Remember

It was sad to hear of the passing of Elizabeth Edwards. I didn’t know much about her but she seemed like a good and courageous woman to whom life dealt several very raw deals.

Today, December 8th, is also the thirtieth anniversary of the death of another well-know person .  . .

I was talking with a friend on the phone and I heard his girlfriend say in the background, “John Lennon’s been shot. He dead.” We got off the line immediately and I switched on the television. We didn’t have 24 hour news in those days and not many channels available. As I recall I couldn’t find anything on it right away so I turned on the radio. KLOS was playing I am the Walrus, and when it was over the DJ confirmed the tragic news. I remember feeling that it was pretty goddamn unfair. He didn’t even get a chance to fight for life, he was just dead.

I wasn’t a practicing Buddhist then. But I had some buds to help me get through it. They all had the last name of Weiser. I think we commiserated for a straight week.

Sounds extreme? Well, for people in my generation it was a traumatic event on a par with the Kennedy assassination and 9/11. Sure, he was a just a guy who played in a rock and roll band. But the Beatles changed the world and they changed our lives.

I hadn’t heard of the Beatles until I caught a promo for the Ed Sullivan show a few days before the historic first appearance. I made a mental note to be sure to tune in that week. “England’s new singing sensations,” the promo said. Sounded interesting. I had only been into music for about a year or so but I was really getting into, so I thought it was something I needed to see. TV wasn’t very sophisticated back then. I have no doubt now that some studio guy was standing in front of a camera holding a cardboard sign with the Beatles’ faces drawn on it while the announcer read the copy.

From the moment the show started that Sunday, you knew this was not going to be your average run-of-the-mill Ed Sullivan variety program. You could feel the electricity all the way from New York City to where I was in Wichita, Kansas. Ed introduced the Beatles and nothing was ever the same again.

The next day that’s all anyone talked about: The Beatles. Even our teachers. And this went on for several days, and then there were new groups and new songs it seemed every week, and everyone started wearing their hair differently and talking differently and there was a whole new style of clothes – it was literally like being from Kansas and stepping out of a black and white world into a Technicolor one. And that was just the beginning.

That’s a few reasons why John Lennon meant so much. George Harrison too, who passed away nine years ago on Nov. 29th. Of course, Paul and Ringo. In my mind, they were always like angels.

So, thirty years ago today . . . And in remembrance, not something sad, but poignant maybe. It’s documented Beatles lore about how they felt very dissatisfied with the Maharishi after the stay in India. They thought he was a phony because he was hitting on some of the women in the Beatles’ troupe. There might have some other things going on with the individual Beatles themselves that might have contributed to their discontent.

Here’s a rare John Lennon song, called “India, India”, a song not as bitter as some of the other songs he wrote about the Rishikesh experience, such as Sexy Sadie and The Happy Rishikesh Song. In fact, to me, this song has sort of a Hawaiian feel, reminiscent of something Elvis might have sung in one of his movies. Yet, John’s dissatisfaction and loneliness comes through, especially in the lyrics. “The girl I left behind” refers to Yoko who John wanted to take to India instead of his wife, Cynthia. You can read the lyrics below the video.

India, India, take me to your heart
Reveal your ancient mysteries to me
I’m searching for an answer, but somewhere deep inside
I know I’ll never find it here – it’s already in my mind

India, India, listen to my plea
Sit here at your feet so please don’t leave
I’m waiting by the river but somewhere in my mind
I left my heart in England with the girl I left behind

I’ve got to follow my heart wherever it takes me
I’ve got to follow my heart wherever it calls to me
I’ve got to follow my heart and my heart is going home

India, India, listen to my plea
I sit here at your feet so patiently
I’m waiting by the river but somewhere in my mind
I left my heart in England with the girl I left behind

I’ve got to follow my heart wherever it takes me
I’ve got to follow my heart wherever it calls to me
I’ve got to follow my heart and my heart is going home

John Lennon

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