It was 25 years ago today…

…I was an 18-year-old attendee of the University of Maine, sharing a dorm room with some jock I had no interest in talking to about much of anything (a feeling that was reciprocated in kind). I had only just set foot into the grown-up world, flung mercilessly from the heights of high school senior-ism to the depths of college freshman-ism. I was enrolled to study civil engineering, but I really had no interest in that, either. I thought I wanted to be an architect and go to the Rhode Island School of Design. But, somehow, I wound up at UMO, where there were more people in my freshman English class than were enrolled in my entire high school.

I had just been moved out of the dorm room I shared with a couple of nerds (we proudly displayed our election bumperstickers on our door: one for Reagan, one for Carter and one for Anderson) into one with a wannabe football player. And to top it all off, my high school girlfriend’s mother told her that she was too young to be dating a college guy (which was very true, though, like today, I had the maturity of a 12-year-old, so it really didn’t make sense to me).

I was not a happy camper.

Monday night, December 8, was just the end of another day of trying to comprehend a calculus lecture by a math professor with an unintelligible accent; pretending to be interested in a surveying class; and spending the rest of my time either holed up in the library or feeding quarters into a video game. When I got “home” to the dorm room, my roommate’s black-and-white TV was tuned to Monday Night Football. I was not a football fan, but I was mildly interested, because the Patriots were playing. That was when Howard Cosell broke the news that John Lennon had been shot.

It was like a punch in the gut.

I spent the next morning glued to the TV and the rest of that week in shock. It was the first time I felt that kind of emotion at the death of someone I didn’t know personally.

I was a huge Beatle fan from the moment I heard “A Hard Day’s Night” at a cousin’s house. I don’t think you can understand the significance of that one, crashing guitar chord in a house where nothing but country music was ever heard. (G7add11 is what we always played, though I know this is a big debate.) I was hooked, and I spent the rest of my teenage years collecting Beatle albums and some memorabilia. I still have one of these Beatle Disk-Go cases somewhere. (I think it might be worth something…) Even our fledgling band was named for my favorite Beatle album.

It just wasn’t right. He was supposed to stick around to sing about ending poverty and the war in Iraq. He was supposed to keep competing with McCartney and pushing him to do better things. He was supposed to go out like Johnny Cash or Warren Zevon.

I know this is all 20:20 hindsight. He had just come out with a new album, the first one in years, but at that point, I was more excited about the Talking Heads, the Clash, the Pretenders and the Ramones than listening to half an album of bubbly pop songs, while trying to avoid the other half (where Yoko was given equal time to screech and wail). John Lennon had become totally irrelevant by 1980. But it was a Lennon album, at least. And here was Howard Cosell, of all people, telling me it would be his last.

The 80’s were gonna suck.

Life is what happens while your busy making other plans.

This entry was posted in Life, the Universe and Everything. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to It was 25 years ago today…

  1. Linkmeister says:

    I remember it. Who’d have thought Howard Cosell would be the one to announce it to the world, and who’d have thought MNF would have been the vehicle through which much of the American audience first learned of it?

  2. Ric The Schmuck says:

    I didn’t hear it from Monday Night Football, as I wasn’t terribly into football at the time. I heard it on the TV the next morning. Same reaction as Solly, just like a punch in the gut.

    As I’m a year younger than Solly, I was still in high school. And his eeeevil influence was such that the bunch of us that hung around together were pretty much all Beatles freaks. Those of us that were still at high school were congregated in room 16, where we pretty much always were anyway. (There was usually a Beatles album playing before school in there.)

    We were a pretty grim bunch for the next several weeks. I remember the feeling very well.

    It still sucks.

  3. Scott says:

    Nicely said, Solly. I haven’t written my own thoughts on it yet, due to being so freakin’ busy lately, but I still feel his loss, too.

  4. domino says:

    As I’m two years younger than Solly, I was still in high school too. I heard it on the radio the next morning.

    I remember walking into in room 16, and I remember seeing Ric. It was a weird day. Most kids at HHS didn’t give a damn, but some of us it hit hard. It still hurts, as much as the death of some one I don’t really know can hurt.

    Who the fack murders someone who preached “All You Need is Love” and “Give Peace a Chance”?


Comments are closed.