Diablog: John Lennon at 65

You're a little quiet today.

This day of the year always does it to me.

What happened?

On the morning of December 8th, 1980, 25 years ago today, I got a phone call offering me my first job on an electronics magazine. I'd been seeking an edit job for more than a year. The joy and relief didn’t last long. That night, standing on the subway platform in Times Square, I saw the news of John Lennon’s murder on the front page of someone’s New York Post.

He was always more than a rock star to you, wasn't he?

My first visceral connection with music came when my older sisters cranked "She Loves You" in the basement. They were Beatle fans. In the DVD boxed set, Paul explains that the song's subtle shift in POV -- from "I love you" to "she loves you" -- was a songwriting breakthrough. But it was the sound of John adorned by Liverpudlian vocal harmonies that captured me forever. His voice was literally a cutting-edge instrument. Hearing it for the first time was like a wake-up call, an invitation into a world of excitement and mystery. Still rivets me every time. The fact that he had my dad's nose, in retrospect, must have meant something too. John would be 65 today. How I wish I'd been allowed to watch that face grow old, hear that voice give the occasional state-of-the-John report.

So the voice led you to where you are now.

Yup. I grow up addicted to music. In high school I discover that I can write. I write about music for my college newspaper. I try to take my B.A. in English into the editorial world and spend more than a year in the wilderness, doing typesetting and proofreading jobs, writing record reviews for $5 each, waiting for my big chance to edit and write for a living. Someone at Video Magazine pulls my resume off a stack, interviews me, and notes that I know a thing or two about my stereo system, but not enough to mark me as a nut. I get the job. At virtually the same moment the voice that jump-started my career is silenced forever and a chasm opens up between my past and my future. Every year I relive that moment.

And you wore John Lennon glasses as a kid. You were a peculiar kid.

I did. I was. I still am.

But they're silver. John's were gold.

I wanted to be different. Just a little different. I thought John would have wanted it that way.

Mark Fleischmann is the author of the annually updated book Practical Home Theater. For links to the latest edition, visit www.quietriverpress.com.

Steven Payette's picture

Hello Mark,I remember my cousin, who is 8 years older than me , coming to live with us when I was about 8. I was introduced to the world of pop culture music at a very early age. I went on to start playing guitar at age 10. The beatles were a great part of growing up.Thank you for the rememberance.

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