John Lennon's Death, 29 Years Later

Paul McCartney puts a friendlier light on a tumultuous friendship, while others invoke Lennon's legacy of peace

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Is John Lennon bigger now than ever before? Twenty-nine years ago this day, he was shot and killed in New York City by a crazed fan. With the country mired in war and weighing climate change fixes, on this anniversary commentators are invoking Lennon's message of peace, and his cultural legacy. Fellow Beatle Paul McCartney has also come forward to cast a friendlier light on their tumultuous relationship. Here's how he's being remembered across the Web:

  • "All We Are Saying Is Cut Greenhouse Gas!" writes Matthew McDermott at Treehugger, reporting from Copenhagen: "The spirit of John Lennon took over the Bella Center in Copenhagen this afternoon, if only briefly. On the anniversary of John Lennon's assassination a group of twenty young people from the Youth Climate Coalition staged a 'Bed-In', assembling in their pajamas and singing a variation of the classic 'Give Peace a Chance'. The new lyrics had a more COP15 theme... 'All we are saying is give youth a chance!' They sang in tune, if not always unison. 'All we are saying is cut greenhouse gas!'"
  • A Lasting Messenger of Peace, writes Amy Beth Arkawy at The News Junkie Post: "Lennon's legacy for peace, captured in beautiful and profound simplicity: 'War is over. If we want it,' is as relevant today as it was all those years ago. It's still hard to believe anyone was ever threatened by such a powerful and loving message. Events like Band Aid and Farm Aid and artists from Bono to Springtsteen, R.E.M. to the Indigo Girls, Mellencamp to the Dixie Chicks all owe a debt to Lennon's audacity, conscience and spirit."
  • Rethinking John and Paul's Relationship In an interview with the Times of London on Saturday, McCartney said he reconciled his relationship with John, defying widely-held rumors that Lennon and McCartney were at odds until the end. McCartney describes eulogizing Lennon in song: "Yeah, we were mates. God, that was so cool. It was the saving grace. Because it got a bit sticky after the Beatles. No, we were really good mates again -- it was lovely, actually. Performing this song, in New York, where he was killed, is a very emotional affair. The last verse, where I sing 'and if I said I really loved you, and was glad you came along' ... Jesus, it's like singing it to your dad who died." Asked if they would have collaborated together, McCartney responded, ""Had he lived it might have happened, there was a mellowing. It could have been pretty interesting."
  • It's About "Yearning Our Past Selves," writes Colin Horgan at True/Slant: "Lennon said that he didn't believe in Beatles. That's cool, but the problem is that everyone else did. And they believed in Lennon, too, just like they believed in [Michael] Jackson. Invariably, when we remember Lennon's death or Cobain's or Jackson's, we're just convincing ourselves that the nostalgia we've constructed in our minds is grounded somewhere in reality. Remembering Lennon is about yearning for our past selves - the way we thought we were. And this is why we keep revisiting it, even when the anniversary isn't divisible by ten."
  • Ushered in the End of an Era, observes music writer David Hansen: "There are very few axis figures in 20th century music, and Lennon is certainly the most shining of those great beacons--a musician who, with his work and lifes and his mythology, effectively divided the 20th century into pre-Lennon and post-Lennon epochs. Like a ripple in history, Lennon's presence is still keenly observed."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.