Thursday, December 08, 2005

Johnny we hardly knew ye :-(

Today in Music History:

Twenty five years ago, John Lennon was shot five times by 25 year old Mark Chapman outside the Dakota building where John and Yoko lived. Chapman had been stalking Lennon for days outside the Dakota apartments and asked for an autograph as Lennon walked through the courtyard. As he signed a piece of paper Chapman fired. Lennon was pronounced dead from a massive loss of blood at 11.30pm.
lennonIt goes without saying that many people will be remembering John today. From bloggers to TV and radio, each person will have his own way to pay tribute to a truly great musician. What makes John such an icon is that he so much more than a musician. I have already read several heartfelt pieces about the man and my writing is hardly good enough to compare to some of the wonderful things I've read already today. It was one of those defining moments, and everyone knows exactly what they were doing when they heard the news and they will never forget. Each of us dealt with the news in a different way. For myself, I immediately sought out my best friend to see if he had heard the news. When I got to his house, I could see it in his eyes that he had heard. He had the radio and the TV on and he says to me, "How could this happen?". My friend and I held our own kind of vigil that night. We sat together at his house and listened to his albums, the solo stuff, for he had them all. At first neither of us spoke, each of us mulling over our own thoughts. By the end of the Mind Games album, we had made several toasts to John. We drank, talked, sang and listened until dawn. Drunk as skunks and crying like blithering idiots. Maybe not the classiest way to mourn our hero, but at the time and in our grief, it was the only thing that seemed reasonable. Phil Lynott would understand since he wrote a song about Elvis called King's Call, that is just as appropriate for John.
It was a rainy night the night the king went down
Everybody was crying it seemed like sadness had surrounded the town
Me I went to the liquor store
And I bought a bottle of wine and a bottle of gin
I played his records all night
Drinking with a close, close friend

Now some people say that that ain'’t right
And some people say nothing at all
But even in the darkest of night
You can always hear the king'’s call
What really pisses me off the mostis the senseless act of violence and pure stupidity that ended his life, and if I dwell on it for too long, I get more and more angry. I'm all for the Constitution and I hate any act by the government that tries to quell any of our freedoms, but then and even more so now the gun laws have to be changed. Americans are concerned about terrorism when they go about killing each other at an alarming rate with hand gun violence. Don't even get me started on assault weapons. I'm down off my soapbox now.

I'm not going to feature a John Lennon song today. Every radio station and blogger will be doing that today. Instead I'll feature the most poignant and apropos song ever written as a tribute to John Lennon. Written by his good friends Elton John and Bernie Taupin. This may well be Taupin's lyrical masterpiece. Elton sings it with such emotion and a clear cut ache in his voice, that sometimes it is difficult to listen to without it wrenching your gut. It is a sad portrait of a child who doesn't realize that his playmate is dead. He keeps knocking on his friend's door, calling out for him, knowing that any minute he will come out to play, and slowly recognizing the terrible truth only after knocking and calling out "most of the day." The analogy to an adult still in the stage of denial is chilling in its appropriateness, and Elton's vocal captures the anguish perfectly. I don't normally post lyrics but these lyrics are exceptional and describe the man and the hurt we all felt that night. Lennon is the song's "Johnny," the "insect" is Lennon's murderer, Mark David Chapman, and the brownstone is the Dakota, Lennon's New York home where he was killed. The cracked sidewalk where "nothing grows no more" is where Lennon fell, the flagstones suggest tombstones, and the sunset symbolizes not only the end of a life, but also the end of an era so profoundly touched by that life. The tone of profound sadness is established with the first line, which suggests that we have come upon a scene of utter desolation. Indeed we have.(I am not this good a writer, excerpts culled from the Bernie Taupin web site)

Empty Garden by Elton John
(File taken down, check current posts for some more great music)

What happened here
As the new york sunset disappeared
I found an empty garden among the flagstones there
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And now it all looks strange
It’s funny how one insect can damage so much grain

And what’s it for
This little empty garden by the brownstone door
And in the cracks along the sidewalk nothing grows no more
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And we are so amazed we’re crippled and we’re dazed
A gardener like that one no one can replace

And I’ve been knocking but no one answers
And I’ve been knocking most all the day
Oh and I’ve been calling oh hey hey johnny
Can’t you come out to play

And through their tears
Some say he farmed his best in younger years
But he’d have said that roots grow stronger if only he could hear
Who lived there
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
Now we pray for rain, and with every drop that falls
We hear, we hear your name

Johnny can’t you come out to play in your empty garden

We miss you John.

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