Wow. It’s been 30 years since I woke up on a cold morning in my bed, blinking at the stereo across the room as I heard the news that John Lennon had died. I was in eighth grade, in the full early-adolescent Beatles obsession that seems to overtake 90% of the kids I know, and it was like losing a trusted confidant. I knew John Lennon didn’t really know me, specifically, but he understood me, the lost soul, and I loved him for that. And just as I realized it, he was gone.
Now, Rolling Stone is releasing an interview that was done just three days before he died, and which has sat on untranscribed tapes in the back of a journalist’s closet since then. The whole thing will be available on newsstands this Friday, but excerpts and audio are on RollingStone.com right now.
Now that I’m the age Lennon was when he died, do his words have a different meaning? See for yourself.
- I never claimed to have the answers. I only put out songs and answer questions as honestly as I can. No more, no less. I cannot live up to other people’s expectations of me, because they’re illusionary. And the people that are wanting more than I am ... have to grow up too. I cannot be a punk in Hamburg or Liverpool, because I am older now. I see the world through different eyes.
- When I was younger, I used to think that the world was doing it to me, and the world owed me something ... when you’re a teenybopper, that’s what you think. I’m 40 now, I don’t think that anymore, because I found out it doesn’t f---ing work. The thing goes on anyway ... I am responsible for that as well as them. I’m part of them, there’s no separation, we’re all one.
- I was never really a street kid or a tough guy. I was a suburban kid imitating the rockers. It was a big part of my life, to look tough ... walking in complete fear with the toughest looking little face you ever saw.
In the background of these audio clips, you can hear Yoko talking to Sean, and Lennon is full of praise and love for his wife for reassuring him that it’s okay to drop the tough-guy act. He praises feminism.
Ono, long unfairly blamed for the breakup of The Beatles, also writes an intensely personal essay about her time with Lennon.
Listening to Lennon’s voice through my computer speakers on another cold day a lifetime later, I still feel understood and reassured. How can that be?
What are your Lennon memories?