Do you remember exactly what you were doing 30 years ago this moment?

As I write this, on the evening of December 8, 2010, I can vividly recall where I was on the same evening in 1980 and what I was thinking, even, just as can millions of other folks of a certain age around the world.

At 15-and-a-half years old, laying on my bed listening to K-97, the FM album rock station in Edmonton, Alberta, I was shocked to hear the DJ hysterically interrupt a song with the news that John Lennon had just been shot and killed in New York City. As the station went on to play Beatles and Lennon tunes all night long, I wrote the date and the time on the wallpaper above my bed. When I visited the same house about 10 years ago, I could still make out the writing in faint ink on my old bedroom wall from so many years before.

I was a typical teen in many respects – rebellious, smart-assed and cocky – but in search of meaning and answers to questions I didn’t even know how to put into words. Like so many of my contemporaries, I idolized Lennon and the 1960s in general, believing I’d been cursed for having been born too late to share in what I know now to have been mostly media hype.

Those thoughts came flooding back as I listened to online audio excerpts of the remarkable nine-hour interview conducted by Rolling Stone magazine writer Jonathon Cott with John Lennon on December 5, 1980, only three days before his death (the tapes were only recently discovered in a closet, where they’d been forgotten). In it, Lennon identifies the need so many people have to elevate their heroes onto unsustainable platforms.

“It’s the same idol worship,” Lennon said in an observation that is just as true today. “They pick a president, they put him up there, and then they set fire to him because he couldn’t solve their problems, because they’re always looking for someone else to provide for them.”

But Lennon says he can’t be anyone’s god or guru, even though that’s the role so many of us wanted him to play.

“I’ve never claimed divinity. I’ve never claimed a purity of soul. I’ve never claimed to have the answer to life… I only put out songs and answer questions as honestly as I can. But I can’t live up to people’s expectations of me, because they’re illusionary.”

It’s the same problem with trying to find revelation in psychedelic drugs, Eastern mysticism or extremist ideology.

“The hardest thing is facing yourself. It’s easier to shout, ‘Revolution and power to the people,’ than it is to look at yourself and try to find out what’s real inside you and what isn’t…. When I was younger, I used to think that the world was doing it to me and that the world owed me something. And that either the conservatives or the socialists or the fascists or the communists or the Christians or the Jews were doing something to me. And when you’re a teenybopper, that’s what you think.”

But, Lennon adds in an unsparingly honest, even anguished tone, “I’m 40 now and I don’t think that anymore because I found out it doesn’t f***ing work! The thing goes on any way and all you’re doing is jacking off and screaming about what your mommy or your daddy or society did.”

It’s a shame we couldn’t hear what the man would have had to say at the age of 70. It would no doubt have been far more interesting that the endless celebrity worship/character assassination that passes for journalism today. He might even have had trouble finding an ear in the media.

But people still listen. Only a few weeks ago, my daughter, who happens to be 15-and-a-half years old, bought a John Lennon poster to tack up on her bedroom wall. What comes around, I thought.

And evidently, Lennon understood even if it might have pained him. It’s part of being young and searching for answers and one’s place in the world. There is a need for the “jacking off and screaming,” he admitted.

“One does have to go through that (for the people who even bother – most assholes just accept what it is anyway and get on with it, right?) So for the few of us who did question what was going on, I have found out personally – not for the whole world – that: I am responsible for it, as well as them. I am part of them, there’s no separation. We’re all one….”

And that’s the heartening thing about listening to that Liverpudlian accent that is so distinctive and familiar. He really still believed in his own central message right up to the end.

“It’s give peace a chance, not shoot people for peace. All you need is love. I believe it. It’s damn hard, but I absolutely believe it,” he told the Rolling Stone writer. “I see the world through different eyes now. But I still believe in love, peace and understanding. As Elvis Costello said: what’s so f***ing funny about love, peace and understanding?”