They’re Singing on Strawberry Fields Tonight

December 8th, 2005

I’ve never been a big Beatles fan; that whole phenomenon occurred a bit before my time. But I remember what happened on this day twenty-five years ago. I remember it as one of those mileposts along the way of my youth, like the day Reagan was shot, or the day we lost Challenger. I remember the news that next morning, of how Mark David Chapman, clutching a copy of The Catcher in the Rye, stood outside the Dakota and gunned down down John Lennon. I remember it as a national event. I remember it as an act of pointless, needless destruction. Most of all, I remember how it affected the people around me. In the next issue of Seed magazine, on the last page, we published a poem: short, poignant, and personal. To this day, I still hear its last line in my head whenever I hear Lennon’s name:

8 December 1980 / 10:55 PM
Jim Barber

Black-poised, waiting:
Spitting fire across a gulf.
The blood on that sidewalk will never dry
As fears and dreams
Rise from the concrete soul of the Dakota.

The teletypes convulse with the news
That stuns like a sledgehammer.
You’re on five of my radio stations:
Why does death make us realize what
We conveniently ignore in life?
Sons without fathers,
Wives without husbands,
Lives without music:
All these things from the miracle of modern weaponery.
You saw revolution for what it was
And believed that love could change the world.
Look what the world did to you.
G’bye, mate…

One Response to “They’re Singing on Strawberry Fields Tonight”

  1. Jerry Mahone Says:

    I remember where I was at the moment I heard. I was watching Monday Night Football in my bedroom, half-attempting to get my homework done, when Howard Cosell announced that John Lennon had been murdered. I remember searching for some sort of sentiment in his voice that would indicate detachment, aloofness, some sort of sign that Cosell didn’t really understand the significance of this and that it was just yet another murder, but it never came. Hearing Howard Cosell somberly announce this news, the irony of it (”Sports personality breaks the news to millions of Americans during a football game of Lennon’s murder”), and all I could think about was what would my sister think, and then, the terrible irony of the Beatles’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun”. Carole is 9 years older than me, and was a fully-involved Beatles freak, and this night hurt her terribly. It’s the saddest part of remembering this day, for me.