John Lennon at 70

What if you had lived?
I’m wondering late at night as an autumn rain blows in.
Maybe just a little like a Liverpool rain?

Maybe it was raining when you sat on the bedroom floor of your friend Paul’s house and listened to Buddy Holly, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins and Elvis and then made up some songs of your own?

Maybe it was raining in Hamburg, those early days when your band would go for 8-10 hours a set. Every day. It really all started from the fact that you guys practiced. You poured the sweat of the hardest working guy on the Liverpool docks into your job. You put your hours in. My God, you guys were good. You worked at being good. And it showed.

Maybe it was raining outside of the Ed Sullivan Theater that first night you came through the tiny black and white Zenith TV in our families basement, I hushed my sisters to listen, they liked Paul but I thought you were the cool one.

On that night that everything changed.

I remember looking at your scribbled handwriting on the ragged piece of paper in the most stately of glass display cases in the British Museum. That piece of paper where you wrote:

“Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved you more.”

Maybe it was raining that night in front of the Dakota. That night you were shot down dead.

That night everything changed again.

It’s been what. . .that many years?


Sometimes I forget that you are gone.

But then I remember what you left behind.

I listen and I grin.
Trying to be a bit like you.
As if I knew one or two of your secrets.
And of course I don’t.
But I can sure feel you there when you sing.

4 Responses to “John Lennon at 70”

  1. Paul Haider Says:

    I still haven’t decided which John Lennon songs will be played from my iPod today, but it will be anything from his solo years of 1970 to 1980. Perhaps I will watch the video of “Mind Games” that shows footage of a 33-year-old John Lennon walking through Central Park and other areas of NYC on an autumn day in 1973. John really loved New York, and it cost him his life to become an American citizen and choose to live here instead of in England. I will try to imagine my country living in peace without hand guns, but I will then be reminded by gun-nuts of the Second Amendment and the only part of the U.S. Constitution that they know. Instead, I will listen to John’s song “Grow Old With Me,” and I will think of the cool old man he would have been if the country where he chose to live actually cared as much about peace and love as he did.
    Paul Haider, Chicago

    P.S. Happy Birthday, John.

  2. Ted Schneider Says:


    I must admit I was never really a Beatles fan but Lennon was indeed an artist among artists. A few weeks back I saw a band called Stockwood and they were between 13 and 17 years old and looked, sounded and talked like the Beatles. They performed well and it reminded me of music from a time when life seemed very different. In Lennon’s case, a shame he was cut down when he was.

  3. Dale Says:

    Artists are fortunate in that their legacy can be seen clearly. (And you know more than you suggest here, my man.)

  4. Paul Haider Says:

    I forgot to mention that John is still my favorite Beatle with George being second. I also forgot to write that I have no idea when the birthdays of Richard Nixon, who hated John and included him on his “enemies list,” or Ronald Reagan are or when either of those Presidents were born. However, I do know that I celebrate John Lennon’s birthday every October 9th; he will always be on my “friends list” of great Americans (Jimmy Carter, Bruce Springsteen) who I admire. Much like the ancestors on my mother’s side, John came to the United States from England seeking freedom; he is now “free as a bird.”
    Paul Haider, Chicago

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