I was way too young to be affected by John Lennon’s death when it happened. I was 4 at the time, and pretty unable to grasp the concept of death, never mind the fact that I don’t think I knew what a Beatle was until I saw “Yellow Submarine” on TV maybe a year later.

Nearly three decades later, Lennon’s death is keenly felt, not only for the fact that he was an excellent songwriter and an affecting singer, but also because of what he represented. A personality like his is pretty much nonexistent in today’s music world. You’ve got to give props to a man who gave so much of himself to improving the world around him, a man who was unafraid to give his listeners a no-holds-barred look at what was on his mind at any given time, whether you agree with him or not.

I discovered The Beatles in earnest when I was in fifth grade, and while I was familiar with Lennon’s posthumous hits (and, of course, “Imagine”) as a kid, I really discovered his solo music and his personal philosophies in my late teens. While I was immediately transfixed by the music, I probably shouldn’t have started with the Albert Goldman biography. Anyway, Lennon is one of the few rock stars who worked their way into my everyday wardrobe in the form of his face on a T-shirt. It was a sign that not only was I a fan of John as a musician, but that I supported his philosophy. Equality, peace, truth. Who can argue with that? Of course, most people that saw the shirt didn’t get the same vibe, as the only two comments I remember were some guy I worked with asking if that was Paul McCartney and some other guy criticizing me for wearing a shirt with a picture of a white man on it.

Anyhow, the John Lennon song that I’m fondest of is “God”. If you’ve never listened to “Plastic Ono Band”, I strongly recommend that you do. It’s the aural equivalent of John cutting himself open and bleeding all over the music. From it’s opening line, “God is a concept by which we measure our pain”, I was hooked. Of course, my feelings on Christianity and religion in general are a lot more complicated than that one line, but it definitely made me think. Anyhow, nothing I can say would do justice to how powerful this song is, so just listen to it. I found a very cool piece on Youtube that pieces together photos from various stages in John’s life. It opens with the famous Howard Cosell announcement of John’s death and closes with a quote from John himself.

John is definitely one of those artists I wish was still around to make music. It would have been interesting to see what he would have done in light of all the changes that have taken place in music since 1980. Not for nothing, but it probably would have been quite a bit more interesting than anything the other Beatles have come up with since then.

Anyway, the purpose of this was not to shit on the other Beatles, but to remember John Lennon. So, enjoy the video.