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VOA - Voice of America


"Strawberry Fields" is a peaceful spot in Central Park dedicated to John Lennon's memory, a mere 50 or so meters from the Upper West Side apartment building where he lived and died. The usual gaggle of tourists and fans are sitting on benches, some in contemplation, others in song.

Three decades ago, a deranged fan was able to get close enough to the musician to shoot him. The murder shocked the city and the world. Rock and roll photographer Bob Gruen, who knew John Lennon well as a friend, says the pain from that shock can last a lifetime.

"When you get a deep wound, eventually the wound heals but you still have scar and if you touch the scar you still feel the pain. And so it's something like that where you never get over it but you eventually get used to it. He didn't really say things that people didn't know. In fact, what he said was everybody does know, but he said it in a very simple, easy-to-understand way. He just had a magical way of expressing things."

John Lennon wrote the melancholy song "In My Life" during the Beatles' earlier days. Its tone is in sharp contrast with the saccharine lyrics that were typical for boy groups at the time.

Reporter Larry Kane, the author of "Lennon Revealed," got to know the Beatle during the band's American tours.

"John Lennon was a man who was very embittered and angry most of his life. He was born to a father who was never around, a mother who disappeared mostly. He had a best friend who died of a brain hemmorage at the age of 20. But he was also on the flip side of all that, all the drugs and all the problems. He was also one of the most extraordinary people I have ever met, in terms of his ability to overcome those demons that lurked inside of him and produce beautiful music and beautiful poetry... and beautiful writing."

Lennon often used his fame to make a point in theatrical ways. This is "Give Peace A Chance," which he and Yoko Ono recorded in the early 1970s in a Montreal hotel room with their friends during the couple's weeklong Bed-In for Peace.

All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

A watershed moment for Lennon came in 1971, when he left his native England and settled in New York City with her wife Yoko Ono. Photographer Bob Gruen says Lennon saw the Big Apple as the world's artistic and cultural center, and felt he could be almost anonymous here.

"You know, in England, people would chase him down the street and get hysterical when they saw him. But in New York, people see famous people a lot. But you know, we're kind of busy, and everybody's got somewhere to go. So he could go to the corner store, buy a newspaper, and go into the espresso shop and have a coffee and read the paper, and people wouldn't bother him so much. You know, he could take a taxicab. He was like a normal person here."

In 1975, when he was 35 years old, Lennon stopped writing and recording music. And for five years settled in the life as a house-husband and dedicated father to the couple's young child, Sean. Yoko handled his multi-million dollar music business. This reversal of gender roles was in itself unusual for that era. In 1980, the couple recorded and released a new album called "Double Fantasy." Its hit single, "Starting Over," proved to be John Lennon's last.

It's been too long since we took the time
No-one's to blame, I know time flies so quickly
But when I see you darling
It's like we both are falling in love again
It'll be just like starting over, starting over

Everything we used to make it love
Why can't we be making love nice and easy
It's time to spread our wings and fly
Don't let another day go by my love
It'll be just like starting over, starting over
Starting over

Source: VOA - Voice of America

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