Saturday, December 08, 2007

All Those Years Ago...
A look back at Time Magazine's Dec. 22, 1980 issue...

ON PAGE FIVE, there's an article about the little town of Plains, Georgia, and how things there never changed all that much in spite of the fact that it's the hometown of soon-to-be former President Jimmy Carter. On page 17, there's a story about the then-current Iran Hostage crisis, in which the 400th day in captivity of 52 Americans is observed; it would be 44 more days before they were freed. Turning to page 54, I find an article titled "The Seven Lean Years", which laments record oil prices, with 1980's final price increase projected to reach $30 dollars a barrel. That's THIRTY dollars.

FLIPPING BACK TO PAGE 39, I see a photo of India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev standing side by side at an official reception, and Brezhnev looks even more unfriendly than Russia's current President, Vladdy Putin (who "oozes" KGB). On page 36 is positioned an article about Poland's then-(and probably still) tenuous relationship with the U.S.S.R., and a photo of Solidarity Union Leader Lech Walesa givin' 'em hell; no one ever hears about Walesa anymore.

OVER IN THE "PEOPLE" SECTION, on page 71, comedian/actor John Belushi is shown posing upon a high ridgetop in a still from the movie, "Continental Divide". Sounds like a movie that came and went pretty fast; I never heard much about it. And, an 81-year old James Cagney, one of the most famous actors ever, is pictured along with others in the artistic community who were slated to receive 'lifetime awards' from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

FAST-FORWARDING TO PAGE 90, "TIME" record (that's RECORD) critic Jay Cocks writes about New Music Releases which would be great for holiday gift-giving; featured are such new albums as Bruce Springsteen's "The River", Stevie Wonder's "Hotter Than July", Blondie's "AutoAmerican" (the one with "The Tide Is High"), Steely Dan's "Gaucho" and "The Eagles: Live". All hot new releases, back then. No mention of Compact Discs, either. Those wouldn't happen for another 3 or 4 years. Those are all fine records, but my favorite of those new late-1980 albums he mentioned was "Remain In Light", a really wild album by the Talking Heads.

IN THE "LETTERS" SECTION, one of the subjects is a recent TIME article about the then-current morning TV shows. One letter-writer disagrees with the magazine; her reply stated that "Jane Pauley is an excellent news reader...and Tom Brokaw is far from frosty. He's competent and likable." Hmmm. Pauley and Brokaw. How about that. Written waaay before anyone had any idea who Bryant Gumbel is/was. You want 'frosty'? Gumbel was an ICE CUBE.

BUT MOSTLY, THE DECEMBER 22nd, 1980 issue of "TIME" Magazine (then priced at $1.50 a copy) was achingly noteworthy for another event altogether...

JOHN LENNON was gunned down in New York City, December 8th, 1980; 27 years ago today. And you know, it still feels like it happened yesterday. I remember reading the old book, "The Day Lincoln Was Shot", and a line uttered by the attending physician at Lincoln's bedside, immediately after the President died was, "now he belongs to the ages"...for some reason, that line stuck with me, and I guess it can be applied to Lennon as well. It's not that Lennon was any kind of great musician; he wasn't; but he belonged to us. I never really expected the Beatles to reunite, but was great to hear new Lennon music; the "Double Fantasy" album was released in October 1980, following a 5-year silence, a sort of self-imposed "exile" from the spotlight. After all these years, I still feel like he was 'taken away' from us. And it still makes me sad.

THE BEATLES had split apart 10 years before Lennon died; in that time, I'd come to enjoy their solo stuff; I was a fan of many then-current bands, so I wasn't one of those who obsessed on the Beatles getting back together; indeed, they all seemed to be doing just fine as separate entities. I just wish Lennon had lived; from all accounts, in late 1980, he was just getting re-started; he planned a whole lot of musical things to come, but unfortunately, never to be.

MANY OF JOHN'S 'solo' songs, such as "Imagine", "Mind Games", "Power To The People", "Happy Xmas", "#9 Dream" and "Instant Karma" were easily as vital to popular music as any Beatles' music. I re-acquainted myself with his "Imagine" album a couple of months ago, and it's One Great Album. It's almost a masterpiece. Maybe it is. It would have been fascinating to see where his music would've taken him, what he would have sung about. Perhaps music is an intangible thing, but it truly is the soundtrack of our lives...which explains the worldwide public reaction to his death.

MY OWN FEELINGS ON THIS: John Lennon was Mercilessly Taken Away From Us. How cruel. How insane. I Will Never Forget. I Can't. Those bullets fired on a December night 27 years ago took more than the life of one man; a piece of all of us was killed that night. I still feel rage and sadness when I think about it. The passing of George Harrison 6 years ago, however, serves to put everything more or less in its place. Two Beatles are gone now. Had Lennon lived, he'd currently be 67. Many musicians younger than that have died from natural causes. George Harrison was 58. Paul's still going strong, but frankly, I'm a little weary of the way he constantly promotes himself all of the time, like he's still got to prove something. Ringo, from all accounts, is having a good time and enjoying himself. Good for you, Richie.

THE BEATLES' GROUP AND SOLO MUSIC provided a sense of joy and melodic wonder which helped all of us fans to momentarily escape the drudgery of our everyday lives and go along for the ride; for that alone, I could never thank them enough. Their music, as a group and as solo artists has brought me countless hours of enjoyment for many years; the music lives on, and I'm glad it does. I've always wanted to thank all of the musicians who created such great songs for me to listen to. And if it was possible, I would first thank all of The Beatles, then I'd go from there. And, later on today, I'll play Lennon's "Shaved Fish" (greatest hits album)'s a custom with me. And I'll remember.


I still have my original copy of TIME magazine, that I bought in December, 1980...All Those Years Ago.


Blogger Silver Valley Girl said...

I was a senior in high school in 1980. If memory serves me correctly, I took a bus trip to southern Idaho for State Drama Festival that December, and knew on that trip that John Lennon had been shot. I also seemed to remember pretending to have our own hostage crisis on the bus, because of the long, long bus ride to Pocatello, I believe it was. Thanks for the 1980 flashback. That was interesting.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

There's no good way to get from Northern Idaho to Southern Idaho, and I'd sure hate to travel all that way in a BUS! I rode from CDA to Portland (and back) one year in a bus...that was enough for me.

8:37 PM  

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