I had the gift of recording with John Lennon on the album Double Fantasy. In early September of 1980 I received a call from Stan Vincent, a contractor from Musicians Union Local No. 3, for a recording session the next day.
I play the English concertina, a small chromatic bellowed instrument. At that time in my life I was working on trying to make a small living as a musician, primarily playing in French and Italian restaurants around New York. I also had the opportunity to do a few jingles and recording sessions and to play in a show orchestra. It was a wonderful time to be youn, struggling artist in New York.
I was delighted to arrive and be ushered into the recording studio only to meet producer Jack Douglas and of course John Lennon. It was all I could do to keep my composure and not let the amazement of the moment overwhelm the fact that this was a really good gig and there was an expectation of my musical abilities. I spent the next couple of hours focused intensely on an overdub for the track Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy). (An overdub is when a musician lays a recording track down on an already larger track).
Afterwards I was introduced to Yoko Ono and several others in the studio. I packed up my instrument, shook John and Jacks hands once more, and floated into the streets of Midtown Manhattan. Months later Johns life was taken from his family and the world. It was as devastating to my generation as the assasinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. I look back now on that time and how it affected me as an artist and a person. It was hard at first to want to capitalize on such an opportunity afforded me.
Though I was merely an apostrophe to a footnote of musics history, I still was nonetheless part of it. Thirty years have passed. We left the generation of Ask not what you can do to become a nation of Am I better off than I was four years ago? We honor those who fight our battles but disassociate ourselves from the social, physical and economic devastations of war. John and Yoko made us look at the alternatives to todays moral malaise and asked us to become empathetic and engaged. Instead of reacting with force and annihilation, we should look for a peaceful way to answer the needs of conflict. Instead of saying dont raise my taxes and take from me, all we need to do is be considerate and love and care for others as much as we do ourselves. Its not too late to start your life over and make good on the promises and mistakes of that past. And life happens anyway no matter how much we work and plan.
John Lennon showed us that one can constantly recreate oneself and adapt to the needs of society and learn to appreciate living together. One can always start over, learn from who they were and concentrate on what they will be. Like John and Yoko, I started a family and the chance to turn the legacy of growing up with the music and people from the era of Love and Peace into the poetry of my childrens life. In todays insanity its not such a bad lesson to be learned. All we have to do is come together.
The writer lives in Alexandria and is a member of Ain Lanu Zman, a performing arts group.