75 years ago last week, the Imperial Japanese Navy took the United States by surprise and attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing thousands and plunging us into World War II.
36 years ago last week, a deranged music fan named Mark David Chapman took John Lennon by surprise and shot him four times at the entrance of the Dakota apartment building on West 72nd Street in New York City, killing him and plunging us into a world of three Beatles (George Harrison’s passing 21 years later would plunge us into a world of two).
The Pearl Harbor attack prompted President FDR to proclaim December 7, 1941 as “a date which will live in infamy.” December 8, 1980 lives in infamy as well. And it turns out Japan actually plays a part in both these infamies. With Pearl Harbor it’s obvious – war and hatred taking center stage. With Mr. Lennon, it’s in the form of peace and love – his widow Yoko Ono, born in Tokyo and by his side from 1968 until his last moments on earth.
Ono’s eccentric, experimental musical compositions decorate albums like Some Time in New York City, Double Fantasy, and Milk and Honey, as well as over a dozen of her solo releases. Her style combined with the general, uh, wackiness of Japan have paved the way for acts like the Plastics, Shonen Knife, Puffy AmiYumi, Perfume, and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
So let’s remember Pearl Harbor (oh and some bands that named themselves after it), John Lennon (and the Beatles songs he sang on), Yoko Ono (and the J-pop she inspired)…and some songs with infamy in the title, just to keep things as schizomusical as possible…
USS Shaw exploding (unknown navy photographer)
John Lennon (Bob Gruen)