How do you commemorate the anniversary of a night no one wants to remember?
It was 30 years ago today that John Lennon was shot and killed outside his home at the Dakota on the Upper West Side. Fans will gather all day at nearby Strawberry Fields as they have for years, paying tribute to the legend and his music.
Obviously, Lennon is best known for his work with The Beatles, The Plastic Ono Band and as a solo artist. That musical legacy is so overwhelming that sometimes his legacy as a man gets overshadowed.
"John really spoke to the best in us," Joe Raiola told me last month as he organized the 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute at the Beacon Theatre. "This has never been about honoring a rock star. This is about honoring someone whose influence is hard to measure. Even if you talk about Gandhi and [Martin Luther] King as proponents for peace, their influence was basically national - in their own countries, mostly. Lennon's influence is global and it's going to last as long as his music."
Meshell Ndegeocello, who performed at the tribute, said Lennon's biggest influence on her wasn't musical. "He loved his wife, man," she said. "That's so beautiful."
She said the way he conducted himself as a public figure was also impressive.
"He quit to be with his family," she said. "He wouldn't do anything for fame and glory. He was outspoken. He wasn't afraid. How can I not be intrigued by that?"
The great photographer Bob Gruen, who was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame last month, said he didn't really think of Lennon's superstardom when he took the iconic photos of Lennon in New York City. "He was my friend," Gruen said. "I was taking pictures of my friend."
The death of Lennon still affects Gruen, because he had lost a friend.
"When you get a deep wound, eventually the wound heals but you still have scar and when you touch the scar you still have the pain," Gruen told the Voice of America. "It's something like that where you never get over it but somehow you get used to it."
And in keeping with the theme of John Lennon, The Man, here are two of his best "human" songs.