Thirty Years Gone

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of John Lennon‘s death. On this day in 1980, he was murdered on a New York City sidewalk while returning to his apartment at The Dakota. His wife later scattered his ashes in Central Park at a location that’s come to be known as Strawberry Fields. I visited the memorial briefly in 2008.

I remember hearing about his death on the evening news while eating dinner (it would have had to have been the next day, which probably means my memory is muddled). It was a “What were you doing when you heard that Kennedy was shot?” moment for a new generation. I remember thinking that I’ll never see a Beatles reunion now — and that was about it. I had no emotional attachment to the man, his music, or his message at the time.  I didn’t begin to enjoy or understand his solo works for another couple years. In time, I came to love some of his music and message (though I’ve never cared much for his doodles).

On the anniversary of his death, I’m left wondering about Chapman. The man was charged with second-degree murder and has been at Attica ever since. To date, he’s been denied parole six times. During the murder trial in 1981 he changed his plea to guilty against the wishes of his attorney, who was arguing for “not guilt by reason of insanity”. The judge accepted this plea. In lieu of speaking in his own defense, Chapman read a passage from (one of my favorite books) “Catcher in the Rye”. He was holding a copy of the same book during the murder, annotated with the words: “This is my statement”.

Chapman immortalized Lennon. He cemented Lennon’s post-Beatles legacy for the ages. While the deed itself was horrific, Chapman proved that he was no phony and ensured that Lennon could never become one either…

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” – John Lennon


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