A Day in the Life
by Bill Cameron
Very early on the morning of December 9, 1980, I awoke from a troubling dream. I can’t remember the dream itself, just that it had left me unsettled and anxious. It was shortly after four, and I didn’t have to be up for another two-and-a-half hours. The house was dark and quiet, so I reached over to the clock radio on my nightstand and twisted the snooze knob. Thirty minutes of tunes should be enough to knock me out again. Dreamless this time, I hoped.
I read the news today, oh boy…
I doubt it was the first time I heard “A Day in the Life.” I was a senior in high school, too young to have experienced the Beatles in real time — but everyone had heard The Beatles. Still, my bands were Pink Floyd and Queen. I didn’t own a single Beatles album. Hell, in 1980, I was more familiar with Band on the Run than Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
So when John Lennon sang that first line, it wasn’t exactly new to me, but it may have been the first time I really listened to it. I remember staring at the fluid shadows of a hanging plant cast by the moon through the window curious as the melodious beginning took that first sudden turn.
…but I just had to look,
Having read the book…
As the song continued, I began to feel peaceful, floating there in my bed. The unsettled dream was still there, but it was fading in the music, a sound as soft as dew. Then the song changed again, now into something breathless and soulful — Lennon’s voice without words. It struck me that he was crying — and my unencumbered ear heard it — crying aloud about something you can never stop crying about. And as I listened — the violins, the wordless tune, the voice in the dark, all wrapped in moon shadows — I felt a shiver up my back and a sudden hole in my gut. For a moment all I knew and all I had ever known were those sounds. They reached inside and plucked a chord that was to resonate within me again and again for years to come.
…and somebody spoke, and I went into a dream…
There, alone in the dark, I realized that no matter how many times I heard “A Day in the Life” afterwards — and it would be thousands of times — it would never be the same. That moment was gone. I couldn’t give the song back, couldn’t un-hear the music.
When the music ended, the DJ come on to say he would be playing the Beatles throughout the night in memory of John Lennon, who’d been killed just a few hours earlier.