At around 10:50 pm on 8 December 1980, as Lennon and Ono returned to their New York apartment in The Dakota, Mark David Chapman shot Lennon in the back four times at the entrance to the building. Rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:07 pm.
His impact on music is unfathomable. His murder is one of the greatest injustices of all time, certainly the most tragic moment in music history. Lennon’s legend lives on through his timeless songs, and his outspoken activism. His message was peace and love, written with the virtues of honesty and respect for humanity.
October 9th of this year would have been his 70th Birthday.
Many will remember John’s flirtations with world religions, and even his pantheist stance that evolved from those earlier journeys. By the time the Beatles disbanded, he was a confirmed non-believer. Most people are familiar with his treatment of this topic in Imagine. However, many fans are unfamiliar with another song that explored his position on religion in much greater detail.
Lyrics from ‘God‘ off of his 1970 album, “Plastic Ono Band”
God is a concept by which we can measure our pain…
I don’t believe in magic, I don’t believe in I-ching,
I don’t believe in bible, I don’t believe in tarot,
I don’t believe in Hitler, I don’t believe in Jesus,
I don’t believe in Kennedy, I don’t believe in Buddha,
I don’t believe in mantra, I don’t believe in Gita,
I don’t believe in yoga, I don’t believe in kings,
I don’t believe in Elvis, I don’t believe in Zimmerman,
I don’t believe in Beatles…
I just believe in me, Yoko and me, and that’s reality.’
1971 interview by Tariq Ali and Robin Blackburn:
Tariq Ali: Your latest record and your recent public statements, especially the interviews in Rolling Stone magazine, suggest that your views are becoming increasingly radical and political. When did this start to happen?
John Lennon: … In my case I’ve never not been political, though religion tended to overshadow it in my acid days; that would be around ’65 or ’66. And that religion was directly the result of all that superstar shit–religion was an outlet for my repression. I thought, ‘Well, there’s something else to life, isn’t there? This isn’t it, surely?’
Later in the interview:
… At one time I was so much involved in the religious bullshit that I used to go around calling myself a Christian Communist, but as Janov says, religion is legalised madness. It was therapy that stripped away all that and made me feel my own pain.
… Well, his thing is to feel the pain that’s accumulated inside you ever since your childhood. I had to do it to really kill off all the religious myths. In the therapy you really feel every painful moment of your life–it’s excruciating, you are forced to realise that your pain, the kind that makes you wake up afraid with your heart pounding, is really yours and not the result of somebody up in the sky. It’s the result of your parents and your environment.
As I realised this it all started to fall into place. This therapy forced me to have done with all the God shit. All of us growing up have come to terms with too much pain. Although we repress it, it’s still there. The worst pain is that of not being wanted, of realising your parents do not need you in the way you need them.
… Most people channel their pain into God or masturbation or some dream of making it.
… It’s a bit of a drag to say so, but I don’t think you can understand this unless you’ve gone through it–though I try to put some of it over on the album. But for me at any rate it was all part of dissolving the God trip or father-figure trip. Facing up to reality instead of always looking for some kind of heaven.