Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In remembrance

All three of these pieces are from today's New York Times.

1) Yoko:
It was nice to be up in the middle of the night, when there was no sound in the house, and sip the tea John would make. One night, however, John said: “I was talking to Aunt Mimi this afternoon and she says you are supposed to put the hot water in first. Then the tea bag. I could swear she taught me to put the tea bag in first, but ...”

“So all this time, we were doing it wrong?”

“Yeah ...”

We both cracked up. That was in 1980. Neither of us knew that it was to be the last year of our life together.

2) Ray Davies of the Kinks:
A few days later, I had to leave for Paris for a tour with my band, the Kinks. When I arrived, I went straight into an early-morning session of interviews. One journalist wanted to play me records and have me review them. After a couple of tracks, he played me the first single from the new John Lennon-Yoko Ono album. I sat and listened, but my attention was drawn to the image of Yoko standing alone in the cold a few days before.

The track finished and the room fell silent. I said that I had heard some of the album on the radio and had not been particularly struck by anything so far, but eventually, as with all of John’s work, something would grab me and stay in my head forever. The journalist took a deep breath and announced that John had died the previous night. Shot while going into his apartment building.

I felt cheated, bitter, foolish — and ambushed by the reporter. It must have happened while I was traveling. I thought back to when I was a 17-year-old student in the recreation room at art college and heard John sing “Twist and Shout” on the record player, and how I was blown away by his directness. How his voice cut through all the nonsense and sent a message to me that said, “If I can do it then so can you, so get up off your backside and play some rock ’n’ roll,” as if to throw down a musical gauntlet.

3) The Editorial Board:
It was a new kind of death — not a political assassination like the ones that claimed the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King Jr.; not the self-immolation that took down Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison. Lennon survived the ’60s and ’70s, and by 1980 he was living in New York City as normally, as modestly, as he and his wife, Yoko Ono, could. Then a deranged young man, Mark David Chapman, found a secular scripture in J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” and shot Lennon in hopes of becoming Holden Caulfield.

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