The Day I Came THIS CLOSE To Sort Of Meeting John Lennon

Was I going through a period of temporary insanity back in 1973? Had the gates regulating the flow of my positive emotions gotten stuck in the closed position? Well, yeah, that’s not too far off the mark I guess. It was a long time ago, and I have trouble enough figuring out the current status of my state of being. But I’m not totally clueless when it comes to identifying where I was at, mentally and emotionally speaking, in my days of yore.

Photo by Bob Gruen

Yes, my recollections may be on the spotty side. Still, there’s no denying the fact that my brother Richie and I were standing on Broome Street (in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood) one morning or afternoon in May or June of 1973, when John Lennon, unaccompanied and moving briskly, walked past us. I was living in SoHo, and Richie, a student at Columbia University, resided way uptown.

Out of the corner of my eye I’d noticed Lennon approaching. Richie saw him too. Yet we were blasé about the situation. Neither of us made eye contact with or said hello to the guy we’d worshipped, who had been one of our ultimate heroes only a couple of years before.

I won’t speak for Richie, but I will for myself. “Yo, schmuck! What the hell was wrong with you, Neil?” I just heard myself asking myself.

Hey, give me a break! I was (pretty) young.

I recall this incident every great once in a while, but hadn’t in ages until Thursday of last week. As I was brushing away that morning’s breakfast, hardened like cement on my teeth, Lennon’s song One Day (At A Time) came on the radio and, for reasons unknown, it instantly brought me back in time. And I knew for sure that John Lennon was to be the key for the story you presently are reading when, a few hours later, I heard a radio disc jockey sorrowfully mention that the following day (December 8) would mark the 37th anniversary of John’s death. As nearly everyone knows, he was murdered by a crazed, miserable asshole outside the apartment building in which he lived with Yoko Ono on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

There are reasons why John Lennon and I more or less crossed paths. Here goes.

That long-ago spring found me, four years post-college, floundering magnificently in the game of life. My romantic prospects were nil. My meaningful career prospects were niller. My bank account had a few bucks in it, but basically was pitiful.

Pretty much unanchored, I sublet for three months, with a friend from my college years, an affordable, beautiful apartment on Broome Street in the up-and-coming SoHo section of lower Manhattan. I spent my time traipsing around the city, checking out the neighborhoods and low-cost entertainment and picking up temp work to bring in a smattering of bucks. Those were the days when you could eat cheaply, a slice of pizza being available for a mere 25¢, and when a person might devote a lot of hours to worrying that his personal compass wasn’t pointing in a good direction.

John Lennon wasn’t having the easiest time of it either back then. The U.S. government was doing its best to try and deport him. And he and Yoko were having big marital problems. Somewhere I’d heard or read that they were separated and that John was living in SoHo. I never knew any details of his domestic situation while I lived on Broome Street, but I kept half-expecting to see him around.

See a Beatle on the street? Man, once I’d have fainted if that ever came to pass. I mean, I’d been an incredibly major Beatles fan. I lived and breathed Beatles for years. But strangely, a year or two after their 1970 dissolution, their aura began to dissipate. I still kept up with each Beatle’s doings, but the magic spell they’d had me under was no more.

Yep, John had plenty to worry about in 1973. But his woes didn’t stop him from doing what he did best: Writing songs and making music. Undertaking a bit of research last week, I discovered that he entered a Manhattan studio in July 1973 to record his Mind Games album. Most likely he was writing some songs for that record when I saw him on Broome Street. And the kicker is this: One Day (At A Time) comes from Mind Games. There’s a real chance that the lovely song that set this story in motion might have been partially playing in his head when our near-encounter took place.

Some stories need a moral and/or reason for being, and this is one of them. I therefore pose this question: If I knew then what I know now, would I have acted differently? Answer: Damn straight, boys and girls. I ain’t exactly deep on the path to enlightenment in these latter stages of my life, but I sure have a few bits more sense than did my more youthful self.

For example, if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years it’s that being friendly to people right and left is the way to go. It won’t kill you. Or so I’m told. If I’d had my head on straighter in 1973 I’d have smiled at John Lennon and said “Hey, man. Thanks for all the great music you’ve made,” or “Hello, John. Fancy meeting you here.”

Lennon likely would have saluted Richie and me and thrown a “It’s a pleasure, gents” type of remark at us while continuing on his way. And if something along those lines had taken place, I’d now have a hell of a better tale to tell than the one I own. Or, come to think of it, maybe not . . . as with all aspects of life, it depends on how you look at things.

(Please don’t be shy about adding your comments or about sharing this article)


85 thoughts on “The Day I Came THIS CLOSE To Sort Of Meeting John Lennon

  1. Glen available December 13, 2017 / 1:20 am

    Across the mists of time…
    A recall equal parts touching,insightful, ironic and dare I say it – historic!
    Brilliant read.

    Ps. Has anyone ever told you you bear more than a passing resemblance to Lennon?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 13, 2017 / 8:30 am

      Hi Glen. Thanks for the kind words.

      You know, people used to tell me that facially I reminded them of one person or another. But I don’t think anyone ever mentioned JL.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Artist's Child December 13, 2017 / 1:45 am

    Amazing story. I remember reading that John Lennon loved New York because he could be a normal person, unlike in Europe where he was hounded by the press. You saw him enjoying a normal life where he could walk down the street unhindered like anyone else. That’s very special, even if you did not speak to him. Despite his problems, he looked so happy in the Mind Games video. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Cristina Crawford December 13, 2017 / 5:56 am

    What a lovely story! Thank you for sharing. I must be really weird because I wasn’t a huge fan of The Beatles. My mother pretty much only allowed classical music in the house. I didn’t start branching out until I went to college (1979). Neil Diamond was my first concert (Don’t judge!). I did have a celebrity encounter (alas not with a musician): I meet Henry Winkler in an airport. Somehow I got the courage to say: ” Mr. Winkler, I love your work in Royal Pains.” He turned and started talking to me as if he’d known me for years. Nicest guy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 13, 2017 / 8:36 am

      Thanks for stopping by, Cristina.
      My wife loved Royal Pains too. Henry has had a long career.


  4. ccgoesdutch December 13, 2017 / 6:15 am

    Funny how one always remembers those “what if’s” in life and yet comes through with a deeper insight into life. Lovely story!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 13, 2017 / 8:37 am

      Hi. Thanks a lot for adding your thoughts.

      Yeah, the “what ifs” sometimes can really stick with us.

      Take care —


  5. tanjabrittonwriter December 13, 2017 / 8:20 am

    This is a good story, Neil. You and your brother were still in his aura, even if you did not say anything to him.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 13, 2017 / 9:03 am

      Morning, Tanja.
      Yeah, I think you’re right to some extent. Lennon was a very smart and creative guy. The world could use him right now.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Deb December 13, 2017 / 8:33 am

    Why not make this a classic story? Who says you didn’t stop and talk with John? Who says, either in the long or short run, that your encounter with him didn’t change both your life and his? Write that story Neil. Tell us how you met him and what transpired after, because of course you became friends and then… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Still the Lucky Few December 13, 2017 / 9:18 am

    Maybe he would have said, “Me ‘n Ould baig go’in tigit bevied up. Come ‘ead?” Surely not, “It’s a pleasure, gents”. And you would never say no to that kind of invitation for a drink, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. greenpete58 December 13, 2017 / 9:38 am

    New York City has always had a cool way of treating celebrities. I read where Joan Crawford was in her final years, almost forgotten, and came across some NYC construction workers. They yelled “Hey Joanie,” and one of them shouted “They don’t make them like you anymore, baby!” The encounter supposedly made her feel like a queen.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Alyson December 13, 2017 / 1:01 pm

    Oh the foolishness of youth where we are too cool to embrace opportunities we would give our eye teeth for as more “mature” adults – Sadly that was never going to happen with JL as he was taken from us far too soon but a great story anyway. Bet you have a fair few other stories from those SoHo days?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 13, 2017 / 2:28 pm

      Hi. Yeah, I’ll probably revisit that era again for this website.
      Take care, Alyson, and thanks a lot for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. elbycloud December 13, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    I love that you didn’t disturb him. That’s a much more authentic New York story. I once walked past Ric Ocasek and I’m sure both of us are the better for it, from the point of view of our respective biomes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 13, 2017 / 2:33 pm

      Elby, I like the word “biome.” Haven’t heard it in a long time.

      Thanks a lot for adding your thoughts. I’ll be seeing you —

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Anabel Marsh December 13, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    One of the deaths I remember exactly where I was when I heard. I think i’d have been dumbstruck if i’d met him – you were probably just being cool!

    Liked by 1 person

      • andrewcferguson December 14, 2017 / 1:55 am

        It’s always tricky approaching well-known people – not that I make a habit of it. I remember approaching an England cricketer after play had finished for the day for an autograph for my nephews: he gave the autograph, but without breaking stride, taking off his sunglasses or saying a word; his batting partner (a less renowned player) was much more friendly and stopped to chat. I suppose like us mere mortals it might depend on the mood they’re in!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Carmel Bendon December 13, 2017 / 5:32 pm

    Great story – a true ‘brush with fame’. But would it have been better to have spoken to John Lennon on that day? Probably ‘yes’ but, then again, without the actual exchange, you can imagine endless possibilities that ‘might have been’. Maybe he would have invited you to the studio to hear him record; bought you a slice of that pizza you liked; dedicated his next song to you. Your writer’s mind was given a gift that day. Another thing to thank the great John Lennon for.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 13, 2017 / 5:54 pm

      Hi Carmel. Lennon had such a brilliant mind. His interviews , and of course his music, prove that.


  13. Joyce Hamilton December 13, 2017 / 5:53 pm

    Thanks for reminding me of the Beatles……l certainly was a fan!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. amcmulin914 December 13, 2017 / 6:12 pm

    I’ve been working on some Beatles songs on the guitar, Rocky Racoon, While My guitar gently weeps, fun to see others reflecting on them as well. Got to take the opportunities when they’re presented!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 13, 2017 / 6:57 pm

      Hello. Thanks for dropping by.
      I don’t think any musical act ever had the worldwide cultural influence that The Beatles did. They were the kings of the world.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Janet Sunderland December 13, 2017 / 7:44 pm

    Great story, and I understand your regret; however, it’s also true that one of the best things about New York is that the brightest and best stars can walk the streets, and maybe people nod, but that’s about it. That was one of the coolest things about New York.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. sniderjerry December 13, 2017 / 7:48 pm

    Hello Neil, Great essay. I had a friend who came back from Vietnam – couldn’t feel a thing emotionally until John Lennon died. My friend called me, he was playing Beatle tunes. He was finally home. And I’m working at a craft store for the holidays – a lady came in to frame a 1964 Beatle picture for her brother who lives in a group home – he does’t have much going for him but he knows everything Beatles. Wow what magic – hope you get to see Ringo or Paul. All the best. Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 13, 2017 / 8:05 pm

      Thanks for these comments, Jerry. You have excellent things to say.
      Take care —



  17. Ann Coleman December 14, 2017 / 11:43 am

    If it had been me, I’m not sure if I would have spoken either. But at least you saw him, and now you can imagine how the conversation might have gone!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Aunt Beulah December 14, 2017 / 1:10 pm

    Having spent my own period of time totally under the spell of the Beatles, I enjoyed every word of this post. I fear I would have reacted the same way had John Lennon walked by me and would have regretted not speaking in the same way as well. Of the two salutations you considered, I think ““Hey, man. Thanks for all the great music you’ve made,” sounds much more like you than, “Hello, John. Fancy meeting you here,” which, of course, is strictly my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 14, 2017 / 3:23 pm

      At the very least I should have smiled and nodded at him.

      Thanks for visiting, Janet. I appreciate it.


  19. Emilio Pasquale December 14, 2017 / 2:10 pm

    I got to New York in 1974 from California. I had been used to seeing celebrities on the street, having come from living and working in and around Hollywood. And I always acted blase. What a shame I never said hello or thanked anyone for the past pleasures they had given me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 14, 2017 / 3:27 pm

      Hello Emilio. Thanks a lot for adding your thoughts.
      I imagine that quite a few celebs appreciate it when fans tell them that their work is admired and meaningful.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. selizabryangmailcom December 14, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    Boy, you sure have a TON of folks leaving comments. I have total blog envy! (well, I did get started late; like 1 1/2 years ago). Anyway, a sort of six degrees of separation where Royal Pains and Winkler is concerned: I used to caption that show when it was on (closed captioning, which is my job) and I thought Mr. Winkler was one of the best on that show. I’ve also heard that he’s one of the nicest people on earth. It’s fun and fascinating to run into celebrities and our various heroes. Sometimes the bubble is burst, but sometimes it’s heightened. John probably would have been very nice to you. On the other hand, when I was in junior high, Leif Garrett came to our school for half a year and at one point he told me to, “Turn around and shut up.” So….I’d rather have run into John Lennon, truth be told! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Glen available December 14, 2017 / 2:21 pm

    Leif Garrett?
    Now there’s some names.
    Still waiting from anyone for stories of brushes with Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino or Robert DeNiro.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 14, 2017 / 3:34 pm

      Well, at a show in NYC once, Liza Minelli squeezed past me to get to her seat.
      That’s about the only other celeb encounter I can recall having.

      See ya’ —

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Glen available December 14, 2017 / 3:54 pm

    Liza and JL count as twice in one lifetime.
    You’ve done well.
    But might I suggest you now step out of the celebrity path and give someone else a chance?
    (Tee hee)

    Liked by 1 person

  23. George December 16, 2017 / 2:35 am

    But if John had had the fragile beginnings of the One Day (At A Time) melody forming in his head, had you interrupted him at that critical moment, it might have been lost forever!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. cincinnatibabyhead December 16, 2017 / 12:54 pm

    Love the first two sentences of the second lat paragraph. Words to live by. A friend of mine met Muhammad Ali. When he tried to speak his tongue gained about 10 lbs and all he could do was grunt.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. courseofmirrors December 18, 2017 / 1:06 pm

    You got a great way with words. I, too, was floundering magnificently in the game of life.

    The story you tell reminds me that during the 60s, by some serendipitous event, I found myself in the studio while the St Pepper cover was created. I helped, cutting out the cardboard image of Shirley Temple. I wasn’t allowed to take photographs, though I should have. In any case, I was too dumb to appreciate the historic event. It was however the occasion when I smoked my first proper joint, since there was an irresistible large chunk of marijuana on a plate, with a little knife, and everyone was free to it. I also remember Anita Pallenberg in high boots making a lavish entry to the scene.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Christy B December 19, 2017 / 7:16 pm

    You just “let it be” rather than disturbing him as he walked in NYC 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Stuart Campbell December 21, 2017 / 2:40 pm

    Great story. My connection with John Lennon is that, like me, he got married in Gibraltar in 1969.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. notesfromachair December 22, 2017 / 3:33 am

    Good story. What’s usually the best about these impromptu interactions with famous people we admire is not so much what is said but the feelings they evoke in us as a result of the encounter – and the memories they awake. Chances are it wouldn’t have been any more meaningful had you say hello to John. Your “interactions” with him were meaningful enough, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 22, 2017 / 7:16 am

      Hello there.
      I can’t disagree. Still, I wish I had said something to him.
      Take care —


  29. thatoneday December 26, 2017 / 4:04 pm

    About 10 years ago, I had a dream about John Lennon. It was one of the three celebrity dreams I’ve had that was so sparklingly vivid that when I first read your story, I thought, “Wow, I’ve also seen John Lennon and didn’t speak to him, but at least I had meaningful eye contact with him.” It was a full few seconds until I remembered that my encounter was just a dream.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 26, 2017 / 5:01 pm

      Hi there.
      You definitely had a powerful dream. To remember it after all these years is really something.

      Take care —

      Neil S.


    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 28, 2017 / 6:20 pm

      Hello there. Thanks for stopping by.

      I agree with your analysis. Life, I suppose, is partially a series of “what ifs”.

      Happy New Year to you.

      Neil S.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. Steve Higgins December 31, 2017 / 12:52 pm

    I take my hat off to you for a post with such great interactions. Years ago I worked in Liverpool and mentioned John Lennon to one of my customers. He told me that lennon’s childhood home was just around the corner and when I drove off that way I came across iit immediately. Menlove crescent where he lived with his aunt Mimi.
    Nice post. Best wishes, Steve

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger December 31, 2017 / 1:35 pm

      Hi, Steve. Thanks for the compliment. Appreciated.

      You know, the world could really use John Lennon these days. He would help to counterbalance jerks like Trump.

      Have a very happy new year.

      Neil S.

      Liked by 1 person

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