciate it and to make it better.
That is what everybody should be doing at this time of year.
He also hammered home that everybody deserves a good Christmas. For "the near and the dear ones, the old and the young, for weak and for strong, for rich and the poor ones, for black and for white, for yellow and red ones."
"A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, let's hope it's a good one, without any fear."
Thirty five years later we have nothing but fear.
I watched rock 'n rollers die when I was young and they were young. Foolish people who pushed the limits too far. Hunter S. Thompson said "The only ones who really know where the edge is are the ones who have gone over." Too many of them found that edge. I'm thinking Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison but there were many others as well.
I am 61 now and I have seen so many more of the people who brought magic to my life dying. Too many too fast.
But none of them were gunned down. Assassinated. Incomprehensible.
John Lennon was all about peace and he was entering the most peaceful period of his life. It is horrific that that was snatched away from him.
And from us.
Consider the songs on Double Fantasy. "Just Like Starting Over; Watching The Wheels; Woman; Dear Yoko; Hard Times Are Over."
All about hope and perspective.
"Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)". The song that always makes me cry. I used to sit and listen to that song with tears rolling down my cheeks, thinking about my own sons.
Lennon relocated to new York City because it is such a vibrant and creative place. He liked the possibilities and the energy of the place.
And he felt safe there. He could walk the streets without being mobbed.
He was murdered in the city where he felt safe. Everything about his death was cruel because the vicious way he was murdered was so completely opposite to the way he was feeling.
The son of a bitch who murdered him had asked John to autograph an album earlier in the day.
I am thirty five years down the road and my emotions are still raw when I think of John's death.
That is the impact this man had on so many people.
His contribution to the world was a gift.
His death was a vile waste of hope and promise.