John Lennon was right then, and he's right now: All you need is love.
Instead we get saber-rattling from the powerful and fear-mongering from the weak.
I remember where I was when Mark David Chapman gunned him down...four shots, 31 years ago today.
The Nowhere Man had left his band already, and he'd moved to New York because he could blend in more. This is a town where even the most famous among us can hide in plain sight...at least most of the time.
I was living in the nowhere between Chelsea, before it really was, and the West Village, in a tiny one-bedroom with a working brick fireplace. Now I live in half the space at three-times the price and I have a deal, trust me. And trust me, neither I nor pretty much anyone else is making three times as much.
I remember going to vigil at Strawberry Fields that December, too, and shooting a few minutes of 8mm silent footage. I have it somewhere, packed up with a chunk of my personal past out in Los Angeles. I haven't looked at it for years. But I remember its close-ups of all those young, loving, sad faces-brought together again by the man who made the music for a generation.
Remember Love, said a sign I saw.
I thought at the time, already sinking into the cynicism of the 80s that looks like innocence untouched compared to what has followed, that I would forget.
And I did from time to time. We all do, that is the gift of living a life a bit longer than John Lennon's few short years. Age bestows perspective, and forgetfulness, on a person.
But the one truest thing the man, and the Beatles, ever said always comes back. It returns to consciousness in those still, solitary moments that come in the fullness of times, both very good and very bad. The times between times of bustle and distraction, the striving for or the toughing out.
Its haunting refrain lingers. It's just a hint of a soundtrack, echoing in the mind, during bad times--when jobs go bad, when plans go awry, when the forces of excess and misfortune combine to lead us to the brink, collectively as a nation, or as a world--or in our own little, personal lives.
And it comes back in the quiet in the fullness of good times, too. In those moments of relaxation after completing a great deal, or any successful achievement. But if you don't have love in your life, who do you celebrate that with? What have you really got? Even if you've gained the world, without love you never really have what you need.
If you do have love, the refrain lingers, a reminder that it is the only thing that ever really matters, no matter what the prize won.
Or lost, it reminds you then, too. Having love in your heart, not just for one but for all, is something that doesn't bend from pain or suffering, that is forever fixed and can't be removed by worldly struggle or loss, but always endures.
So here's to John, who faced the storm, and reminded us that all you need is love.