"A Drag, Isn't It?": A Short Tribute To John Lennon

34 years ago on this date John Lennon got murdered by the hand of a deranged lunatic.

The devastating news broke on December 8th 1980…

Earlier that day Lennon did a photoshoot with photographer Annie Leibovitz for Rolling Stone magazine. Although Rolling Stone initially wanted Lennon alone on the cover, he insisted he should be on with Yoko. In an attempt to sort of recreate the Double Fantasy record cover, Leibovitz had Lennon strip to the bone and curl up next to Yoko who was fully clothed and captured one of the couple’s most iconic images and Rolling Stone’s most famous covers.

A few hours before the shooting occured, Lennon signed an autograph for Mark David Chapman, who had been waiting outside the Dakota apartment building the whole day. Photographer Paul Goresh captured that scene.

Chapman was a lunatic who after becoming a born-again Christian, he turned on the Beatles and Lennon, who used to idolize. He was angry at John’s “blasphemous” comments about Jesus and how he would “preach love and peace but yet have millions…”

"I would listen to this music and I would get angry at him, for saying that he didn’t believe in God… and that he didn’t believe in the Beatles. This was another thing that angered me, even though this record had been done at least 10 years previously. I just wanted to scream out loud, ‘Who does he think he is, saying these things about God and heaven and the Beatles?’ Saying that he doesn’t believe in Jesus and things like that. At that point, my mind was going through a total blackness of anger and rage. So I brought the Lennon book home, into this The Catcher in the Rye milieu where my mindset is Holden Caulfield and anti-phoniness.”

The weekend of the murder and Chapman’s mindset were captured in the 2007 film, Chapter 27, with Jared Leto as Chapman .

Paul McCartney was heavily criticized about the “it’s a drag” comment, upon the news of his friend’s death, though in the video footage he seems clearly tipsy and off-balanced. A few years later he answered about it in an interview for Playboy magazine.

What happened was we heard the news that morning and, strangely enough, all of us—the three Beatles, friends of John’s—all of us reacted in the same way. Separately. Everyone just went to work that day. All of us. Nobody could stay home with that news. We all had to go to work and be with people we knew. Couldn’t bear it. We just had to keep going. So I went in and did a day’s work in a kind of shock. And as I was coming out of the studio later, there was a reporter, and as we were driving away, he just stuck the microphone in the window and shouted, “What do you think about John’s death?” I had just finished a whole day in shock and I said, “It’s a drag.” I meant drag in the heaviest sense of the word, you know: “It’s a—drag.” But, you know, when you look at that in print, it says, “Yes, it’s a drag.” Matter of fact.

His song Here Today on his 1982 album Tug Of War is about Lennon. That and a few other old tribute songs to John Lennon are included in the short playlist that follows.

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