Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Remembering John Lennon...In Bermuda

It was 30 years ago today when John Lennon was murdered outside of his New York City home. The former Beatle would’ve been 70-years-old if he were still alive but that doesn’t mean we can’t remember his spirit—or all the time the iconic musician spent in Bermuda. That’s right, folks: Where else do you think he got that groovy T-shirt? Lennon’s time on the island is well-documented, including the CNN reports John Lennon: Living in America and Losing Lennon: Countdown to Murder, both of which discuss a sailing trip the singer took to Bermuda from Rhode Island in the summer of 1980 aboard the 43-foot sloop Megan Jaye. “They got in this big old storm,” said music producer Jack Douglas who told CNN about Lennon’s trip. “This old sailor got really sick. He told John to take the wheel. Torrential rains and waves pounded the boat. Right after this transformative, emotional and physically exhilarating experience on the sailboat he arrived [in Bermuda] with this quiet and this space and it all came through him. John Lennon started making music again.” Making music indeed. After renting a home in Fairylands—a small neighborhood in Pembroke parish—Lennon stayed on the island for several weeks writing songs that would appear on Double Fantasy, his final album named for a Bermuda freesia his four-year-old son Sean spotted while at the Botanical Gardens (listen to the Bermuda Tapes recorded here in June 1980; also, check out this photograph of John and Sean overlooking Spanish Point). “Once I accepted the reality of the situation something greater than me took over and all of a sudden I lost my fear,” Lennon later told then-assistant Fred Seaman of his stormy sail to Bermuda. “I actually began to enjoy the experience and I began to sing and shout old sea shanties in the face of the storm, feeling total exhilaration. I had the time of my life.” Clearly, since Lennon wrote some of his best songs when he got here, even recording some of them with Bermudian drummer Andy Newmark. Lennon joked in the ship’s log that “there’s no place like nowhere,” alluding to Bermuda’s remote mid-Atlantic location, but no doubt it was its beauty that enchanted the singer most.

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