December 8th is my mother’s birthday. It is the Door’s Jim Morrison’s birthday. It is also the day in 1980 that John Lennon was violently ripped from our lives by a senseless act of a bozo that shall remain nameless in my world.
I was playing acoustic guitar and into folk music when the Beatles came out. I remember seeing their 45 jacket cover on the juke box at Pop Hart’s where we all hung out, had lunch and smoked too many cigarettes.
They were odd looking guys and they weren’t the least bit smooth like all the American pop stars. Their hair was scruffy and even their eyebrows were odd. And I didn’t think much of that first song until someone asked me to play it at a party.
Being a fellow to whom patterns come easy, I had already memorized and become bored with the chord progressions that were used in almost every pop song of the day.
I attempted to apply the patterns I knew to the song and it just didn’t work. They were using chords I didn’t know and in a way that I had never heard before. I was hooked.
Then they showed up on Ed Sullivan and the world changed. I became an absolute devotee of the Beatles. I learned every lick on every song on every album. I read everything I could read about them and seemed to remember it all.
They became my religion and I was faithful til the day they broke up, which left me feeling like the child in a divorce case. Their break up rocked my world.
They led the way for so many years and I so looked forward to every album they did. Not only did I look forward to them, but with Rubber Soul they seemed to be tapping into something incomprehensibly wonderful and new.
I have spent my life trying to write a song, sing a song, and make a recording that is as wonderful to me as most of their body of work.
I was in Atlanta the night Lennon was shot. I had a new album out the next day called Midnight Radio and I remember going into the offices of MCA and them telling me that Lennon was shot and that Billboard had given me a wonderful review.
I have no idea what MCA had planned for me that day. I had to run to the men’s room so that no one would see me weep openly, but after I got myself to gether, I left the building, got in my car and started driving towards my next gig, in Ft Lauderdale, Florida.
I drove straight through and I wept the whole way, while every radio station played Lennon non stop.
“nothing’s gonna change my world…” he sang.
He sure changed mine.