I didn’t plan to write on the blog today until I realised the date of October 9th on the calendar. If you’re as connected with both Twitter and historical dates as me, then you would be reminded that today is John Lennon’s 78th birthday; John lived here on earth long enough to celebrate only his 40th birthday in October of 1980, the remaining birthdays were wasted due to a psychotic asshole having easy access to a gun loaded with six bullets. John Lennon’s killer(his name won’t be included in my post) robbed the world of a great poet and peace activist in addition to a stellar guitarist and songwriter with the ability to inspire. In the five months after John was murdered, there were assasination attempts on both the president(Reagan in March 1981) then and pope(John Paul II in April). The fact that both of these men survived the attempts on their life confirmed my theory that only great men are killed when shot by a gun; George Wallace, Larry Flynt, and Senator Steve Scalise also proved that mediocre men will always survive in a manner that wasn’t the same outcome for John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Harvey Milk, and Congressman Leo Ryan. Yet, I digress when thinking about injustice associated with “God as a concept to measure our pain.” I listened to John Lennon’s song, “God,” from 1970 while laying in bed last night as my girlfriend slept beside me. She had asked earlier in the evening if something was bothering me, and my sour mood was partly due to the death of democracy in my former home known as the United States; I was also feeling a bit of survivor’s guilt from having escaped Trump’s America for a land where his voters don’t reside. Yet, I couldn’t help but to feel a little sad that John Lennon wasn’t alive to celebrate his 78th birthday for today. As his song “God” informs the listener who has been told that John doesn’t believe in the Beatles and isn’t the Walrus anymore, he leaves these brutal and parting words: “So, dear friends, you’ll just have to carry on. The dream is over.” The dream is over, but the dreamer is still alive. In fact, he is also celebrating a birthday on October 9th.
Before escaping from the USA, I was fortunate enough to experience my last film being a documentary of Mr. Fred Rogers entitled “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” while my final concert was Jackson Browne at the outdoor venue of Ravinia in Highland Park, Illinois. Jackson played two sets of his timeless songs about life/death, love, and politics. The first set contained three songs reiterating the major themes of Jackson’s work since 1972 with the first being an unreleased song entitled “The Dreamer.” The song traces the journey of a Mexican immigrant who traveled to the USA for employment and to escape the poverty of his hometown across the border. In a sense, I am an immigrant who escaped Trump’s America where there is a poverty of critical thinking, tolerance, compassion, and ethics in government. Although I am residing in England where two of my ancestors lived until becoming passengers on the Mayflower ship in November of 1620 to seek their religious freedom in a new land, my journey has been to seek freedom from religion in a nation that lost its moral compass. The “dreamer” of Jackson Browne’s song is my brother from another mother in the poetic sense; we are trying to improve our lives before death will inevitably occur. The second song to demonstrate Jackson’s lyrical themes was about death itself; “For a Dancer” was written in 1974 after Jackson’s young friend, Scott, was killed in an apartment fire in Los Angeles. I couldn’t help but to think about my mother who died from cancer on July 10, 2017 in Chicago. I mentioned to my cousin who sat next to me at the concert that it is only through someone’s death that I am able to start a new life. The experience of leaving for a better outcome of circumstances was expressed in the third song, “For Everyman,” that closed the first set of music from Jackson and his band. “Everybody who I talk to is ready to leave with the light of the morning. They’ve seen the end coming down long enough to believe they’ve heard their last warning. Standing alone each has his own ticket in his hand. And as the evening descends, I sit thinking about everyman.” I am thinking about John Lennon and Jackson Browne on their birthdays, and they’re both extraordinary men for writing the songs that allow us to think, feel, and dream. Thank you to the birthday boys of October 9th for their music and inspiring imagination.