And though the news was rather sad.

I realized yesterday that today is the anniversary of John Lennon’s death. I was alive in 1980, but a little young to be a Beatles/John Lennon fan, so I really only know of a world in which there is no chance of the Beatles reuniting. John has never been my favorite Beatle (I’m looking at you, George), but “Imagine” is one of Mike’s all-time favorite songs, and as he has discovered the Beatles for himself the past few years, I have had the pleasure of seeing John Lennon with new eyes. He was hard and cynical, but he wanted to believe in a better world. These days, those are both things that I can relate to.

I was in high school when the Beatles Anthology aired. I had books on the Beatles. I had a calendar on my wall. (Actually, I had two.) I had several of their CDs. I didn’t get to go to the midnight release of the first Anthology album, but my dad took me to the midnight release of the second one. An hour away. In the rain. Because I really wanted to go. (I drove us home. He fell asleep.) For whatever reason (probably because they are the greatest band of all time, just saying), the Beatles were huge for me in high school. I remember walking so proudly into the music store at the mall to finally buy my very own copy of Sgt. Pepper. It felt so incredibly important, almost as if balloons and confetti should start falling from the ceiling and the loudspeaker should announce congratulations. And just like so many other millions of people, it completely blew me away.

Maybe that’s just what nerdy outcast students do: wear Chuck Taylors and listen to the Beatles. There is such longing in their lyrics, both John and Paul’s songs, especially as they move to the place of wanting more than just money, wanting real relationships. “Look at all the lonely people.” “But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured.” “Some have gone and some remain.” Perhaps it was my own form of high school liturgy – the songs that I sang were the songs that many high schoolers before me had sung to help them survive. The Beatles have sung me through hard times, gotten me dates, and are still on almost every single mix CD I make.

This week, the art teacher and I have been working on a project that examines cover art and talks about what it says, then has students create their own. I am eventually going to teach them how to use Microsoft Publisher to create a brochure about the CD they create, but first I was in charge of teaching them a little bit about cover art. They enjoyed it, and I enjoyed showing them Pink Floyd, The Mountain Goats, Joni Mitchell, and Wilco. But my first example was, of course, Sgt. Pepper. I contrasted it with the White Album, talking about how they were taking their music in a slightly different direction, how they were struggling as a band, and how those things were reflected in the cover. They got it, they really got it. I was proud to share a little bit of Beatles love with the next generation.

When Mike and I visited New York in 2007, we made our pilgrimage to Strawberry Fields. I don’t want to idolize John Lennon, but his music has had a great impact on me as a person, and I am thankful for that gift and sorry that he had to leave before he could share more of it with us.

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    And though the news was rather sad. – Through a Glass, Darkly

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