Read the latest musings from our resident blogger right here, every Friday. And if you want more then there’s more than a year’s worth of his finest work archived on the Self Made Man page – click on the tab at the top of the Home Page and Bob’s your uncle…this week John Lennon falls under the microscope.
Anyone over 40 can remember where they were, what they were doing and how they felt when news broke that John Lennon had been shot dead outside his New York apartment.
But in reality, it’s only those who are now into their fifties who felt real grief at his passing. For the fact is that for most of the seventies _ the formative decade for me and my fellow 40 somethings _ Lennon was someone who was in the shadows for most that period.
Not quite a has-been but hardly at the cutting edge of music.
We weren’t the generation of Beatlesmania and while all of us were aware of the Fab Four’s stunning catalogue, their demise had come when we were still in shorts or even nappies.
And of course, 1980 had already seen two rock legends move on to that great gig in the sky and personally, I felt the losses of AC/DC’s Bon Scott and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin far more intensely.
Of course, like everyone else, we loved their songs and similarly we grew up recognising the sheer genius of some of his post=Beateles songs, Imagine, Lennon’s finest solo work, Jealous Guy and the evocative Merry Christmas, War Is Over.
Lennon spent much of the 70s in semi-retirement, raising his second son Sean alongside Yoko Ono, someone who many people older than me despised because they believed it was her relationship with John which split the Beateles.
But when Lennon re-emerged with the release of Double Fantasy, it wasn’t greeted with that much excitement.
A mate of mine bought it and I quite liked Starting Over, Woman and Watching the Wheels but in all honesty, it wasn’t an album I’d have considered having in my collection at that stage in my life.
I remember hearing the news of Lennon’s death on Radio One at 7.30 on the morning of December 9 1980 (It was the days before Breakfast TV) but it was the comments of a certain DJ a couple of hours later which are my most vivid memory of the day itself.
The DJ in question, who shall remain nameless to spare him his embarrassment, had slagged off Lennon and his latest album a few days earlier live on air. Death, however, brought a dramatic new perspective with this shamless individual waxing lyrical about a record he’d previously dismissed and claiming the former Beatle was on the verge of re-ignting his career.
My brother and I were spared homework that night with our parents, who weren’t Beatles fans, acknowledging the momentous event that had just happened and allowing us to watch the rescheduled TV programmes that night which were dedicated to the fallen idol. (Any excuse for a night off).
It wasn’t until a few years later that I really got into The Beatles, particularly their output from Sergeant Pepper onwards.
Paul McCartney was once described as the shallow composer with breadth while Lennon had depth but his material was more narrow. It is a pretty good summation of their respective qualities.
Thirty years after his death, I’m glad to say Lennon is universally recognised as a genius in his field and millions of music lovers who weren’t even born when his life was so cruelly cut short, enjoy his work as much as those so grief-stricken that dreadful day 30 years ago.