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Lennon magic in Olympia

John Lennon’s piano stops by an Olympia home to spread peace and magic

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Magic was captured in Olympia Tuesday in the notes to a song that a Steinway & Sons upright piano drew out of John Lennon, a haunting call to peace and love made more poignant after Lennon’s assassination. 

Lennon bought the Model Z piano in London in 1970 and composed and recorded “Imagine” on it the next year.  The piano sat for a time, presumably dormant, and then was purchased by a private British collector in 1992, who loaned it to the Beatles’ Story museum in Liverpool, England.  The collector then put it up for auction in 2000, when singer George Michael purchased it for nearly $3 million (1.67M pounds sterling). The priceless piano is considered to have a value between $8 and $12 million and is considered to be the most expensive piece of pop memorabilia.

But Michael, alongside his partner Kenny Goss, a Dallas native, sees the value of the piano’s magic and of the magic of the song and has set the piano out on a photographic tour under the management of Imagine Piano Peace Project Creative Director Carolyn True.  To date, the piano has toured Dealey Plaza in Dallas; the Memphis National Civil Rights Museum; the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville; Ford’s Theatre; the Oklahoma City Memorial; and Waco, Texas. At each stop, the piano and the song brought the hopeful message for the dreamers in sites of loss, pain, and tragedy. 

But for its most recent trip, the piano went to an individual home for the first time.  The Clayton family lost their son to suicide after assaults plagued his bisexual psyche.  Their Olympia home was the destination of the blue Artemis moving van holding the magic instrument, where composer and good family friend Steve Schalchlin played “Imagine” on the lawn, as well as a song he composed for Bill Clayton titled “Gabi’s Song.”

True was moved by the event, observing that the voice of the family was as strong as the bigger entities such as the Oklahoma City Memorial; the strength of the boy’s spirit brought the magic to Olympia while the strength of the spirit of the piano energized Schalchlin to pay homage to those suffering while suffusing the space with light.

The magic of the piano, painstakingly transported into the home, pervaded the home, filling it with life and hope and music, with impromptu sing-a-longs driving requests for more sing-a-longs. “All we are saying is give peace a chance” became “give love a chance” and “give life a chance.”

Reality: one unprepossessing brown maple piano with John Lennon’s cigarette burns on the right side. 

Magic: “You may say I’m a dreamer.  But I’m not the only one.  I hope someday you’ll join us.  And the world will live as one.”

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