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Blogcritics on John Lennon

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25 years ago, on the night of Dec. 8, 1980, John Lennon, 40, returned home to his apartment building from the midtown Manhattan recording studio Hit Factory at 10:50 p.m. with wife Yoko Ono. Mark David Chapman’s voice called out, “Mr. Lennon!” He pointed a handgun at a generation’s avatar of peace and shot him four times. Lennon’s last words were, “I’m shot.”

Though a powerful and incisive personality, an extraordinary singer/songwriter, and the soul of the greatest band in rock ‘n’ roll history, John Lennon, especially in martyred death, is also something of a palimpsest upon which we write our own tales of cultural meaning, longing, and regret, and bandy about his legacy for purposes of enlightenment, edification and naked profit.

We have been trying to come to terms with Lennon’s work, image and life since our inception:

“Imagine” the Dumbest Protest Song Ever
I once described “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye as the dumbest protest song ever. But perhaps I spoke too soon, for there’s certainly a lot of competition for such a title. Perhaps “Imagine” by John…
Posted to Music by Al Barger on December 9, 2005 12:10 PM

Lennon: It Was 25 Years Ago
He lived only ten blocks away from me. I was sure I’d run into him sometime, perhaps in Central Park.
Posted to Music by Adam Ash on December 9, 2005 06:11 AM

Remembering John Lennon’s Death
At this point, I swear I hate that “Imagine” song worse than Huck Finn hated church on Sunday morning, and for similar reasons. Makes me want to shoot somebody myself.
Posted to Culture by Al Barger on December 8, 2005 08:04 PM

Remembering Lennon and Dancing on Dec. 8
We remember John Lennon in our individual ways. I do it through dance.
Posted to Music by Natalie Davis on December 8, 2005 10:12 AM

Music Playlist: John Lennon Covers
Play It with Rhapsody 25 Years ago today Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon outside the Dakota apartment building in New York City where he…
Posted to Music by Robert Burke on December 8, 2005 08:41 AM

John and Yoko Write Back
In 1972 when I was 12 years old, I wrote a letter to Yoko Ono, spoofing her music with a drawing of sheet “music to wilt cement by” and, a few weeks later, to my utter amazement, I received this…
Posted to Music by Barry Stoller on December 8, 2005 08:19 AM

John Lennon Remembered
“They shake their heads and look at me as if I’ve lost my mind, I tell them there’s no hurry…”
Posted to Music by GoHah on December 6, 2005 06:11 AM

John Lennon Meets Jerry Garcia
The night Lennon and Garcia met in New York City
Posted to Music by Justin Kreutzmann on December 1, 2005 08:53 AM

Twenty-Five Years Later: Thinking About John Lennon
He was the right man in the right time, and his death marked the end of that time.
Posted to Music by gypsyman on November 30, 2005 05:42 AM

DVD Review: The Dick Cavett Show – John & Yoko Collection
A three-episode collection that provides insight into John Lennon and Yoko Ono and their role and life in the early 1970s.
Posted to Video by Tim Gebhart on November 21, 2005 10:07 AM

Lennon Solo Catalogue to be Released Online and The Daily Music and Tech News
John Lennon catalogue to be sold online. Lennon’s greatest hits compilation Working Class Hero was made available on the web this week with the rest of his collection following on December 6th. The music will be available through…
Posted to Music by Katharine Donelson on November 9, 2005 05:24 PM

Greatest Magazine Covers Announced
The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) announced its 40 greatest magazine covers of the last 40 years yesterday, with Rolling Stone’s January 22, 1981 cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono given top honors. In the Annie Liebovitz…
Posted to Books by Eric Olsen on October 18, 2005 07:46 AM

John Lennon at 65
October 9, 1940 is John Lennon’s birthday which means he would be turning 65 this year and it’s 25 years since his death.
Posted to Music by Bryce Zabel on October 3, 2005 12:41 PM

Lennon Will End It’s Broadway Run After Only Six Weeks: A Look At Why
Unfortunately, Lennon failed on so many levels that I have to say honestly that the critics got it right this time.
Posted to Music by Victor Lana on September 17, 2005 07:43 PM

Major Lennon Memorabilia Sale Nets $1.75 Million
Cooper Owen, specialists in “Rock Legends” memorabilia auctions, yesterday sold $1.75 million worth of John Lennon items during a sale at London’s Hippodrome nightclub. The Big Tuna of the sale — called by Cooper Owen…
Posted to Music by Eric Olsen on July 29, 2005 04:45 PM

When I SEE A Working Class Hero, I’ll Give Him Your Regards
John Lennon. Idol yes, hero no.
Posted to Books by Michael J. West on July 29, 2005 02:10 PM

NYC’s Hit Factory to Close
Sadly, this solicitation no longer holds: “The worlds largest and most successful commercial recording facility.” “The completion of the Hit Factory in ’93, set a new bench mark against which many recording facilities will be judged well into the…
Posted to Music by Eric Olsen on February 4, 2005 04:55 PM

John Lennon – Acoustic
Working class hero I picked up John Lennon’s ‘Acoustic’ disc today. It is quite an interesting bunch of songs. The bulk of which can be…
Posted to Music by Lono on November 6, 2004 03:16 AM

Chapman Parole Transcript Released
Speaking of bad weeks – how about a bad life? Does anyone think the world wouldn’t be a better place if Mark David Chapman had never been born? The transcript of Mark Chapman’s recent parole hearing was released…
Posted to Music by Eric Olsen on October 15, 2004 06:28 PM

Lennon Drawings
We mentioned yesterday that John Lennon murderer Mark Chapman was denied parole. In more, and far more positive Lennon news, next month will see the release of a remastered and expanded version of Lennon’s 1975 Rock ‘n’…
Posted to Culture by Eric Olsen on October 7, 2004 11:47 AM

John Lennon Finally Freed By the FBI
Historian Jonathan Wiener, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, has finally freed the last 10 pages of the FBI’s secret files on John Lennon, 21 years after his effort began: U.S. District Judge Robert Takasugi rejected government…
Posted to Politics by Eric Olsen on September 30, 2004 08:22 PM

John Lennon’s Jukebox
Most PBS stations air John Lennon’s Jukebox Wednesday as part of Great Performances. It originally was shown in March in England as part of the South Bank Show (and it was produced by Initial, part…
Posted to Video by Steve Rhodes on September 8, 2004 07:20 AM

Yoko Ono: Weapon of Mass Destruction
On September 16, 2003, Yoko Ono, unrepentant about her previous crimes against humanity in the form of her warped rendition of art, perpetrated her latest abomination in a small Paris theater to a crowd of 200. Yoko, famed for her ability…
Posted to Culture by Tom Norris on March 20, 2004 10:53 PM

“The Late Great Johnny Ace” Paul Simon
Generally speaking, the wistful laments of singer/songwriters don’t much impress me.
Posted to Music by Al Barger on January 23, 2004 03:39 PM

Criminy, but Yoko’s a bitch
Yoko Ono came closer to making John Lennon happy than any other woman, so I want to grant her a lot of credit for being therapeutically effective for a great man. That was a valuable contribution to society. Still, Jesus…
Posted to Video by Al Barger on December 21, 2003 02:36 AM

Ferris Bueller, the Beatles, and the Death of John Lennon
The anniversary of John Lennon’s murder is December 8 – I look at the nexus of John Hughes’ classic ’80s teen movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the Beatles and the death of John. Ferris The premise of the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day…
Posted to Video by Eric Olsen on December 4, 2003 04:16 PM

FOR SALE – Album Lennon Signed for his Killer
The record album that John Lennon signed for the man who killed him hours later is for sale online. The album is being sold by an unidentified man who found it in the front gate flower planter…
Posted to Music by Blog Bloke on November 30, 2003 05:18 AM

John Lennon’s handwritten manuscript of “Nowhere Man” sold for $455,000 at auction Wednesday
Christie’s sold it; its pre-auction estimate was $80,000 – $100,000. Written on a piece of notebook paper in 1965, its price fell just short of George Harrison’s first guitar, which went for $473,000. The song was the fourth of…
Posted to Music by bookofjoe on November 22, 2003 04:54 PM

Paulie Rocks Liverpool, Accepts “Lennon and McCartney”
“It was 40 years ago today…” Paul McCartney returned to Liverpool Sunday for a hometown concert to cap a 14-month world tour. Some 30,000 fans were expected to attend the open-air show on the city’s docks, the final date…
Posted to Music by Eric Olsen on June 1, 2003 06:39 PM

Lennon-McCartney, I Mean McCartney-Lennon
My impression is that Paul McCartney, who has been very much in the public eye of late, is getting something of a bad deal with the mostly negative reaction to his crusade to flip-flop Lennon/McCartney to McCartney/Lennon on the…
Posted to Music by Eric Olsen on December 19, 2002 12:14 PM

What Mark David Chapman took from me
Lennon’s death didn’t change my life the way it did the lives of Beatles fans. It didn’t impact me in quite the same way as someone who was mourning Lennon the man, or the music he created. I mourned something else.
Posted to Music by Michele Catalano on October 10, 2002 07:08 AM

Chapman Denied Parole
And some thoughts on John Lennon’s birthday.
Posted to Music by Eric Olsen on October 9, 2002 01:46 PM

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://wisdomandmurder.blogspot.com Lisa McKay

    I read your opening sentence and found myself startled momentarily, because for some reason, I always seem to forget how obscenely young Lennon was when he died, perhaps because the Beatles had made their mark on pop culture so many years earlier that it somehow seems like he should have been a much older man by then. It’s quite a body of work to have left behind at the age of 40.

  • Eric Olsen

    quite astonishing I agree: at the time I thought Lennon and Elvis were “not young” when they died, but I sure don’t think that now

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Good, I’m glad he’s dead so I dont’ have to do it myself.

    …Oh, wait, I’m thinking of the Russian ruler. Stupid homonyms.

  • Eric Olsen

    yeah, that one’s embalmed and has a pointy beard

  • Eric Olsen

    today is the day – very sad

  • http://wisdomandmurder.blogspot.com Lisa McKay

    I turned on the radio on my way to work this morning (something I almost never do) and they were playing “Imagine”. It was very poignant.

  • tommyd

    I’ll never forget that Monday night 25 years ago, when Howard Cosell broke through the Monday Night Football game to tell me (14 years old) and the world that John Lennon was dead. One of the few times in my life that I actually cried over someone or something for days! A piece of everyone’s spirit of peace or idealism was rudely ripped out of our hearts and replaced by a growing dissonance amongst all areas of social relations.

    The art of music has also drastically declined in quality over 25 years, although it wasn’t really apparent the night when Lennon was shot. But nevertheless, we should’ve known that without John Lennon still in the world making music (good or bad) that rock n roll was on it’s way out. Yea, there’s been some shots of good rock over the past quarter century, but let’s face it: Rock will never carry that weight a long time. The world has changed and John Lennon wasn’t around to stop it from changing for the worse. He is sorely missed.

    Peace.

  • Eric Olsen

    I cried a bit too, which really caught me off-guard – it seemed such a senseless violation.

  • http://journals.aol.com/vicl04/THESAVAGEQUIETSEPTEMBERSUN/ Victor Lana

    Yes, Eric, a violation indeed. Of all things that made the 60s and 70s an amazing time to live. John (and the rest of the Beatles) shaped our culture; our lives changed because of them. In Liverpool there is a strange monument, but it says it best: Four Lads Who Shook the World.

    And yet what of that? John stands out for his denial of his importance. He was humble, shy, and brilliant. He understood that his place in the scheme of things, whilst important for a time, was miniscule in the larger universe (remember the song?)

    I too remember that Monday night, sitting in a bar with my friends watching the game (who was playing has been lost in my memory). As was usual in those days, the sound was off and the juke box blaring, so I saw Cosell and then remember pictures of John being put on the screen.

    I had an early class the next morning, so I went home and put on NIGHTLINE. I sat there until 1 am drinking Jack Daniels and crying. Needless to say, there was no way I went to that class or did anything the next day.

    December 8, 1980: The Day the Music Died (Part II)

  • http://theglenblog.blogspot.com Glen Boyd

    Remembering John Lennon….and Lighting Up One Last Time in Washington State

    Today December 8, 2005, twenty five years have passed since John Lennon was gunned down by a crazed fan in New York City.

    Ironically, it will also mark the last time that myself, along with every smoker in Washington State, will be able to enjoy a drink and a cigarette at a bar as the new anti-smoking law (Initiative 901) that was passed overwhelmingly by the voters last month here in Washington takes effect.

    I actually smoked my last ceremonial public cigarette a few hours ago at the bowling alley bar just across the street from my house. Not surprisingly, a lot of the people at the bar enjoying their last smokes weren’t talking about the new law at all…though it was certainly on their minds on this last night of enjoying a freedom taken for granted not that long ago… Now gone.

    A lot of them…a lot of “us” I should say, we’re actually rather talking about, and remembering, John Lennon. I suspect Lennon, a smoker himself, would have liked that.

    Lennon spent much of his adult life, both as an artist, and as an activist, fighting for various causes in the political arena, and he often paid dearly for it.

    I’m not exactly sure what Lennon’s position would be on a smoking ban if he we’re alive today.

    In the sixties and seventies, the freedom to smoke a cigarette in a bar was simply a given not worth a second thought. Actually the real issues of the day…hotly debated back then by people smoking cigarettes in bars I’m sure…included the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, and the growing unrest in America’s streets and on it’s college campuses.

    For speaking out on these and other subjects, John Lennon earned himself a prominent position on an “enemies list” kept by the Nixon White House.

    Lennon’s place on the “list” earned him, among other things, FBI surveillance, and being effectively kept out of the country for years. It was only when Watergate finally brought down the Nixon presidency, that the long rumored “secret” enemies list became public knowledge.

    I’m not a fan of every single conribution John Lennon made to the world. In fact, as a twelve year old boy, I can think of practically no woman I less wanted to see naked than Yoko Ono. Yet John Lennon brought us that sight, along with all of his own uncurcuimsized glory on an album cover. Yuk!

    But Lennon’s legacy and impact on music and culture are undeniable.

    I can still remember exactly where I was the night John Lennon died. I’ll never forget it.

    The Seattle music industry was celebrating it’s annual Christmas party at the Butcher restaurant in Georgetown. In 1980, years before the Seattle Grunge boom of the nineties, the hot local band was Heart, led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson.

    About thirty minutes before Heart we’re going to make their grand appearance at the party (and trust me, this was meant to be a big deal), the rumors that Lennon had been shot began circulating through the room.

    Somebody actually sent me out to call the local newspaper, the P-I, to confirm the rumors and I ended up being quoted on the front page in the following morning’s edition. When Heart finally did arrive later that night, the party was clearly over. To this day, I remember the puzzled looks on Ann and Nancy’s faces (apparently they hadn’t heard the news yet) as the room emptied at pretty much the same moment they arrived. I also remember the weird sensation I felt…of feeling sorry for the Wilson sisters even as the shock of Lennon’s death was still sinking in.

    The next morning I had to make an emergency run, just as every record store manager in America did that morning, to stock up on Lennon and Beatles records for what was sure to be a big sales day in the wake of the previous evening’s tragic news.

    As I drove back to Tacoma from our one-stop in Seattle, my trunk piled with Beatles and Lennon music for the record store to sell, the radio was of course playing the same music nonstop. When “Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out”, a somewhat obscure Lennon track (from “Walls and Bridges” I think) came on, I actually had to pull off the road.

    That’s when the real impact finally hit me. I sat there and cried for about five minutes.

    So earlier tonight, when I went across the street to the bowling alley to smoke the last cigarette I apparently will ever smoke in a Washington state drinking establishment, it was nice to spend that time in the company of some folks who wanted to remember John Lennon.

    We smoked and drank and talked about our memories of the man (including the story I told above) whose music was basically the soundtrack of our lives.

    So many memories. And more than a few of them I’m sure, probably included us smoking cigarettes.

    So many memories. So many cigarettes.

    We miss ya John.

    Glen Boyd

  • Eric Olsen

    very interesting Glen, thanks! though I am not sure about the juxtapositioning of smoking, a new smoking ban (they are all over now, I’m sure you are aware), and the Lennon legacy

  • tommyd

    These Communist, Totalitarian, Nanny Government smoking bans have ruined night life around here. People just don’t go out as much and if they do, they stay out for an hour and go home. Even if John Lennon was a Commie sympathizer, I think he’d be aghast at being unable to smoke in BAR!!

  • Rob G.

    John Lennon told us all to imagine a better world…but we never could have imagined losing him to a lesser one.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    tommyd’s #7 above was chosen as Comment of the Day for Thursday 8th December 2005. Congratulations tommyd.

  • J-KUP

    Paul McCartney Rules