all we are saying
[3 weeks of recording in 1980.. published dec 1981.. john shot 2 days after.. new preface by david 2000]
john answered the door, singing to the tune of ‘eleanor rigby’.. ‘here’s david sheff, come to ask questions w answers that no one will hear’..
that night.. convo (via radio) about nuclear politics and that in turn to a discussion about the roots of violence
john: ‘mahatma gandhi and milk are great ie’s of fantastic non violents who died violently.. i can never work that out.. we’re pacifists, but i’m not sure what it means when you’re such a pacifist that you get shot. i can never understand that.’
a couple of months later, lennon was shot, i have not been able to work that out. i still do not understand that..
that summer, the lennons had reemerged after 5 quiet years spent between their manhattan apt and their cold spring harbor, long island home.. they had been living quietly.. john the ‘househusband’ – he coined the term – and yoko managing the family’s sizable estate. their son, sean born in 1975 and lennon doted on him (the trampoline in the dining room was sean’s). john and yoko were closer than ever;
the press and fans weren’t quite so sanguine about the lennons’ disappearance from the public view. there were nasty article speculating.. it’s ironic that lennon would describe the period as the most satisfying in his life..
when they decided to again ‘breathe out’ as they put it.. did some short interviews and this one for playboy..
i spent 3 weeks w them.. though i was 24.. the lessons were not lost on me.. ie: the caring for his child and the quiet convos w his wife – satisfaction for this rock star..
it’s easy to become pessimistic when a hero like lennon is murdered. but in 1980 john an yoko were saying and in 2000 yoko is still saying that there is another way to view life..
a nother way – short
their desire to give peace a chance and come together.. .. starting over w new caring attitudes.. . imagining ‘no countries’
their message: know yourself and learn to think for yourself. love is the answer. do for others when you are able. though living is easy w eyes closed, we must fight the impulse. if we don’t like what we see, change it. at least try. celebrate life. imagine a better world.. that’s all they are saying
a nother way: short bit
d: where have you been
j: i’ve been baking bread..it is such a tremendous responsibility to see that the baby has the right amount of food and doesn’t overeat and gets the right amount of sleep.. and bath and swim..
d: why did you become a househusband
j: it was a case of heal thyself
y: it was asking ‘what is more important in our life’..
j: the idea of being a rock n roll musician sort of suited my talents and mentality and the freedom was great. but then i found *i wasn’t free.. i’d got boxed in .. my **contract.. was a physical manifestation of being in prison..t
y: you can become a stereotype of yourself..t
y: we may have been heading that way.. that is one thing we did not want to be.. that is what i really despise about the art world. you get a tiny idea like, ‘all right, i’m an artist who draws circles’ ..you stick to that and it becomes your label. you get a gallery and patrons and all that. and that’s your life.. and next year, perhaps you’ll do triangles.. there’s such a poverty of ideas.. then if you go on and continue doing that for maybe 10 yrs .. people realize you are someone who continued 10 yrs and you might get a prize (chuckling).. it’s such a ridiculous sort of routine..t
j: you get the big prize when you get cancer and you’ve been drawing circles or triangles for 20 yrs..
y: and then you die
j: right. the biggest prize is when you die – a really big one for dying in public.. ok: those are the things we are not interested in doing.. that’s why we ended up doing things like bed ins, and yoko ended up doing things like pop music.. we crossed over into each other’s fields.. tried to find a ground that was interesting to both of us.. we wanted to be together and work together.. not just together on weekends.. people still had this idea the beatles were some kind of thing that shouldn’t step outside of its circle..
j: the experience of being a full time parent gave me the spirit again..
j: walking away is much harder than carrying on..
d: most people would have continued to churn out the product.. why were you able to see a way out
j: most people don’t live w yoko.. most people don’t have a companion who will tell the truth and refuse to live w a bs artist, which i am pretty good at… she showed me the possibility of the alternative.. ‘you don’t have to do this’..
y: it all shows how contaminated our minds are by society. we were taught and educated to achieve things or be something and, of course, doing something in the house is achieving something, but people don’t recognized that.. when john and i would go out, people would come up and say ‘john, what are you doing”.. they wouldn’t believe he could simply be a ‘househusband’.. but at least they asked him; they never asked me, because, as a woman, i wasn’t supposed to be doing anything..
j: we had to face the business.. it was either another case of asking some daddy to come solve our business or having one of us do it.. these lawyers were getting a 1/4 m a year to sit around.. most of them don’t seem really interested in solving the problems. every lawyer had a lawyer.. each beatle had 4-5 people working for him. so we felt we had to look after that side of the business and get rid of it and deal w ti before we could start dealing w our own life. and the only one of us that has the talent or ability to deal w it on that level is yoko..
y: anyway, the relationship is better because both of us have experienced another side.. john in the house, me in the office
j: it saved my life.. i was stuck in the feeling that one did not – was not justified in being alive unless one was fulfilling other people’s dreams.. whether they were contractual dreams or the public’s dreams, or fulfilling my own dreams and illusions about what i thought i was supposed to be, which, in retrospect turned out to not be what i am..t
j: they are looking for leaders. don’t follow leaders.. leaders is what we don’t need.. t.. it’s one world, one people..
y: all thee people from the west coast had been calling and saying.. ‘listen, you’d better come over here because he’s really a mess over it..’.. the business people think, well, this is john lennon, a valuable item – you’d better tack care of it
j: yes, i’m property. not a sex object but a something object
y: and ‘m someone to take care of it..that’s all it is to them..
(on – getting back together after their break) – i went (elton john in ny) and i was watching him from the audience and everybody was applauding like crazy .. and he was there bowing.. but that’s not what i saw. somehow he looked very lonely to me and i began crying.. somehow it hit me that he was a very lonely person up on stage there. and he needed me. it was like my soul suddenly saw his soul..
y: so i was thinking.. am i going ot get into this agin just because i saw his soul or something.. so there was some hesitation..
d: what changed to allow things to work?
y: it slowly started to dawn on me that john was not the trouble at all. john was a fine person. it was society that had become too much.. i’m thankful to john’s intelligence.. he was intelligent enough to know that this was the only way we could save our marriage.. not because we didn’t love each other but because it was too much for me.. nothing would have changed if i had come back as mrs lennon again
d: what did change
y: it was good for me to do the business and regain my pride about what i can do.. and it was good to know what he needed, the role reversal; that was so good for him
y: for capitalism to accelerate .. it’s better for everybody to be single.. there’s not much room for emotions about family or personal relationships
(on the new album being about these relationships) j: it’s very honest. it’s not a sex fantasy as a lot of the stories in the press are saying.. that’s like when we did the bed ins.. they all came charging thru the door thinking we were going to be screwing in bed. and of course we were just sitting there w peace signs..
y: it reflects the kinds of things we learned from life, you see.
j: right. rather than it being a diary.. it’s sort of like after you’ve write a diary, you look back and ask, ‘what did i gain from all this’ it’s reflection on notes already taken..
y: most people think pop music is the people’s form.. intellectuals trying to communicate w the people usually fail.. pop songs are that language.. they’re a very strong form of communication.. another thing.. the healing power of sound.. certain sounds will heal illness.. a pop song may be very short but it s very powerful..
j: so is a heartbeat
y: that’s right. underneath the whole record is a heartbeat.. music circulates because of the vibration, and so you have to be very careful what you put out
d: the hope is that the record will be inspiring and move people to feel/act differently.. which is what people want from you.. some prescription for life. is this more responsibility than you would choose to have?
j: no. no, because it’s the same bit about saying that the beatles led the 60s. it’s not true.. the idea of leadership is a false god. if you want to us the beatles or john and yoko or whoever, people are expecting them to do something for them.. that’s not what’s going to happen.. but they are the ones who didn’t understand any message that came before anyway.. and they are the ones that will follow hitler or rev moon or whoever.. following is not what it’s about, but leaving messages of ‘this is what’s happening to us.. whey. what’s happening to you?’
j: when we did the bed ins, we told the reporters that (we were doing commercials for peace) and they responded, ‘uh huh yeah sure’ but it didn’t matter what the reporters said, because our commercials when out nonetheless.. we’re putting the word ‘peace’ on the front page of the paper next to all the words about war..
d: w hopes that wishful thinking will create a new reality?
j: that’s it. you got it..
j: same idea we had for ‘give peace a chance’.. it wasn’t like ‘you have to have peace’ just give it a chance.. just saying how about this version for a change.. .. we think the future is made in your mind
y: i think it’s not so much we, if you meant the two of us, but all of us are part of the future.. the future is already w/in us..
y: there’s a great danger in the way we’re going.. part of the reason things have developed this way has to do w the division of labor.. more convenient for me to go out and cut trees/hung while women were nursing.. so women’s *voice became a voiceless voice.. men believe in verbalizing things. men believe in mediums such as writing. women did go into writing as well, but they believe more in a sort of psychic means of communication.. now they’re **trying to do things the way men do, which is a pretty dangerous way. it’s a healthy change in the sense that they’re not just sitting in a rut, that we are trying, exploring new fields.. but there are dangers.. that we become men, we become the macho society..
**w ie: pics on money.. et al
j: i know that comparison is odious .. and comparison w the so called black movement are even more odious.. but this is a little like the first black awakening,. first, there was a tendency to imitate whitey and straighten the hair and things like that.. and suddenly they thought, what the hell are we doing.. we have to be ourselves.
y: (on .. shall we send sean to school or not).. i don’t suppose there’s any reason to send him because he should pick up language/writing and all that when he wants to .. in fact, children who stay w/o the knowledge of writing for a long time become more psychic.. so there is that too.
j: remain more psychic
y: right.. remain.. remain more psychic. exactly. so from that pov the fact that women are not verbal, or this way or that way or whatever women are not than men are, i think our way of thinking and our way of feeling is really helping the world..
j: but once the change gets out of the crawling stage.. the result will be that mens’ intuition or psychic ness or whatever word you want to use, which we lost, will be redeveloped. women’s other potential will be developed and we will share the burden equally according to each individual’s.. what’s the word?
j: right. and each individual leading instead of always delegating that black person does this and a child does that..
d: it’s very inspiring (when two are gathering together there is nothing you can’t do) but what about the people w/o that kind of love and companionship – all the lonely people
j: (seriously): go and get it
d: it’s as simple as that?
j: ‘go and get it’ is a flip way of saying that if you will be open to the possibility, you..
y: will receive it..
d: do you agree that having it makes all the diff in the world?
j: absolutely. it’s the diff between life and death
j: sitting still.. a lot more can happen when you’re not doing anything than when you appear ot be doing something..
j: they’re sending the kids off earlier and earlier. i realize that most of the school system and kindergartens are for the women/people who have to go out and *work and cannot be there. but this idea of sending the young people to one prison and the old people to another prison when they’re a certain age, there’s something backward about that.. the old people are there to look after the young.. so if they take the **old/young out of their prisons and put them together ***somewhere, then we’re going to have some nice free children
j: the reason why kids are crazy is that nobody can face the responsibility of bringing them up. everybody is too scared to deal w children all the time., so we reject them and send them away and torture them. the ones that survive are the conformist – their bodies are cut to the size of the suits – the ones we label good. the ones that don’t fit the suits are either put in mental homes or become artists
(on why can’t the beatles get back together) j: what’s this game of doing things because other people want it? the whole beatle idea was to do what you want right? do what you want and try not to harm other people..
d: all right, but back to the music itself. you don’t agree that the beatles created the best rock n roll that’s been produced?
j: i don’t . i mean, then you get into the defn of what is rock n roll, what is best, all that.. but the beatles you see – i’m too involved in them artistically.. i can’t listen to them objectively.. i listen to them as that track or the day we did the song. so far as i am concerned, i am dissatisfied w every record they ever made.. there ain’t one of them i wouldn’t remake… including all my individual ones.. so i cannot possible give you an assessment of what the beatles are..
when i was a beatle.. we thought we were the best.. but we thought we were the best before anyone had even heard of us..
j: so it it was the best.. so what? it can never be again.. the game isn’t over yet.. time will tell where the real magic lies..
(on people wanting the beatles to get back together)
j: do we have to do the walking on water again because a whole pile of dummies didn’t see it the first time or didn’t believe it when they say it.. that’s what they’re asking: ‘get off the cross. i didn’t understand it the first time. can you do it again?’ no way. you can’t do things twice. what’s that thing.. you can never go home. it doesn’t exist. it’s not that we’re withholding it from you; we don’t possess it to withhold it. it was never our s int eh first place. it excited of its own..
j: like parents talking ww2.. i’ve no ax to grind either way, but i don’t want to go to the reunion w japanese fighter planes.. i’m not interest in it.. it’s just irrelevant, absolutely irrelevant
(on ie: w/o the beatles there’e be no rock n roll et al) j: all music is rehash. there are only a few notes. just variation on a theme..
(on what lyrics were implying.. ie: paul is dead.. playing it backwards.. lucy in the sky lsd..) j: i’m not interested in creating illusion.. i just want to say direct whatever i’m trying to say.. i’m not interested in poetry w a capital ‘p’.. the less said, the better. i would like to be able to say it w/o lyrics, but i can’t. i’m just – just verbal. somehow it is clarity that i am looking for, clarity of expressions
beyond words ness
if people don’t like it , well.. it’s the same as wanting the beatles back. you want music from me, you’ll get it. but don’t tell me which music to make or suggest how i do it.. otherwise, you do do it yourself.. there’s room for everybody.. somebody else can go do that..
j: i don’t mean to belittle the beatles when i say they weren’t this/that.. i’m just trying not to overblow their importance as separate form society.. it’s our generation, that’s all.. it was 60s music..
j: and while we’re at it, we have to get this beatle thing straight about the beatles saving the world. if you don’t see it, nobody is going to. giving money we raised by getting back together is giving someone aspirin for a headache. the cause of the headache is not going to be solved..
d: maybe you don’t give aspirin. maybe you raise the money and do something diff – establish asocial programs, whatever.
j: but why me? why not you? why don’t you start right now and get yourself as famous as the beatles? it’s quite easy if you want to wrk 24 hrs a day and keep smiling and dancing for 10-15 years.. then you can do it.. why is everybody telling me to do it? i already did it..
y: also the.. money would not be what you think. the tax problems are enough, but a lot of people – the money would not go to the proper place that you would want it to do..
j: i have never voted.. never registered and never will.. i’m w the majority.. the majority don’t vote. well, they know better..
y: if you don’t use violence and you don’t want money, you don’t have power to do anything.. so if you do want to change the system, become a part of the system w a position to change it .. so you need money.
even if you it is sad that in this society if you don’t think about money, you become a parasite.. .. it’s the idealism in everybody to think that there should be such a thing in society to protect the people so that they don’t have to really depend on the money system.. but this society ids dependent on the one system so w have to play that game..
d: the papers made it sound as if you are buying up the atlantic seaboard
y: when you see the houses, you would understand. they do become an investment , but they are not an investment unless you sell them. each house is like a historical landmark and very beautiful..we’re really in love w each house..
d: do you actually use all the properties?
y: most people would have the park to go and run – the park is a huge place – but john an i were never able to go to the park together,.. you know.. so we have to create our own parks..
d: john, do you really need all these houses around the country just so you can have a place to get way? does anyone need 150 m?
j: what would you suggest i do? give everything away and walk the streets? i wasn’t content w no dollars, i wasn’t content w a million/hundred-million.. contentment doesn’t lie in money..
d: then why be in the game of getting more
j: because to do what i do, i need what money does..
d: 150 mn?
j: it’s all relative, isn’t it?
d” what about all the talk of transcending possessions?
j: you can transcend possessions w/o walking around in a robe.. possessions can be in the mind..
y: (on easier for rich man to get to heaven than thru eye of needle) j: an intellectual has less chance of getting thru than me.. they’re possessed of ideas. an intellectual w no money who’s living the ascetic life – not tv and all that – well, they’re possessed of ideas, ideas of what they’re supposed to be. i’m no longer possessed of ideas. so those were the possessions i had to get rid of, not the physical possessions..
j: i understand the neurosis. but having a lot of money is not longer a problem for me. that’s why we ended up w more. yoko didn’t have that problem, because she was born rich and she was rich all her life.. she couldn’t understand my attitude about money. whether we had more or less seemed irrelevant to her
j: so possessions are not just physical possessions. possessions are ideas. most people are choked to death by concepts and ideas that they carry around w them. usually not their own but their parents’z and society’s .. those are the possessions you’ve got to get ride of to get thru the eye of the needle.. it has absolutely nothing to do w phyiscal possessoins..
d: how do you escape it?
j: it takes time to get rid of all this garbage we’ve been carrying around.. it had a lot to do w yoko.. showing me that i was still possessed.. i left physically when i fell in love w yoko, but mentally it took the last 10 yrs of struggling, i learned everything from her..
(david asking if bob dylan is preaching) j: people who don’t want to hear it will just leave the theater.
d: will they? it’s back to the responsibility thing. people stay in the theater because he’s bob dylan
j: anybody who wants to hear dylan just because of who he is isn’t gonna understand what dylan is saying now or then. they’re just following some kind of image.. they’re the sheep anyway.. still, the whole religion thing does suffer from the ‘onward christian soldiers’ bit. there’s too much talk about soldiers and marching and converting.
y: each person in the world has a song in his heart. they should listen to that..t
j: well he (dylan) wasn’t ever that political really. he wrote ‘blowin in the wind’ and ‘soldier song’ but they’re just poetic politics, folk music of the day.. he’s commenting on what’s going on like a journalist. he never stood in the corner and shouted anything. it’s what people read into what he did. it’s only the constant necessity to identify and label people for the media and public..
(on scream therapy – scream session to pool for 6 months) y: yeah. 69 to 70.. john go thru the angry young man thing. you know the urge to cry exist in men, but they transform it to anger, which is more acceptable. but women have anger too. we transform it into the more acceptable for m of crying – or silence.
j: yeah and breast cancer
d: you still stake that therapy
j: are you kidding. no, i’m not that stupid. the secret is to learn how to cry. once you know how to do it, you know..
(on looking for a daddy)
y: i’m not searching for the big daddy, i look for something else in men – something that is tender and weak and i feel like i want to help.
i have this mother instinct, whatever. but i was not hung up on find a father, because i had one who disillusioned me. john never had a chance to get disillusioned about his father since his father wasn’t around. people in general are so frantic about daddies because they’re the ones that are never home and they never got enough of daddy. somehow there is a distance about them, a mystique..
j: a lot of us are looking for fathers.. so all these leaders.. are all substitute fathers.. whether they be religious or political.. all this bit about electing a president..t
j: there’s nothing that wrong with it (father figure) until you give them the right to give you a sort of recipe for your life.. what happens is somebody comes along w a good piece of truth. instead of the truth being looked at, the person who brought it is looked at.. worship the messenger.. and they don’t listen to the message.. it’s with the beatles too.. the beatles are not jesus are not janov aren’t erhard. maybe they had a nice way of swimming, but the swimming is the point.. the records are the point. not the beatles as individuals..
y: i don’t think so . i think the beatles.. the essence of what they were communicating in music wouldn’t happen with the world. it was that the whole package..
j: but that is not the point.. they’re (christianity, muhammadianism, buddhism, confucianism, marxism, maoism) all about the person and not what the person said..
y: all the isms are daddies.. t
j: this ism.. that ism.. it’s always some big guy in the sky. and if they’re dead, that’s really good.
y: people like to personalize things.. people picture god as an old man w a beard..
y: it’s sad that society is structured in such a way that people cannot really open up to each other and therefore they need a certain theater to go to to cry, or something like that..
j: this doesn’t mean there isn’t validity in the message. the swimming may be fine right? but forget about the teacher. if the beatles had a message, it was that. w the beatles, the music is the point. not the beatles as individuals..
j: you don’t need that package.. it’s easier to id w the package than w the message, and then you miss it completely. forget about the teacher. learn to swim
d: and the beatles taught people how to swim?
j: if the beatles or the 60s had a message, it was to learn to swim. period.. and once you learn to swim, swim.. the people who are hung up on the beatles and the 60s dream missed the whole point when the beatles and the 60s became the point… carrying the beatles or the 60s dream around all your life is like carrying ww2 and glenn miller around. that’s not to say you can’t enjoy glenn miller or the beatles, but to live in that dream is the twilight zone. it’s not living now. it’s an illusion..
y: john has talked about the 60s and how it gave us a taste for freedom – sexual and otherwise. it was like an orgy. then, after that big come that we had together, mean and women somehow lost track of each other and a lot of families and relationships split apart.. i really think that what happened in the 70s can be compared to what happened under nazism w jewish families. only the force that split them in the 70s came from the inside, not from the outside.. we tried to rationalize it as the price we were paying for our freedom.. and john is saying in his new song ‘starting over’.. ok, we had the energy in the 60s, in the 70s we separated, but let’s start over in the 80s.. john’s song makes me feel like crying. he’s reaching out to me, reaching out after all that’s happened.. over a battle field of dead families even though it’s more difficult this time around.
it’s like what i ‘m saying in ‘kiss kiss kiss’.. there is the sound of a woman coming to climax on it. and she is crying out to be held, to be touched. it will be controversial, because people will feel it’s less natural to hear the sounds of a woman’s lovemaking than, say, the sound of a concorde, killing the atmosphere and polluting nature.. but the lovemaking is the sound that will make us survive..
y: people criticize the ‘me decade’ but if you tune in to yourself you might find yourself. and then you might *find other people too.. before the 60s we were **not allowed to tune into ourselves..
d: what is the 80s dream to you john?
j: make your own dream.. if you want to save peru, go save peru.. it’s quite possible to do anything, but not if you put it on the leaders.. don’t expect carter or reagan or lennon or yoko ono or bob dylan or jesus to come and do it for you.. you have to do it yourself
(on lyrics for strawberry fields.. d asks if it was a new awakening) j: no, it wasn’t a new awakening,. it was the fact that i was putting it on paper. i was awake all my life.. you understand? i’ve always been, all my life..
d: well before the beatles?
j: you can’t isolate things like that.. it’s like.. the constant search for why you go down one road and why you go down another.. i cannot give that more important emphasis than any other part of my life.. so the awareness that is apparently trying to be expressed in ‘strawberry field’.. i was different from others then (kindergarten).. i was diff all my life.. it’ not a case of.. then he took acid/marijuana and woke up.. everything is as important as everything else…
j: my influences are tremendous, from lewis carroll to oscar wilde to tough little kids that used to live near me who ended up in prison and things like that.. and the beatles were only 10 yrs.. i’ve live w yoko longer than i was a beatle.. but people don’t understand that.. i’ve been w yoko longer than i was w paul, ok? but still they ask about paul.. obviously, the most important influence in my life for the last 13 yrs has been yoko.. and there’s no getting away form that. now, i’ve got another 40-50 yrs to live, or maybe longer.. whatever it is.. and who knows .. so what the hell..
j: strawberry fields is my attempt at expressing that.. the second line goes, ‘no one i think is in my tree’.. well, what i was trying to saying that line is ‘nobody seems to be as hip as me, therefore i must be crazy or a genius’.. that’s the same problem i had when i was five: ‘there is something wrong w me because i seem to see things other people don’t see. am i crazy or am i a genius’.. i don’t think i’m either: crazy and genius don’t really mean anything anymore.. i don’t literally mean genius as the things we deify, but as the spirit of genius that can come thru anybody at any given time.. and if there is such a thing, well, i’m going to be one. it was like ‘if there is a leader of the beatles, i’m it’ if there ain’t then it’s a democracy. it sort of covers all angles..
so the line says, ‘no one i think is in my tree, i mean it must be high or low’ what i’m saying, in my insecure way is ‘nobody seems to understand where i’m coming from . i seem to see things in a diff way from most people’.. i mean, i would see teachers and fully sense the underlying stupidity or surfaceness of the situation.. so at 13, 14, i would think, yes, this guys is an asshole and i am seeing his subconscious; i can read his mind; i’m picking up things that he doesn’t even know exist.. meaning.. i always was so psychic/intuitive/poetic/whatever.. that i was always seeing things in a hallucinatory way that always saw beyond the mask.. and it’s scary when you’re a child, because there is nobody to relate to.. neither my auntie nor my friends nor anybody could ever see it.. .. and it’s very very scary. the only contact i had was reading something about oscar wilde, or dylan thomas or vincent van gogh – of the suffering they went thru because of their visions.. they were seeing/and being tortured by society for trying to express what they were.. that loneliness and seeing what is..
it isn’t egomania.. it’s a fact.. it doesn’t make me better/worse than anybody else; i just see/hear differently – the same way musician hear music differently from non musicians. and there is no way of explaining it.. there is no..
d: you never found people who shared your visions?
j: only dead people in books.. lewis carroll, certain paintings i would see. surrealism had a great effect on me because thin i realized that the imagery in my mind wasn’t insanity.. that if it was insane, that i belonged to an exclusive club that sees the world in those terms.. surrealism to me is reality.. psychedelic vision is realty to me and always was.. .. when i looked at myself in the mirror at 12, 13 – when you become conscious of appearance.. i used to, literally, trance out into alpha.. .. i would find myself seeing these hallucinatory images of my face changing.. i read the same description years later by a famous person who took opium..
d: you started to say that was only one part of you
j: yeah.. i always was a rebel because of whatever sociological thing gave me a chip on the shoulder. but on the other hand, i want to be loved and accepted.. thats’ why i’m on stage, like a performing flea.. it’s because i would like to belong.. a part of me would like to be accepted by all facts of society and not be this loudmouth, lunatic, poet/musician. but i cannot be what i’m not.. what the hell do you do..? you want to belong but you don’t want to belong because you cannot belong..
it’s like, well, at school again. you know, at grammar school when they ask you, ‘what do you want to be” i would say, ‘well a journalist’.. i never would dare say, ‘an artist’ because in the social background that i came from i used to say to my auntie, ‘you read about artists and you worship them in museums, but you don’t want them living around the house’.. all right? so the teachers said, ‘no, something real’.. and i’d say ‘well , present me w some alternative’ .. they’d suggest vet, dr, dentist, lawyer, and i knew there was no hope in hell of me ever becoming that. so there was never anywhere for me to go
j: i always had a groups of 3-4-5 guys around with me.. in general me being the bullyboy.. i was the one that all the other boys’ parents would say.. ‘keep away from him’.. the parents instinctively recognized i was a troublemaker.. meaning i did not conform and i would influence their children, which i did.. i did my best to disrupt every friend’s home there was.. partly out of envy that i didn’t have this so called home.. but i did.. i had an auntie and an uncle and a nice suburban home.. thank you very much.. the image of me being the orphan is garbage because i was well protected by my auntie/uncle and they looked after me very well.. so.. that’s for my auntie, because she objects to a remark paul made saying that i probably was spending all this time w sean now because i never had a family life – it’s absolute rubbish..
there were five women that were my family.. five strong, intelligent, beautiful women.. five sisters.. one happened to be my mother.. my mother just couldn’t deal w life.. she was the youngest.. and she had a husband who ran away to sea and the war was on and she couldn’t cope w me and i ended up living w her elder sisters.
now those women were fantastic.. and they dominated the situation in all the family.. the men were just invisible.. i was always w the women. i always heard them talk about the men and talk about life.. and they always knew what was going on.. the men never, never ever knew..
and that was my first feminist ed.. and with that knowledge and the fact that i wasn’t tied to parents – that was the diff – i would infiltrate the other boys’ minds. i could say, ‘parents are not gods because i don’t live w mine and therefore i know’ i could say to paul ‘if you want to wear tight pants, tell your father to screw himself’.. his father knew i would say that to him. and it went for all my friends. that was the gift i got of not having parents.. i cried a lot about not having them, bit i also had the gift of awareness of not being something
d: you learned that all at an early age
j: right. most people never got out of it.. some people cannot see that their parent are still torturing them, even when they are in their 40s 50s.. they still have that stranglehold over them and their thoughts/minds..i never had that fear of and adulation for parents.. well, that’s the gift of being a so called orphan – which i never was at all.. my mother was alive and lived a 15 min walk away from me all my life. i saw her sporadically off and on all the time.. i just didn’t live w here..
j: she got killed by an off duty cop who was drunk.. she was just at the busy stop and he ran her down i a car.. so that was another big trauma for me.. i lost her twice.. once as a 5 yr old when i was moved in w my auntie. and once again at 15 when she actually, physically died.. and that was very traumatic for me.. i was at art school. so i must have been 16.. it just absolutely made me very very bitter.. the underlying chip on my shoulder that i had as a youth got really big then.. being a teen and a rock n roller and a n art student an my mother being killed just when i was reestablishing a relationship with her.. very traumatic..
j: dad gone away to see and never saw him again till i made a lot of money and he came back.. blackmailing me.. story he told media was that he had been writing to me to try and get in contact but i didn’t want to see him.. i was too upset about it all..he would turn up when i was rich/famous and not bother to turn up before.. so i wasn’t going to see him at all.. but.. i fell for it and saw him.. and we had some kind of relationship and then he died a few year later of cancer.. at 65 he married a 22 yr old secretary that had been working for me or the beatles.. and had a child.. which i thought was hopeful for a man who had lived a life of a drunk and almost a bowery bum..
d: sounds like a scene from a melodrama
j: well, everybody, like yoko was saying before – if you go into anybody’s life, there’s amazing things that went on.. it just seems so dramatic when it’s somebody so-called famous.. that’s why i like autobiographies.. it is the little decision that are made.. which change the whole person’s direction.. i don’t regret any of it.. the suffering or the happiness..
j: my childhood was not all suffering.. it was not all slum.. i was well dressed/fed/schooled.. that’s what made the beatles diff.. the fact that george, paul and john were grammar school boys, up till then all rock n rollers basically had been black and poor.. and the whites had been truckers like elvis.. buddy holly was apparently more of our ilk.. a bit of a suburban boy who had learned to read/write and knew a little more.. but the so called thing of the beatles was the fact that we were pretty will educated .. paul could have gone to uni.. he was always a good boy.. passed exams..
j: they only wanted scientists in the 50s.. and artsy fartsy people were just spies.. they still are in society..
while reading.. this (2 min video of rooftop song – today is 50th anniv):
50 years ago today was the last time The Beatles performed live.
It was on the rooftop of the Apple building in Saville Row London.
#Beatles #PaulMcCartney #JohnLennon #RingoStarr #georgeharrison #TheBeatles https://t.co/REMHeXcDrm
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/transalpino/status/1090524197690982400
j: ‘bad to me’ i wrote for bill j kramer..i was on holiday w brian epstein in spain.. where the rumors went around that he and i were having a love affair. well, it was almost a love affair , but not quite. it was never consummated. but it was a pretty intense relationship.. it was my first experience w a homosexual that i was conscious was homosexual.. i remember playing him the son ‘bad to me’.. that was a commissioned song, done for bill j, who was another of brian’s singers..
j: ‘i want to hold your hand’…. again, i as the lead voice on that. so up to that period it was mainly my domination on the record scene. although i never dominated the fan worship because the kids.. the girls always went for him. mine was a male following more than a female following..
(on help) j: it was 1965.. the movie was out of our control.. he (dick) never explained it to us).. partly maybe because we hadn’t spent a lot of time together.. and partly because by then we were smoking marijuana for breakfast during that period. nobody could communicate w us because it was all glazed eyes and giggling all the time.. in our own world..
j: the whole beatle thing was just beyond comprehension.i was eating and drinking like a pig and i was fat asa pig, dissatisfied w myself, and subconsciously i was crying for help.. i think everything comes out in the songs.. even paul’s songs now, which are apparently about nothing. the same way as handwriting analysis shows everything about yourself. or dylan, trying to hide in the subterfuge of clever hippie words, but it was always apparent – if you looked below the surface – what was being said.. resentfulness, or love, or hate – it’s apparent in all work. it’s just harder to see when it’s written in gobbledy gook
j: day trippers are people who go on a day trip right? usually on a ferryboat or something. but it was kind of – you know, your’e just a weekend hippie, get it?
j: in ‘we can work it out’ paul did the first half, i did the middle eight.. you’ve got paul writing’ we can work it out’ real optimistic, and me impatient ‘life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting my friend.
d: paul tells the story and john philosophizes
j: sure. well, i was always like that you know. i was like that before/after the beatles.. i always asked why people did things and why society was like it was..i didn’t just accept it for what it was apparently doing. i always looked below the surface..
j: in my life..a remembrance of friend and lovers of the past.. it was, i think, my first real major piece of work..the first time i consciously put my literary part of myself into the lyric.. inspired by kenneth slopf, the british journalist, and bob dylan
j: ‘here, there and everywhere’. paul’s song completely, i believe. and one of my fav songs of the beatles
j: ‘yellow submarine’ is paul’s baby. written for ringo
j: ‘she said she said’ mine.. written after an acid trip in la.. peter fonda ‘ i know what it’s like to be dead’
j: ‘for no one’ .. paul’s one of my favs of his. a nice piece of work..
j: ‘got to get you into my life’ – paul’s again. i think that as one of his best songs, too because the lyrics are good and i didn’t write them.. you see? when i say that he could write lyrics if he took the effort, here’s an ie.. it actually describes his experience taking acid.. i think that’s what he’s talking about. i couldn’t sweat to it, but i think it was a result of that..
j: ‘lucy in the sky w diamond’.. my son julian came in one day w a pic he painted about a school friend of his named lucy. he had sketched in some stars in the sky and call it ‘lucy in the sky w diamonds’.. simple..
d: the other images in the song weren’t drug inspired”
j: the images were form alice in wonderland.. alice in the boat.. buying an egg and it turns into humpty dumpty.. there was also the image of the female who would someday come save me – a ‘girl w kaleidoscope eyes’ who would come out of the sky. it turned out to be yoko, though i hadn’t met yoko yet. so maybe it should be ‘yoko in the sky w diamonds’.. it was purely unconscious that it came out to be lsd.. until somebody point it out, i never even though of it.. it’s not an acid song.. the imagery was alice in the boat.. and .. my imaginary girl that we all have..
j: ‘getting better’.. it is a diary form of writing. all that ‘i used to be cruel to my woman, i beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved’ was me.. i used to be cruel to my woman and physically – any woman. i was a hitter. i couldn’t express myself and i hit. i fought men and i hit women. that is why i am always on about peace, you see. it is the most violent people who go for love and peace. everything’s the opposite.. but i sincerely believe in love and peace. i am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. i will have to be a lot older before i can face in public how i treated women as a youngster..
j: ‘being for the benefit of mr kite’.. whole song is from a victorian poster… all kinds of stories about henry the horse being heroin. i had never seen heroin in that period.. no, it’s all just from the poster…
j: ‘when i ‘m 64’ – paul’s completely, i would never even dream of writing a song like that.. there’s some things i never think about, and that’s one of them.
j: ‘within you without you’.. one of george’s best songs. one of my favs of his too, he’s clear on that song. his mind and his music are clear. there is his innate talent; he brought that sound together..
j: ‘hey jude’.. is paul’s it’s one of his masterpieces.. i don’t think i had anything to do w it. he said it was written about julian my child. he knew i was splitting w cyn and leaving julian. he’d been like an uncle to him.. but i always heard it as a song to me. if you think about it.. yoko’s just come into the picture. he’s saying ‘hey jude – hey john’.. i know i’m sounding like one of those fans who reads things into it, but you can hear it as a song to me.. the words ‘go out and get her’ subconsciously he was saying, go ahead, leave me.. on a conscious level, he didn’t want me to go ahead.. the angel in him was saying, ‘bless you’.. the devil didn’t like it at all.. he didn’t want to lose his partner
j: ‘revolution’.. completely me. we recorded the song twice. the beatles were getting real tense w each other. i did a slow version and i wanted it out as a single; as a statement of the beatles’ position in vietnam and the beatles’ position on revolution.. for years, on beatles’ tours, brian epstein had stopped us from saying anything about vietnam or the war. and he wouldn’t allow questions about it. but on one of the last tours, i said ‘i am going to answer about the war. we can’t ignore it’ i absolutely wanted the beatles to say something about the war..
j: the first take.. well, george and paul were resentful and said it wasn’t fast enough.. now, if you go into the detail of what a hit record is/isn’t, maybe. but the beatles could have afforded to put out the slow, understandable version of ‘revolution’ as a single, whether it was gold record or a wooden record.. but because they were so upset over the yoko thing and the fact that i was again becoming as creative and dominating as i had been in the early days, after lying fallow for a couple years, it upset the applecart. i was awake again and they weren’t used to it..
d: was it yoko’s inspiration?
j: she inspired all this creation in me. it wasn’t that she inspired the songs; she inspired me.. the statement was mine.. the lyrics stand today. they’re still my feeling about politics: i want to see the plan.. count me out if it’s for violence.. don’t expect me on the barricades unless it is w flowers.. as far as overthrowing something in the name of marxism or christianity, i want to know what you’re going to do after you’ve knocked it all down. i mean, can’t we use some of it? what’s the point of bombing wall street? if you want to change the system, change the system. it’s not good shooting people..
(on words for songs coming by themselves – ie: after sleeping) j: when you’re half awake or tired and your critical facilities are switched off.. ‘nowhere man’ was the same thing.. struggling for days/hours trying to write clever lyrics.. letting it go is what the whole game is .. you put hour finger on it, it slips away right?
j: ‘blackbird’.. enough said. i gave hi a line on that one..
d: do you like the guitar work there?
j: yeah, he’s good at that stuff, you know. so is john denver..
j: ‘good night’ was written for julian the way ‘beautiful boy’ was written for sean, but give to ringo and possibly overlush..
j: ‘come together’ is me – writing obscurely around an old chuck berry thing.. it is nothing like the chuck berry song, but they took me to court because i admitted the influence once years ago.. .. ‘come together’ was an expression that tim leary had come up w for his attempt at being president or whatever he wanted to be, and he asked me to write a campaign song. i tried and i tried, but i couldn’t come up w one.. but i cam up with this.. which would’ve been no good to him – you couldn’t have a campaign song like that .. right?
leary attacked me years later, saying i ripped him off.. i didn’t rip him off.. it’s just that it turned into ‘come together’ .. one of my fav beatles or lennon tracks.. it’s funky, bluesy and i’m singing it pretty well.. you can dance to it..
j: the song (imagine) was originally inspired by yoko’s book grapefruit.. yoko actually helped a lot w the lyrics, but i wasn’t man enough to let her have credit for it.. i was still selfish enough and unaware enough to sort of take her contribution w/o acknowledging it.. i was still full of wanting my own space…
j: ‘give peace a chance’.. all we were saying..
d: a lennon – maccartney song as it is credited?
j: no, i didn’t write it w paul; but again, out of guilt, we alway had that thing that our names would go on songs even if we didn’t write them. it was never a legal deal.. just an agreement when we were 15-16.. .. after being interviewed for weeks and weeks and weeks, night and day, w yoko and me talking about peace from our beds.. i had those words coming out of my mouth or yoko’s wherever the hell they came form- and it became a song..
j: ‘cold turkey’ – is self explanatory. it was banned again all over the american radio, so it never go t off the ground. they were thinking i was promoting heroin, but instead.. they’re so stupid about drugs? they’re always arresting smugglers or kids w a few joints in their pocket. they never fact the reality. they’re not looking at the cause of the drug problem. why is everybody taking drugs? to escape from what? is life so terrible? do we live in such a terrible situation that we can’t do anything about it w/o reinforcement from alcohol or tobacco or sleeping pills? .. t.. why we take them is important, not who’s selling it to whom on the corner
j: music is everybody’s possession. it’s only publishers who think that people own it..
y: ‘give me something’ it’s the kind of song women can feel. women are like the minority groups who never feel they are getting enough.. maybe kids on the street feel the same kind of desperation. it’s there w women. it’s there w people – people dying to be fulfilled..
j: ‘beautiful boy’.. what can i say.. it’s about sean. it’s self explanatory.. the music and lyrics came at the same time..
j: ‘people say i’m lazy, dreamin my life away’.. yeah well they been saying that all my life.. read my report card.. that’s more of john’s life story than john and yoko’s.. it says, ‘he’s lazy, he’s lazy’ but i was never lazy.. how can you think if your’e doing something all the time..?
y: ‘beautiful boys’.. that speaks for itself, really. it’s a message to men. john and sean inspired me, but the third verse is about all the beautiful boys of the world. .. i had relationships w men, but it was always ‘you know where the door is’.. i didn’t really trouble to find out what their needs were, what their pains were. w john, that changed. he found out my pain, and i had to find out his pain..
j: something could change. like now i’m in the new studio, or now i’m in the middle of the ocean. who knows what’s going to happen
[there were lennon’s last words on the tapes of the playboy interview sessions]
john reminded me that we were to get together in dec to continue going over the songs we hadn’t covered yet.. we wished each other well. he said he looked forward to getting together again..
on dec 7 yoko called to say she was very pleased w the interview which had hit the stands the previous day. she said john was also pleased and excited…
the next day, dec 8, john was gone