December 8, 2010

30 Years Ago Today: John Lennon & Strawberry Fields.

Update: 31! ~ ed.

I read the news today, oh boy….Thirty years ago today, I woke to find out that John Lennon had been shot outside of his apartment building in New York. He was 41 and dead, I was 14 and hating life. But I loved the Beatles, particularly the really weird, psychedelic stuff that seemed to provide a momentary escape from my adolescent misery.

My favorite Beatles song is Strawberry Fields Forever…which isn’t so much about drugs…as countless wasted teenagers, or ex-wasted teenagers will tell you, or about some specific place in Liverpool that had some specific importance in John Lennon’s specific life, as countless music trivia nerds will tell you, though both may be in the mix. What it’s about, I think, is having a place in the mind to go where everything’s okay. (There are a bunch of Lennon songs about that, actually, including the very early, and lovely There’s a Place) (and, admittedly, drugs have served for many, including Lennon himself, as a way to get there)….

But this one takes it a step further, to acknowledge the one big problem with that place…which is not, actually, that it isn’t real. That’s part of the appeal, in fact, and precisely the reason there’s nothing to get hung about. The trouble is, no matter how many times you say let me take you down, or to how many people, you can only ever be alone there…that is you can’t you know tune in but it’s alright, that is I think it’s not too bad. Any real connection, as Lennon realized…and, eventually, so did I…requires setting out from that safe, comfortable space…

*part of this article appeared, in a different form, a long time ago, at Yoga for Cynics*

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