Thursday, December 9, 2010


It's curious how you can miss someone you've never met. You can mourn the memory of one who lived and died before your time. Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the day Mark Chapman shot and killed John Lennon. It's difficult to fully comprehend the horror of that day, outside the Dakota building. There is an indescribable injustice attached to it, a kind of tragedy that constricts the chest and twists the gut. For all his wit, his humanity and untouchable creativity, he did not deserve to die as he did.

We love John. We talk about him in the present tense, as if he were one of our old friends. We refer to his words with ease and due familiarity. We sing loudly to his songs. We grin, harmonise and implicitly agree that I shall always take the bottom part. His music has underscored the most compelling of friendships. It continues to be subjected to the most lovingly relentless analysis, I'm sure it forever will be. Even now, I cannot listen to Abbey Road without recalling our promises to cover I Want You (She's So Heavy). I cannot listen to Yellow Submarine without chortling at the thought of us howling, growling and barking to Hey Bulldog. I cannot listen to Rubber Soul without wanting to resume our discussion about Wait. It's been six years now and I'm still waiting.

Every song is a lost moment. Every melody is infused with a personal meaning, every rhythm a universal consequence. I'm so grateful to John for all of it. I know that with him, there is the possibility to fall in love with these songs, over and over again. There is the chance of finding a new interpretation, a dubious method to understand that little band that little better. I live with John in the present tense, both grammatically and temporarily, as I do with any friend I've ever lost. I know I am likely to think of him as he was in A Hard Day's Night, turning left at Greenland or else snorting a bottle of Coke. He lives in 1964, with his cap, tight grey suit and that moderately gleeful façade. He looks just like him, y'know?

In spite of all his presence, his relevance and resonance, it's impossible not to miss him.

I don't know how it's possible not to.

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