I didn't know his true importance until he died, but I knew he was a genius about to enter his second renaissance. I knew his favorite color was "the absence of color" as he once said, meaning he loved all color - since color is simply the reworking of light.
He wasn't my favorite of the four, in fact I thought him rather "unpretty" at first. All the others had a cuteness about them any 13 year old in 1963 would spot and react to, and I did. Tennis racket in hand, I played that 'guitar' and sang "Love, Love Me Do" until the needle broke. We only had 45s and LPs then, and if I had just one of that collection I came to own, nothing could part me from it.
There was a time during the 1970s he confused and maddened me. I wasn't on his level but didn't know that was the reason, even while studying for my future career which allowed me no second of relaxation. I listened to his words, the music he formed, and in frustration would wonder "Why did he say that?" One little thow-off remark and a completely loving world suddenly wanted to crucify him (pun intended). Years later when I had a brain, I realized it was a toss-off thing one says a billion times in ones' life, but he was no ordinary man allowed to make toss-off remarks at his leisure. No, the man who only wanted a little peace started a small war.
There was talk everywhere, even of deportation, so this man of no small street-smarts got out of Dodge.
He left his buddies, his hearth and home, and tried to find meaning and solace in another way of life. But he couldn't make music and it changed him - it pained him. Eventually he returned to the only love he could trust and wrote some of the world's most beautiful songs - love songs, ballads that plead for understanding and acceptance, melodies that forced the listener to really listen this time, here was someone who really experienced a life-change. We knew exactly what he meant. And we were the wealthier for it.
It was 8 a.m. on 12/9/80 when, driving to work, my car radio spat out the incredible news.
He was lost in the previous night, 12/8/1980, lost in that night to five obscene bullets that ripped through us all. His last words: "I've been shot!" A brief look of naked human surprise, then coma. There was nothing heroic about his death. He never regained a second of life. And all we need is love? It was a hard concept to believe when he was gone.
John Lennon had so much more to do. It hurts to think about the music, the words, books, the voice he gave to the voiceless - all left undone. John was one step from an apex in a career so full of the love of life, of peace, of innocence. Anyone who heard "Double Fantasy" knows the utter frustration and aching tears felt in the knowledge that we'll never have a genius of his kind again.
And IMAGINE ........