Why John Lennon Had to Go by Leslie Bohem

Why John Lennon Had to Go

Alex knew that he had caught a glimpse of something magic in rock and roll. Seen something he could take and do that was like a ritual secret. He wondered how much of that magic had to do with slow dances and teenage crushes. His teenage crushes had been as awful as everybody else’s and slow, sad songs were still his favorites. Music was obviously more important to people his age than it had been to his parents’ generation or his son’s. Maybe it was just that it reminded him and his contemporaries of their youth and it was youth that was more important to them than anything else. Whatever it was, he knew that in some very deep way, it was music that had changed him.

Once a long time ago, on his twenty-third birthday, he had been in a club in Los Angeles. On all his birthdays since he’d been fifteen, he had looked at the backs of all his favorite albums, reading the ages of all the guys in the bands to make sure that there was still hope for him. Now, on his twenty-third birthday, he’d left most of these young men far behind. He felt old for the first time, not so much old really as aware that things were probably not going to work out all that perfectly. He was having a drink at the bar with one of his friends when John Lennon came in with a small entourage. They went over to the pinball machine and started to play. The whole bar got kind of quiet, everyone trying to be cool, to take in the Presence without acting stupid. In the silence, unusually for a Sunset Strip bar, you could hear the music from the band downstairs and the sound of a blender and a cash register from the bar. You could hear Lennon, laughing and cursing as he lost one ball after the next.

Alex always told the story that he had walked up to the ex-Beatle and said, “It’s my birthday and I just wanted to tell you that you ruined my life. You, personally, were the one.” What did that mean? That his love for the Beatles had started him on the road to rock and roll ruin. The way Alex told the story, and with the people to whom he told it, that was self-evident. But it wasn’t true. In fact he’d just stared at his hero, and it was only several years later, when things had gotten much more obviously hopeless for him, that he thought how great it would have been to have done that and had added the story to his repertoire, using it to illustrate a point.




Les Bohem has written a lot of movies and TV shows including A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5, The Horror Show, Twenty Bucks, Daylight, Dante’s Peak, The Alamo, Kid, Nowhere To Run, The Darkest Hour and the mini-series, Taken, which he wrote and executive produced with Steven Spielberg, and for which he won an Emmy award. He’s had songs recorded by Emmylou Harris, Randy Travis, Freddy Fender, Steve Gillette, Johnette Napolitano (of Concrete Blonde), and Alvin (of the Chipmunks. He is currently producing his series, Shut Eye, starring Jeffrey Donovan, KaDee Strickland, Angus Sampson and Isabella Rossellini for Hulu.


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