Backtracking: Remembering John Lennon

It’s been 25 years since John Lennon was murdered in front of his New York City apartment building by a crazed fan. Over time, the media have covered the anniversary with diminishing interest, but this year resonates because of its quarter-century milestone.

I’ve been listening to a pretty good two-CD compilation, “Working Class Hero: The Definitive Lennon,” released by Capitol Records (and compiled, with “definitive” decisiveness, by widow Yoko Ono), and appreciating Lennon’s solo work more than I have in years.

Songs such as “Imagine” and to an extent, “(Just Like) Starting Over,” the song that was a hit at the time Lennon was hit, have over the years lost their mythic weight and become cliches, like an inadequate thimblefull of sentiment too puny to accurately reflect the man’s impact on popular culture, both as a Beatle and on his own.

But songs like “Jealous Guy” from the “Imagine” album, or the stunningly honest “Cold Turkey,” his ode to kicking heroin, jump out of the earphones (in a nod to the iPodization of pop music) as if they’re being played live in your head. They remind me of how good a songwriter and how “real” a human being Lennon was, for all his warts and failings.

It’s good to know much of Lennon’s geacy is intact, a quarter-century down the long and winding road.

Like a lot of people — especially baby boomers like me — I remember starkly what I was doing the night Lennon was killed. I was washing dishes that Monday night with “Monday Night Football” on the TV in the background. I recall hearing the alarm and concern in sportscaster Howard Cosell’s voice. Cosell was strident, obnoxious, loud, but never alarmed. I paid attention to what he was saying and learned that Lennon had been shot.

Although I was in Denver, I sat down in front of the TV and held a vigil as if I was in New York, and in spirit I joined the thousands of people — young and old — who flocked to the Dakota on Central Park West to grieve and wonder at the insanity of the death.

On DenverPost.com, I’ve posted a recording by an old friend of mine, David Weinstein, who unlike me lived in NYC at the time, and recorded a radio report after interviewing mourning fans. The report was aired on KMEL, a station in San Francisco, but he kept a copy of it over the years.

Weinstein now has his own Internet radio show and played his report from 25 years ago on his show. I asked if DenverPost.com could share it with our users and he graciously allowed me to post it.

It’s a moving document even after all these years. Listen to it, and then sit down with some Beatles and Lennon solo songs, slow or upbeat doesn’t matter. And wash yourself off in the shower of music.

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