I stayed home from school on Tuesday, December 9th, 1980 because I had strep throat. That meant I had the house and the television to myself for the entire day. All I watched (or could watch) was coverage of the shooting and killing of John Lennon. I already felt pretty crummy from the strep throat but after watching an entire day’s worth of news coverage about the tragic event, I was miserable.
While my parents loved music, they were not exactly Beatles enthusiasts. My father used to say about Bob Dylan, “Is this guy for real?! Does he really think he can SING?!” And we would answer back, “Dad, you’re talking about BOB DYLAN.” And he would say something like, “Well I don’t care what his name is, his voice is a joke. If you want to hear someone with real talent, you need to put on a Frank Sinatra record. Now THAT guy can sing.” And my mother, even in her late 30’s (which was a lot older then than it is now), still went weak at the knees whenever she listened to Elvis. Luckily for my brothers and me and hundreds or maybe thousands of other students at West Middle School, there was Dave Correll. The One and Only Dave Correll. Because of Dave Correll, we knew who the Beatles were; we knew their music and had sung their songs. I can still remember hearing Eight Days a Week for the first time in his classroom where I took chorus. Dave was a pretty young guy back in 1980 with an incredibly hip music collection and, most importantly of all, a passion for music that for me remains unrivaled to this day.
Going back to school was pretty rough. The world was in mourning over the loss of John Lennon and at West Middle School we were one small part of that worldwide group of mourners, especially those of us in chorus. The older siblings of my friends on the neighborhood were particularly heartsick. I remember a friend’s sister practically crying her eyes out and playing all of her Beatles albums over and over and over again. The silver lining of this part of her mourning was that we younger kids had the chance to hear all the songs and learn all the lyrics that otherwise might have passed us by. God knows, my parents certainly weren’t listing to the Red and Blue albums at home…
THE LENNON REPORT is a look back at the fateful evening of Monday, December 8th, 1980 when John Lennon was shot and killed. How clearly I can still recall the very next day, that Tuesday, December 9th, as I lay on the sofa, home alone, wrapped in a blanket my grandma had made, watching television and feeling so, so blue. For me, Don Maclean’s lyrics from American Pie best explain the sentiment that followed John’s death: “And in the streets the children screamed/The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed/But not a word was spoken/The church bells all were broken… “