Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Living is easy with eyes closed

John Lennon was shot and killed on this day in 1980 by Mark David Chapman.

Lennon, 40, was entering his Manhattan apartment building when Chapman shot him four times at close range with a .38-caliber revolver. Lennon died en route to the hospital. Chapman had received an autograph from Lennon earlier in the day and voluntarily remained at the scene until he was arrested by police.

For a week, hundreds of bereaved fans kept a vigil outside the Dakota--Lennon's apartment building--and demonstrations of mourning were held around the world.

Lennon was considered the intellectual Beatle and was the most outspoken of the four. He caused a major controversy in 1966 when he said the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus," prompting mass burnings of Beatles' records in the American Bible Belt. He later became an anti-war activist and flirted with communism in the lyrics of solo hits like "Imagine," recorded after the Beatles disbanded in 1970.

In 1975, Lennon dropped out of the music business to spend more time with his wife, Yoko Ono. In 1980, he made a comeback with Double-Fantasy, a critically acclaimed album that celebrated his love for Yoko and featured songs written by her.

Chapman was diagnosed a borderline psychotic and instructed to plead insanity, but instead pleaded guilty to murder. He was sentenced to 20 years to life. In 2000, New York State prison officials denied Chapman a parole hearing, telling him that his "vicious and violent act was apparently fueled by your need to be acknowledged." He remains behind bars at Attica Prison in New York.

Lennon is memorialized in Strawberry Fields, a section of Central Park across the street from the Dakota that Ono landscaped in honor of her husband. "Strawberry Fields Forever," the song, was written by Lennon and released in 1967. Strawberry Fields was a children's home behind Lennon's boyhood home. He used to play in the trees behind the home.

In 1980 Lennon said about the song:

"I was always hip. I was hip in kindergarten. I was different from the others. I was different all my life. The second verse goes, 'No one I think is in my tree.'

"When I looked at myself in the mirror or when I was 12, 13, I used to trance out…I would find myself seeing hallucinatory images of my face changing and becoming cosmic and complete. It caused me to always be a rebel…

"…On the other hand, I wanted to be loved and accepted. Part of me would like to be accepted by all facets of society...But I cannot be what I am not."

Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever