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(photo credit: AP)
If you're old enough to have once had a favorite Beatle, then you probably know that today - Dec. 8 - is the 25th anniversary of the day John Lennon was murdered. For many people in the 40-and-over age range, that day was the first one in which we experienced a where-were-you-when-you-heard moment.
John Lennon, first as a Beatle, then later as a New York-based singer/songwriter teamed up with wife Yoko Ono, was an icon whose importance in contemporary music cannot be overstated. It was hard not to feel a personal sense of loss when he was suddenly gunned down outside his home at the Dakota on Central Park West in Manhattan. I grew up just 20 blocks away from that building and I remember walking by there after school with my friends, hoping to catch a glimpse of him (preferably without Yoko), never dreaming that he would be killed right next to the spot where so many came to wish him well. It's almost as hard to take in the fact that 25 years have passed since that day, but they have and the anniversary is being commemorated around the world, including right here in Israel.
The biggest organized celebration is at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque at midnight. A group called Progrock is sponsoring a program of rarely seen Beatles films and clips, including footage of them performing in Japan on their last world tour, and also of their first American tour. There will be a screening of Gimme Some Truth, a documentary about the making of John Lennon's Imagine album, directed by avant-garde filmmakers Jonas Mekas and Andrew Solt. The program will be hosted DJ MosheL and will last about three-and-a-half hours.
There will be some special programming on television, although not nearly as much as you'd hope. Yes 2 is broadcasting the 1994 Backbeat tonight at 6:10 p.m. It's a fictional account of the Beatles' early days performing in Hamburg, and focuses on John Lennon's relationship with Stu Sutcliffe, his childhood friend. Ian Hart is excellent as the young John. At 1 a.m., Starworld features what is billed as A Tribute to John Lennon, while Channel Eight is showing a documentary called The Beatles' Biggest Secrets at 11:20 p.m.
If none of these tributes work for you, then you can rent some videos or DVDs about Lennon and the Beatles. The easiest documentary to get hold of is Imagine: John Lennon (1988), a Yoko-approved film directed by Andrew Solt that features great clips of Lennon, interviews with those who knew him and a great deal of home movie footage provided by his widow. Another option would be to rent some of the Beatlesâ€š classic movies, such as A Hard Day's Night (1964), a faux-documentary look at the early days of the Beatles, which many still believe to be the best rock movie ever made, or the 1965 Help!, which features the Beatles playing themselves in a slightly dated but still charming madcap Sixties caper. John briefly flirted with acting and you may be able to find a DVD of his one role in a mainstream picture, How I Won The War (1967), in which he played a Cockney soldier in World War II, for which he received mostly favorable reviews. All three films were directed by Richard Lester. Magical Mystery Tour (1967), is a fantasy musical and Let It Be (1970) is a look behind-the-scenes at the making of that record album. Although John Lennon didn't provide the speaking voice for his character in Yellow Submarine (1968), he did do his own singing, and this cartoon musical is as fresh and inventive today as it was when it was first released. Children will love it, although it might be too intense for the under-eight set.
Of course, you can always just put on your Lennon and Beatles CDs and dream back to the days when Lennon was alive and imagine that you're listening to an actual performance.
Or imagine anything else...
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