I vaguely remember the news report about John Lennon being killed. And honestly, even though I was 12, I still didn’t have a clue about what a big deal this was. I was lost in the post-disco/new wave transition and was headlong into the Cars, Blondie and Styx. John Lennon? The Beatles? Didn’t they sing something with “Yeah Yeah Yeah?”
It was only when my brother gave my sister the Hey Jude album some two weeks later for Christmas that I started to comprehend what had happened. He sent her on a scavenger hunt for her present, then cooly placed the needle on the title cut while she was in the other room looking for the present.
Upon hearing Paul sing “Hey Jude, don’t make it bad,” my sister immediately erupted into tears and hugged my brother for what seemed an eternity. Two things crossed my mind:
- These guys were something special.
- My gift of hair barrettes seemed pretty lame in comparison.
Now, 30 years later, I am a scholar of the Beatles music. I search for some magic formula to their songwriting, try to find evidence of a pact with Satan that gave them a talent only few can claim. I wonder why Paul’s voice and a simple harpsichord at the beginning of “For No One” evokes such emotion every time I hear it. I, like others, wonder what are the notes in the introductory chords to “A Hard Day’s Night.” And I wonder how the closing notes to “The End” can be such a fitting finale to a wondrous career.
The dream of a reunion came to an end when He Who Must Not Be Named shot and killed Lennon 30 years ago today. I have mentioned before that Lennon’s solo career, like his bandmates, paled in comparison to their output as a group. Surely he would have made some great music in the 80s and 90s. But I try to picture what a Beatles reunion would have looked and sounded like. Sadly, we will never, ever know.
That doesn’t seem fair. To anyone.