High Times Greats: Channeling John Lennon

in Culture

John Lennon died December 8, 1980. In his honor, we’re republishing a lost interview by Paul Krassner, which originally appeared in the December, 1998 issue of High Times.

December is the anniversary of John Lennon’s death, and that always makes me feel like reminiscing about him. I remember a moment of epiphany at Shea Stadium in 1964 while the Beatles were singing, even though I couldn’t hear them above the screaming of the crowd. I realized that the four mop-tops were not only filling a certain void left by the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but also that the audience could identify with a Beatle in a far more personal way than they had identified with the President. It was summed up by a young girl holding aloft a hand-lettered poster that said, “It’s All Right, John—I Wear Glasses Too!”

During the next five years, the Beatles took us along on their musical journey from youthful innocence to psychedelic awareness, from “I wanna hold your hand” to “I’d love to turn you on.” In 1967, the Summer of Love, a friend gave me a hit of LSD and a stereo headset with Sgt. Pepper playing and I experienced some kind of spiritual orgasm—reassured, after all, that I was not the only Martian on my block.

I recall walking along the sidewalk one afternoon in 1968, passing house after house, listening to radio after radio, all playing “Hey Jude,” so that I didn’t miss a note. And then, that night, hearing it again at the Electric Circus on New York’s Lower East Side, accompanied by what can only be described as free-form tribal dancing. “Take a sad song and make it better” became the unofficial credo of a burgeoning counterculture.

One night on my radio show in San …

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Author: High Times / High Times

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