Sean Beaudoin was just a kid when John Lennon was killed, but he will never forget how it felt when he suddenly felt the weight of the loss.
John Lennon was shot Dec. 8th, 1980.
We listened to the radio reports in my mom’s tan Impala wagon. I remember wondering if I’d earned the right to be sad. The next day I was sitting in Modern Music (the kind of class I’m sure no longer exists in a single middle school in America) and everyone was making jokes. The teacher (young, Sears sweaters, mustache) was usually friendly and enthusiastic even though our class was full of knuckleheads. Most days we listened to and deconstructed albums (Heart, Wayne Shorter, Zappa, Godspell). Normally mute tough guys actually paid attention and even made intelligent comments. We debated the relative merits of Ozzy. We tried to describe tempo. We argued Peart v. Bonham. But on this day the teacher snapped. He rushed into the room, shut down the jokes with a slash of his hand. Was he actually almost in tears? We listened in silence as he went on an extended rant about the shooting, about the incalculable loss to popular culture. He concluded, with pure conviction, that Mark David Chapman should be executed.
I remember the rest of the day walking around in trance, relatively sure that something important had finally happened in my lifetime.
Photo: John Fremm/AP