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The Day John Lennon Died: A Fan’s Story

December 8, 2013
JLennonNewsweekToday is the The Day John Lennon Died … guest post by Dari Silverman; photos courtesy of Dari Silverman–Dari is in the fuzzy background of the second photo from Newsweek below; second photo by Sydney Strauss.
i had my hands in purple dye when the phone rang.“ dari? did you hear?” it’s my good friend sydney gilner.“hear what?”“sit down i have to tell you something”“ syd…. i can’t. if i don’t keep moving this stuff it won’t dye right and…”“just sit down.” i sit.“john lennon was shot tonight”“THAT’S NOT FUCKING FUNNY, SYDNEY!”“i wish i was kidding..turn on the tv.”i wish i hadn’t. maybe if i hadn’t it would have all been a really bad dream and i could have woken up. i turn on the tv just in time to hear that not only has john lennon been shot… but he is now declared officially dead. the rest of the night is a blur except to know that 2 friends drive to my house from 3 hours away to make sure that i am okay. JLennonbySStraussi’m the person most people i know think of when it comes to the beatles. maybe you’re that person in your group of friends.most people know that i was on that platform at jfk when they arrived in 1964 and went to 5 of their concerts in nyc between 1964-1966. but unlike some of my other friends who eventually went on with life and got over their beatles fixation, it never changed for me.

hell..if my dad could still love frank sinatra 40 years later why does everyone expect us to “get over” our rock and roll heroes? i still don’t get that

i am showing my art work at a show at USC the next day. i stare at the passing kids and wonder how they can be so unaffected…as if the world were still the same place it had been on december 7. i finally see one kid who is obviously upset and he stares at the beatles tee shirt i am wearing that i bought outside of the forest hill tennis stadium show in 1964. he nods and i nod back. but then some spoiled brat of a sorority girl makes a snide comment about john and i rip my work out of her hand. as if i’d let that little bitch own something i created while she’s joking about lennon’s assasination. fat chance. i pack up even though it’s only 1 pm and we are obligated to stay for the rest of the show. fuck’em…..i’m going home. i make a reservation for a flight to nyc. i have to be home for the memorial service in central park and to just be where other fans are going to understand the way i’m feeling.

1463588_10202693695008068_1445494725_nwhen i got home, i hung outside of the dakota with all the rest of the beatles fans, singing songs and taking endlessly about what the beatles meant to us. but being home also handed me another reality. when i tried calling some of the friends i grew up with to share the grief.. girls who had fought over paul with me..who swore eternal devotion to the beatles…who had gone to carnegie hall with me..all had “moved on”. though sad, they were just not affected by john’s death in teh same way that i was. that was like another small death….. part of my childhood dying along with john. i just didn’t get it.

but there were funny moments too. a very NY moment happened when some huge 6’ 6” vulture of a guy came by hawking john lennon buttons. these 2 tiny girls grabbed them and told him that no way was he going to make money off of john’s death and proceeded to throw them under a bus and chase him through central park. to see this 6’6” guy running away from 2 small furious girls made me laugh hysterically. if they hadn’t done it, i would have done it myself…

the day came for the central park memorial and it was beyond weird how the city i grew up in came to a screeching halt for those 10 minutes. nothing…no sound, except for the far off honking of cars looking to move faster through the city.

i looked at those other faces and thought about how much this man was loved. and how much more he could have done with his life and in music.

when it was over i felt more alone than ever. but as i started to walk out of the park i started singing “in my life” and some guy and his friend next to me joined in. it was so corny. like out of a bad hollywood movie. but by the time we got out of the park we had about 20 people walking with us. we walked down 5th avenue from central park south all the way back to washington square (for those of you who don’t know this is about 3 miles of city walking) singing beatles songs with people along the way leaving, others joining in, and everyone clapping as we passed them on our way downtown. it was one of the most amazing experiences i ever had in my city. i finally left the group to walk home. i never got their names and they never got mine. but we made each others’ day i know. and we took a sad song and made it better. if only for that one day……

if you were around on that day….what’s your story?

PS text and images courtesy of Dari Silverman, who is in the fuzzy background of the middle photo…

Photo: a poem some girl handed to people as we were leaving central park after the memorial service for john lennon...december 14. 2013
5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 9, 2013 7:45 pm

    I am so humbled by your story. Though I wasn’t alive when John died, the love you had for him makes me know that the sadness I feel for his passing is justified. Thank you for always loving him.

  2. December 15, 2013 12:46 am

    Thanks for this snapshot of your experience. I wrote about the day John died this year as well ( Sharing our experience of that day is one way to remember him and acknowledge his passing and the loss we all suffered. Well done.

  3. December 27, 2013 9:57 am

    Thank you Hope and Robert! This is Dari’s story, of course, and I’m grateful that she let me share it on my blog with everyone. Thank you Robert for sharing the link to your experience and yes I absolutely agree with your sentiment.

  4. December 27, 2013 8:12 pm

    Thanks Gwendolyn and Dari. In the web’s mad rush to use significant dates and events to find and/or exploit content for publication there were very few articles about John Lennon’s passing that had any substance this year. Dari’s was one of the few exceptions that didn’t feel like an excuse for page views. Loved the poem that was pressed into her hand, and the idea of all those people coming together in their grief – a tragic convergence. Thanks again. R. (logging in through Twitter)

  5. dari silverman permalink
    March 7, 2014 12:33 pm

    on the day you posted this i had flown to florida to see my mom. by the time i returned had totally forgotten that you were going to use this story. so i was shocked when i googled my name (which i have only ever done once before) to see it online. thanks to everyone for the kind comments. glad i could share just one fan’s experience of that tragic event. like most of you stated..”just the facts” about this time can’t begin to let anyone know what it was like to have lived through any life-changing event. i’m always looking for the human side to every story. thanks for thinking miwas worthy of posting, gwendolyn.

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