I was sitting in the back seat of my father’s car. It was a 1978 Grand Le Mans with an AM/FM radio and speakers in the back. The radio announcer’s voice was shaky and sad when he said that John Lennon was dead, even though it was the next day and my dad was driving me to school. Then the voice stopped and they played “Watching the Wheels,” which sounded even sadder.
Yes, I am a Beatles fan. Hey, I never said I was cool.
My dad gave me a cassette tape of Beatles songs when I was six, which I listened to all the time. I don’t know why he had it—my dad’s more of a fifties guy, if anything—but he gave it to me and I never gave it back. When I was seven, I got a copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for my birthday, and by the time I was ten, I had every studio album the band recorded.
I still know the lyrics to all of them off by heart.
In Popular Music in Theory, Keith Negus writes: “(T)here is perhaps a children’s history of The Beatles at the same time as the world-wise counter-culture version.” There absolutely is. The Beatles were as much a part of the dream world of my childhood as The Narnia Chronicles or The Cat in the Hat. They were my best friends and my first boyfriends, the family I wished that I had instead of the one that I got. They were the place I would go when I put on my Radio Shack headphones and made the real world go away. They made me feel happy. They still do.
So, when the radio announcer said that John Lennon was dead I felt shaky and sad too. Someone had murdered one of my friends.
A year later, I wrote a poem about it. Egged on by my mother, I sent the poem to the city paper, which published it in the Sunday children’s section underneath a picture of Lennon. It was a silly little poem, the kind a ten-year old writes when she is trying to be wise, but still, I was terribly proud. I had paid public tribute to my friend, and a lot of other people's as well.
So, this is the poem.
He was a loving, caring person,
He was fun to be with too,
This bright and friendly man,
Who so many people knew.
But he was still a human being,
Not some kind of super-man,
Yet he took heart-breaking tortures,
That not many people can.
But one day this went too far,
And the moment we had to dread,
Had finally come upon us,
He was Officially Pronounced Dead.
A year after this happened,
People are still in a trance,
So please do us a favour,
And Give Peace a Chance.
Hey, I was ten. And I never said I was cool.