December 8, 2020: The 40th Anniversary of John Lennon’s Assassination

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

“The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”

It was a Monday night, just barely over a month since Ronald Reagan had become President-Elect by winning a smaller percentage of the popular vote than Joe Biden did recently. Most of the white males who had voted for Reagan were watching Monday night football. I was watching “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” at Cathay Gleeson’s apartment on Idaho in Santa Monica. The film was made in my birth year (1947) and held up surprisingly well, or so my memory of it is, even though the broadcast was interrupted by the announcement of John Lennon’s assassination.

John Lennon’s dead.
John Lennon’s dead.
I can’t get it through my head.
Though it’s been so many years,
John Lennon’s dead.

Sometimes those lines echo in my mind’s ear as I think about his song about his mother, who died when Lennon was twelve years old. She was a pedestrian run over by a drunk off-duty police officer.

“Even the dead are growing old,” wrote Phil Levine. In my life, Lennon is older than I ever expected him to be.