I’m a Beatles fan.
I know everyone says that. I mean, how could you not like the Beatles?
But I’m a serious Beatles fan.
I have every Beatles album. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen A Hard Day’s Night. I have every John Lennon album. I have every Paul McCartney album. I have (nearly) every George Harrison album. And I like Ringo.
I even got a peace tattoo when I was 18 because I adored The Beatles’ idea of All You Need is Love and John and Yoko’s mantra of giving peace a chance and staying in bed (The latter is something I’m always working on).
Visiting the Dakota building in New York was something I wanted to do to pay my respects to John Lennon. Most people know it as the place he lived for seven years with Yoko and Sean, and the place he took his last footsteps in 1980 before being shot and killed by Mark David Chapman.
I had a clear idea of what to expect from visiting the Dakota. I knew I’d be walking among New York’s elite on the Upper West side (That area is way too posh for me); I knew there’d probably be people outside taking pictures; And I knew I’d recognise it straight away from a thousand and one late night screenings of Rosemary’s Baby.
I also had an idea of what my reaction to actually being there would be.
I imagined it to look something like my girl Cerena’s …
However, my reaction was actually something like this …
The truth of the matter is that a strange feeling came over me when I crossed the street and stood in front of the Dakota. The large looming entrance where John collapsed sent shivers down me and I couldn’t bring myself to take my camera out and snap away.
I sat against the wall in silence, thinking about how it had been just over 32 years since it happened and even though the building itself is an iconic piece of history which I should have been happy to explore and go over in detail, I couldn’t get my mind away from how unfair the world can be at times and how many people get taken away from us before their time. (Case in point: The day after I left New York, the awful Boston bombings happened.)
I knew this wasn’t the right time to start feeling morbid but John died a few years before I was born and, while I grew up listening to the Beatles and always having them in my life, this was my first chance to really reflect on the tragedy that occurred.
I know I’ll be back again some day and will then get a chance to really enjoy the moment of being in front of this beautiful piece of architecture but, for now, I’m happy to have done what I did and paid my respects to John in my own silent, reflective way.
A whole new atmosphere emerged: Crowds of people talking and laughing gathered; Music played; Hippies greeted visitors while showing off the records, badges and postcards they had to sell. Everyone was happy, smiling, and feeling a deep sense of easiness.
It was as though John and the Beatles’ message of love and kindness had transferred all its energy into this little spot in Central Park.
Crowds gathered around the black and white Imagine mosaic, laid to commemorate John’s memory and evoke the vision he longed to see: A world without war and conflict.
John’s vision for the world might not have come true yet but for a few hours in those little 2.5 acres, everyone felt that peace.