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Monday 24 June 2013

Just Starting Over...

I was travelling on the bus to school when I first picked up that John Lennon had died. It was the gossip of breakfast radio. For once, something more real than another saccharine song.  Huddled against my frosty seat window, driving through the sad fringes of town before our descent into school’s inferno, ‘Starting Over’ rang out with a strange poignancy.  Here was a song promising re-beginnings that was being played to mark an end.  I wanted to take the moment home, to hold it close and precious to understand it, like the death of my first cat a year or so ago, but the horrors of the morning playground engulfed my capacity for thought. The chance was gone.

Many years later I ended up in Central Park on the 25th anniversary of Lennon’s death. It was a co-incidence I was there, my first time in New York.  I’d grown up a teenager listening to Lou Reed, so it was Christopher Street my heart was heading, scouting for trouble to the lower east side.  Instead, I stumbled upon the crowds dotted outside the Dakota and joined in the night time procession. Solemnly we walked past the lit candles and messages of love.  There were too many cameras and acoustic guitars, but still, it sensed something in the soul. I went home on the subway, watching an amazing man sing ‘It’s a wonderful world’ from a broken beer bottle for a microphone. He had such an incredible voice, with nothing else in his life beyond the clothes he was wearing. I caught his eye as the train doors steeled shut.  

It would take a long time before I heard Double Fantasy’s interplay between the emotion of Lennon’s English rock and Ono’s Japanese avant garde.  I remember being struck by teh album's fusion of styles, its simplicity and reach.  Its daring to express love. No wonder the critics first hated it.

Last night was the first live performance of Double Fantasy at the Royal Festival Hall; a joyous, moving occasion, that left something grown in the heart. Like the smile of a subway singer on an empty midnight platform, or the first touch of feeling after years of blank ice. A celebration. ‘Well I tell them there's no problem, only solutions…’  Despite the impressive list of vocalists, and the home videos of John Lennon, it was the final entrance of Yoko Ono that stole the night, telling us, in her 80th year, she was very happy.
Life is the biggest dialogue of all.  We have to perform it to explore,  see the end of ourselves to re-begin, starting over and over again.  I guess that's what I thought, as I caught the bus away.

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