The Lennon Audio Diaries

lennon-gruen

In the fall of 1979, John sat down with a tape recorder and began to tell his life story.  But these Lennon audio diaries were a non-starter: in true Lennon fashion, he got bored after 1.25 minutes and let his thoughts drift to his usual preoccupations—Paul McCartney, his mother Julia, and his fear of professional redundancy.

According to Rolling Stone magazine, the 13 minutes or so of audio tapes were found in a fan’s garage (?!) and were sent to a voice analysis expert by News of the World for authentication.  (They needn’t have bothered; the voice on the tapes is so clearly Lennon in every way.)

John and Julia

The tapes became notorious for the revelation that a young adolescent John copped a feel while laying with his mother on a bed.  Lennon’s account of the incident was neither ruminative or contrite: indeed, it was the casualness of it, the irresistible lure of it (“And by the way Mother was wearing a black Angora short-sleeved round neck sweater…”) that seemed more provocative than the disclosure itself.

I’m no authority on teenage male sexuality, but I wonder:  Was John’s sexualized orientation toward Julia the conflation of a young boy’s burgeoning sexuality with a son’s longing for maternal love?  Or was it (thank you, Mike Gerber) the Westermarck effect gone awry?

The Westermarck effect, or reverse sexual imprinting, is a hypothetical psychological effect through which people who live in close domestic proximity during the first few years of their lives become desensitized to sexual attraction. When proximity during this critical period does not occur—for example, where a brother and sister are brought up separately, never meeting one another—they may find one another highly sexually attractive when they meet as adults or adolescents, according to the hypothesis of genetic sexual attraction.  [source: Wikipedia]

I would be interested in reading your thoughts on this.

Company Men

John’s assessment of his contemporaries as “Company Men” is fraught with ambivalence and contradictions. Contrary to the myth of the willing and happy househusband, there is much evidence to suggest that Lennon’s decision to withdraw from music was an unhappy one, and simply the deal he struck with Ono to re-enter the marriage. My sense is that  John didn’t reject the ‘company’; he wanted the nice big corner office and a sign on the door that read C.E.O.  🙂

There are other little gems to mine in this transcript but in the interest of keeping this post short(er) I’ll leave it here.

 

Fifth of September 1979. Take one in the ongoing life story of John Winston Ono Lennon. Talk about 9 Newcastle road because that’s the first place I remember. And it’s a good place to start.

Red brick. Front room. Never used. Always curtains drawn. Picture of a horse and carriage on the wall, which ended up at Nanny’s place. Aunt Ann, who’s still living in Rockferry, Cheshire. Then she sold it. The first thing I remember is a nightmare. There was only three bedrooms upstairs, one in the front on the street, one in the back and one teeny little room in the middle. This is boring, I can’t be bothered doing it. Let’s think of something else.

Well, I was listening to the radio and Dylan’s new single or album, whatever the hell it is, came on…about “everybody’s got to get served”? [chuckles] I mean, what was it? Every…”You’ve Got to Serve Someone”…”You’ve Got to Serve Somebody.” So, he wants to be a waiter now. He wants to be a waiter for Christ. The backing was mediocre by Jerry Wexler and the singing was really pathetic and the words were just embarrassing.

So, here we sit, watching the mighty Dylan and the mighty McCartney and the mighty Jagger slide down the mountain, blood and mud in their nails. Well, that’s the way the world is, ha ha ha, that’s the way the world is, oh yes. The difference between now and a couple of years back is that whenever there was a new thing out by any of the aforesaid, I used to feel a sense of panic and competition. And now, I just feel like even the last few months it’s changed. I would send out for their albums or something just to hear it. There doesn’t seem any point now.

Let’s take a break. How do we break? Just put it off.

Still, even now, talking about them or thinking about them is still really being involved in it, because the ultimate dissociation would be not even to know they had an album out! [laughs] But now at least I get pleasure in it instead of panic. The main pleasure being of course that it’s all a load of shit. So I suppose I’ll always feel competitive with them, because they were from that same generation, but when I hear something like “Pop Muzik” by Robin Scott or the Blondie single, I really enjoy it, you know. I don’t feel competitive about it. Well, he who laughs, laughs, laughs, laughs, laughs, laughs…

I read Truman Capote’s interview with himself in this week’s or month’s, whatever, Interview magazine. And it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t any better than the one I did two years ago. Although at the time I thought I had originated it…but somebody told me Bernard Shaw had done it. I liked that remark some woman made about Bernard Shaw, that his brains had gone to his head. [chuckles]

[noise in background]

What’s that? Sounds like birds.

[bagpipes playing]

Well, of course the bagpipes got me right back to Edinburgh, which is one of my favorite dreams. And Edinburgh Festival and the Tattoo in the Castle and all these bands of the world and armies would come and march and play. And the favorites…I think they were usually the Americans because they swung like shit, apart from actually the Scots, who were really the favorites. And I always remember feeling very emotional about it. Especially where they did the bit at the end where they put all the lights out and there’s just one guy playing the bagpipes. [Speaking with a Scottish accent] ‘Lit by a lone spotlight. Och aye.’ Well, in 1981 I’ll take Sean there, because that’s a good year to go. I always felt free in Scotland. It’s probably the same feeling I get in Japan actually, it’s the feeling of being in a foreign country and therefore you’re not…you don’t belong to the…you don’t have to deal with the social mores so much. Free from everything. It’s easier to be yourself in a foreign country. I think that’s why so many people go crackers[chuckles] when they go on holidays in those places. The freedom’s too much for them.

Well, it’s easier to think than talk.

I was just remembering the time I had my hand on my mother’s tit in Number 1 Blomfield Road, in…off Mather Avenue, near Garston. It’s when I was about 14. I took the day off school, I was always doing that and hanging out in her house.  Oh we were lying on the bed and I was thinking, I wonder if I should doing anything else, you know. And it was a strange moment, because I actually had the hots, as they say, for some rather lower-class female that lived on the opposite side of the road. But I always think whether I should have done it, presuming she would have allowed it.

The thing I wanted to add about McCartney, Dylan, and Jagger, et. al., is that they’re all company men. In various disguises. But basically company men. And not forgetting the singing dwarf, Mr. Simon. And by the way Mother was wearing a black Angora short-sleeved round neck sweater, not too fluffy, maybe it was the other stuff–cashmere–that’s it, black cashmere, soft wool anyway, and I believe that tight, dark green-yellow mottled skirt. [Sighs] Hey-ho.  I always remember seeing her going down on Twitchy, or otherwise known as Robert Dykins, D-Y-K-I-N-S, Bobby Dykins, second husband although I don’t know if she ever married him.  She was under the bed sheets and I wondered into the room, `cause I was staying there, same period, 14 on, 13 on, whatever. And I can’t remember exactly what I felt…shock, I know that. `Cause I was already in to it myself..I probably wasn’t that shocked. It was the idea of going down on him, I think, sleazy little waiter, with a nervous cough and the thinning, margarine-coated hair. He used to always push his hand in the margarine or butter, usually margarine, and grease his hair with it before he left.  He used to keep his tips in a big tin on top of a cupboard in the kitchen and I used to always steal them.  [wistful] And I believe Mother got the blame.

That’s the least they can do for me. I’m sitting here waiting to be taken out to view yet another group of houses for our country retreat…this endless search for Scotland outside of New York [chuckles] within an hour of New York. Well now I’ve given up Scotland and the ocean and I’m settling for some grass and a tree.  I read somewhere..some guy saying about the sexual fantasies and urges that he had all his life when he was twenty and then when he was thirty he thought they’d cool down and then when he got into his forties he thought they’d cool down [but] they didn’t and went on to his 60’s and 70’s and he was still driveling on in his mind, when he couldn’t possibly do anything about it. So that rather…well  not depressed but I thought shit, because I was always waiting for them to lessen, but I suppose it’s going to go  on forever. Forever is a bit too strong a word, but say it’ll go on until you leave this body anyway…let’s hope, the game is to conquer it as they say, before you leave otherwise you come back for more, and who wants to come back just to come? Or maybe I read it in the Capote thing…I’ll check it.

Well, well, here we are. Aged thirty-nine, looking out of my hotel window, wondering whether to jump out or get back in bed. So, I got back in bed.



63 Comments

  1. Ruth wrote:

    Are these the same tapes where John mused about suicide, or was that in the diaries Seaman stole from the Dakota?

    • Bit off-topic, but I’ve never been so sure that Seaman didn’t get railroaded, @Ruth. Here’s a concise description of the story of the diaries:

      “After Lennon’s murder on December 8, 1980, Seaman, by his own admission, took several items from the Dakota apartments, including stereo equipment and John Lennon’s personal diaries. After his arrest, Seaman insisted that Lennon had specifically instructed him to give the diaries – handwritten and assumed to be intensely private – to his eldest son Julian in the event of his death. [And there’s more — read this comment on Beatles Bible. Now rejoining our story:] In 1983, Seaman was convicted of stealing the diaries, which had by then been returned to Yoko Ono, and sentenced to five years’ probation.

      In 2002, Seaman also lost a long and contentious court battle against Yoko Ono for copyright control of more than 300 photos he took with a camera the Lennons owned during his employ.”

    • Karen Hooper wrote:

      Yes it is Ruth–it somehow got lopped off during the edit so I added it back in.

      Apparently John was paraphrasing a song of Yoko’s (the name of which escapes me), so it probably wasn’t about thoughts of suicide.

      Edited to Add: it’s a song from the album Ultimately Intimate Universe, entitled “Looking Over From My Hotel Window.”

      • Ruth wrote:

        Thanks, Karen. “Apparently John was paraphrasing a song of Yoko’s (the name of which escapes me), so it probably wasn’t about thoughts of suicide.” That’s interesting, because IIRC Doggett, at least, uses this tape to argue that John at least flirted with the idea of suicide.

        • Karen Hooper wrote:

          Here’s the lyrics to Ono’s song:
          .

          Age 39, looking over from my hotel window,
          Blue dots and red dots skating away in the park.
          I used to be there twenty years ago,
          Huffing over a mug hot chocolate drink.

          Age 39, looking over from my hotel wind,
          Wondering if one should jump off or go to sleep.

          People tell you up is better than down,
          But they never tell you which is up and which is down.

  2. Nestor wrote:

    John Lennon best describes himself: “I’m just a jealous guy” 🙂

  3. ChelseaQW wrote:

    Good grief, John. I’m embarrassed for him. These must’ve been private, because… WTF is he babbling about? Sounds like a bit of an idiot in these. 😉
    I absolutely SHUDDER to think what was in the other diaries. I’m almost certain these were the tamest (and lamest) of them all.
    I’ve never heard of the term “Westermarck” but I always assumed that’s what was going on with John and Julia. But again… I don’t get hysterical about that stuff. It was a fleeting thing and teenage boys (and girls!) are prone to all kinds of bizarre impulses. John just lacked impulse control sometimes…

  4. Nancy Carr wrote:

    Wow is this depressing. Insisting that everything released by those he feels competitive with is “shit” and taking pleasure in what he perceives as their downfall is just sad, and he seems to know it (“the ultimate dissociation would be not even to know they had an album out!”). He sounds like the kid who took his ball and went home, and then comforts himself by repeating that everyone still playing is terrible.
    .
    If he’d had more help staying with the things that make him uncomfortable instead of shying away from them, what a difference that could have made.

    • This is what happens when you give up your self-esteem to someone else. Pre-68 Lennon didn’t react like that. He was voraciously listening to stuff, trying to beat it. He could’ve been doing that in 1979, too.
      .
      If he’d had more help staying with the things that make him uncomfortable instead of shying away from them, what a difference that could have made.
      This, for me, is the key. 1980 seemed like a turning point for him; he could’ve applied that vigor to building capacity in this way, and have become a whole person again.

      • Karen Hooper wrote:

        “If he’d had more help staying with the things that make him uncomfortable instead of shying away from them, what a difference that could have made. “This, for me, is the key. 1980 seemed like a turning point for him; he could’ve applied that vigor to building capacity in this way, and have become a whole person again.”

        .
        When I read this I’m reminded of the sword over the bed, courtesy of Yoko, to “cut ties with the past.”

    • Karen Hooper wrote:

      ..”taking pleasure in what he perceives as their downfall is just sad, and he seems to know it (“the ultimate dissociation would be not even to know they had an album out!”) )
      .
      I think John was actually calling himself out: “I say that I don’t care what they’re up to but here I am, still obsessing on their album output.” But then of course he then says it’s all shit anyway, to justify the fact that he’s still obsessing on them. Makes you dizzy just thinking about it.

      • Nancy Carr wrote:

        Karen, absolutely. I also hear that as Lennon calling himself out on that pattern and still not being able to stop it. He knows it intellectually, but his emotions are still pulling him in.

        • Karen Hooper wrote:

          “Karen, absolutely. I also hear that as Lennon calling himself out on that pattern and still not being able to stop it. He knows it intellectually, but his emotions are still pulling him in.”
          .
          Exactly–he won’t listen to what his head is telling him.

          • Ruth wrote:

            Isn’t that one of John’s major issues overall? John admitted his flaws in public, calling himself a conniver, a bully, a hitter, a “jealous guy” — but his realization alone of those qualities, and his admittance to them, changed little. He knew those traits were bad for him, and that they damaged him and his relationships, but could not seem to overcome them. Which must have made them even more infuriating.

    • Ruth wrote:

      “Insisting that everything released by those he feels competitive with is “shit” and taking pleasure in what he perceives as their downfall is just sad, and he seems to know it (“the ultimate dissociation would be not even to know they had an album out!”).”

      He’ll feign that “ultimate disassociation” in the 1980 Playboy interview — “I don’t follow Wings. I don’t give a shit what Wings is doing” — even though we loads of evidence proving otherwise. So much of John’s behavior — the gap between the image he and Yoko were projecting and reality they were living — strikes me as profoundly adolescent.

  5. DouglasLive wrote:

    This is clearly the John Lennon who destroyed the greatest group ever and regretted it for the rest of his life.

  6. Peter Deville wrote:

    I don’t think John regretted the Beatles splitting up. I also think he was genuinely disappointed in the 70s output of his peers – with justification. I don’t believe for a second he didn’t feel competitive about them though, and I think he was, deep down, equally disappointed in his own 70 output – again, with justification. I think it’s a case of him not being confidence to enter into any competition with them at that point in time. Ultimately, I think he was right about the slide down the mountain for them all, from a creative point of view. It’s exactly the kind of depressing flash of reality/clarity that hits you in middle age after you’ve been stripped of your youthful hubris, and any hubris that remains acts only as a defence mechanism rather than a means of driving you forward.

    • Karen Hooper wrote:

      “I don’t think John regretted the Beatles splitting up. I also think he was genuinely disappointed in the 70s output of his peers – with justification. I don’t believe for a second he didn’t feel competitive about them though, and I think he was, deep down, equally disappointed in his own 70 output – again, with justification. I think it’s a case of him not being confidence to enter into any competition with them at that point in time. Ultimately, I think he was right about the slide down the mountain for them all, from a creative point of view. It’s exactly the kind of depressing flash of reality/clarity that hits you in middle age after you’ve been stripped of your youthful hubris, and any hubris that remains acts only as a defence mechanism rather than a means of driving you forward.”
      .
      I’m also not convinced that John regretted splitting the band up, but I do think he had some solemn moments wondering if he should have severed ties with Paul. Can you say more about his disappointment with his contemporaries re their 70’s output? That was a stellar year for McCartney with Band On The Run, heralded by all as a great album, and The Stones sure had a great string of hits as well. I don’t personally see a slide down the mountain at all, quite the opposite. I do agree though that John lacked the confidence to enter the arena, witnessed by his comments in his diary.

      • Nancy Carr wrote:

        [Historical note: If Lennon was recording this in 1979, Wings’ most recent release was “Back to the Egg” and the Stones’ was “Some Girls.”]
        .
        I think the question of the Beatles’ breakup was very complicated for John (for them all, but I’d say especially for John). His degree of regret or relief undoubtedly fluctuated. But he knew — he was too smart not to know — that he, more than anyone, had broken up the band, and that he’d done so in a way he couldn’t be proud of. IMO that’s one of the things he can’t really let himself look at.

  7. Peter Deville wrote:

    We’re talking about a group of people who were at the forefront of music and culture in the 1960s, pushing new boundaries, leading the way. Whatever the commercial success – or even critical acclaim – that followed, you can’t say the same of the ex-Beatles, Dylan or the Stones in the 1970s. Or certainly not the second half of the decade. I think John was both disappointed in their output because he saw his own declining powers reflected in it, plus there’s a hint of confirmation bias and I-told-you-so gloating: “I was right to get out when I did.” I also think he was looking to them to inspire him to do something and was annoyed at them for failing on that level (although, if legend is to be believed, Coming Up eventually succeeded). After all, competing with Paul with the next best thing to working with Paul, which I agree was John’s most secret wish.

    • Karen Hooper wrote:

      You could very well be right, Peter. But I tend to think that, regardless of John’s perception of the current music scene, his departure from it had more to do with his insecurities and the brokered agreement with Yoko Ono: “you wanna get back with me and have a kid–you stay home and take care of it”.

  8. Water Falls wrote:

    I think with Jagger, Dylan, Simon, John would dismiss them with a “meh” and not give them much more than a passing thought, although there seems to be shades of professional jealousy that THEY were flourishing in a tough business that he quit for 5 years, claiming that he was glad to be out of the game, out of the rat race with that lame face saving story that he was deliriously happy being a househubby who got fulfillment in taking care of home, changing shitty diapers, and baking bread all day long, while his live-in maid, nanny, and cook did what…write songs?
    .
    I’m being facetious of course, but I never bought that “story”. I know he loved Sean and doted on him, and maybe baked a loaf or three but nope, not buying the party line. Anyway, of all of his contemporaries, there was no one John wanted to beat, out-shine and out-do, more than Paul McCartney. As John Green, author of Dakota Days wrote,”John wanted to be richer, his marriage happier, wanted his music career to be more successful and songs to be bigger hits than Paul’s.” This may be an oversimplication but I think John couldn’t keep pace with Paul writings songs in The Beatles, so (he didn’t quit) he broke up the band. He couldn’t keep up with Paul being a hit making machine, so John quit music all together……and was all the more miserable for it. I think one of the reasons he snapped on Paul that day Paul showed up unannounced, with a guitar slung across his back was, John was embarrassed that Paul could see him, his boyhood hero, minus his fig leaf, unproductive, the once great John Lennon, who could do whatever the f**k he wanted, reduced to asking “Mother may I?” from Yoko to do anything. John’s humiliation must have felt indescribable, so he lashed out at Paul. Hurt and rejected him……again. Wasn’t this also the time he asked Paul to ” Think of me now and again old friend.”? It may have been his way of trying to soothe the hurt, knowing Paul’s pride would not allow him to go back without a direct invitation from John, and maybe not even then. I think that is why John always had Paul in the back of his mind, close to the surface but had to mute himself so as to not upset Yoko. Full disclosure, I don’t care much for Yoko. I also get so pissed about how mean John could be especially towards Paul (& Julian & Cynthia) but I truely believed that he loved Paul til the end of his life. Tacky as this may sound I even imagine John had a Citizen Kane “rosebud” moment at the end of his life. As for John coping a feel of his mother’s breast, the “Westermarck” theory sounds reasonable to me. As for John’s diaries, I wonder if Seaman ever thought, “I should have just given the damn journals to Julian, like John asked.” It appears that Yoko wasn’t even aware of their existance and probably would have had a harder time proving that John didn’t just give them to Julian himself.

    • Karen Hooper wrote:

      “…claiming that he was glad to be out of the game, out of the rat race with that lame face saving story that he was deliriously happy being a househubby who got fulfillment in taking care of home, changing shitty diapers, and baking bread all day long, while his live-in maid, nanny, and cook did what…write songs?”
      .
      …and it’s utterly amazing that this official version seems to still be universally accepted, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

      • linda a. wrote:

        and it’s utterly amazing that this official version seems to still be universally accepted, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.

        It seems everything John said becomes the official version and universally accepted, despite all evidence to the contrary. It’s frustrating.

        • ChelseaQW wrote:

          “It seems everything John said becomes the official version and universally accepted, despite all evidence to the contrary. It’s frustrating.”

          A-fucking-MEN! It’s that Cult of Personality thing. He was so charismatic, people treat him like an infallible prophet. SO. ANNOYING.

          • Water Falls wrote:

            “A-fucking-MEN! It’s that Cult of Personality thing. He was so charismatic, people treat him like an infallible prophet. SO. ANNOYING.”
            .
            When on Youtube, if a commenter heaps divine like powers and worshipful praise on Lennon, I’ll throw cold water on the notion of it, comment on his very human flaws, and try to remind those enthralled that the REAL John Lennon hated the pressures, and adulation of Beatlemania and the expectations of fans assigning godlike powers on the guys. I also tell them that the REAL John Lennon would hate Lennonmania. Sometimes I get bashed, cursed out, because people don’t want their hero’s or “gods” humanized. Good thing I have a thick skin. I also can dish as well as take but it can really get tiring how base a level one can sink to.
            I blame Yoko for polishing up and blanketing the world for the last 35 years, with her accomplices in the media for the mythical Saint John Lennon Christ, Murdered Martyr Crusader for Peace, Love & Understanding, with Yoko starring as his Chosen Wife, Self Sacrificing, For The Greater Good Of Humanity & Keeper Of The Flame
            (excuse me……goes to hurl)……sorry to expose y’all to my ugly cynical side.

      • Contrary to the conventional cynicism, fans generally LIKE their heroes and want them to be happy. We all knew that John had retired/was in seclusion, so naturally we wanted that to be his choice, something positive for him.

        And also: by putting forth the story of raising a child, Lennon was tapping into a larger generational trend–the Boomers who were 14 in 1964 were 30 in 1980, and their minds were naturally turning towards the pursuits of adulthood–balancing work and family. John’s immaturity post 1968 was an advantage in his connecting with rock fans; just as McCartney’s maturity was a disadvantage.

        The ballad of John and Yoko persists because it turns John’s life into a success, and we fans want that. And the St. John myth performs the same function, after his murder.

        And THIS is why Lester Bangs pissed me off last month; far from being selfish children hating our heroes if they dare to change, Beatles fans if anything err in the other direction, happily swallowing any story if it makes our favorite guys happy, peaceful and contented. Lester Bangs clearly hated “sell outs” and squares, but beatlefans generally don’t and haven’t. Because our feeling towards the Fabs is warmth and gratitude. If John says he’s hsppy with Yoko, even if he sure looks and sounds like a junkie, then we guess he’s happy. And if he says he was home baking bread, even with a raft of servants, then goddammit he was baking bread. It’s not credulity, I’m convinced, but a kind of tenderness and well wishing that has existed since 1964, and went into overdrive after 1980.

        • Karen Hooper wrote:

          “The ballad of John and Yoko persists because it turns John’s life into a success, and we fans want that. And the St. John myth performs the same function, after his murder.”
          .
          You raise an interesting point, MG: the JohnandYoko ballad only succeeds because of John’s death. No-one really bought it or took it seriously before 1980. When John was killed, a peculiar kind of fan base emerged that hadn’t really existed before, largely due to Yoko’s one-woman crusade to reinvent John in her own image. These new fans worship the meme, the re-invention, and know little of the real artist.

        • Nancy Carr wrote:

          Michael, I think your reading of why the Ballad of John and Yoko version of history is embraced by many fans makes great psychological sense. I share your view that the Ballad narrative serves to make Lennon’s trajectory bearable.
          .
          It reminds me of Marlowe’s decision, in “Heart of Darkness,” not to tell Kurtz’s fiancee what actually happened to Kurtz in the jungle because the reality is “too dark–too dark altogether.”

    • ChelseaQW wrote:

      I like you, Water Falls! Please post more. 🙂

  9. Water Falls wrote:

    @Karen, well with 35 years since Lennon’s death, Yoko has had plenty of time to revise, polish, and blanket the world with this perspective of their private lives. That tired narrative of John becoming a ‘feminist’ new man…and SHE credited as the ‘wise’ woman who opened him up, patiently guided and showed him the way to view women with appreciation and respect…while conveniently ignoring the ongoing mistreatment and disrespect of Cynthia and Julian. UGH! The blatant hypocrisy! But I will spare y’all the rant! I won’t get started.
    @ChelseaQW, I like you too. Matter of fact I really like all of you. I learn so much from the discussions here.
    As for posting more, I hope you won’t regret saying that. I wanted to add to my last comment about how I believe John constantly thought of Paul, missed him terribly, and wanted to get word to him via song that he wanted to reunite, get back together and of course he used code, like Paul, to get the message across.
    The Double Fantasy song, ‘Just Like Starting Over’, to me, this song is to, for, and about Paul (and John),
    NOT YOKO! I know J&P still talked on the phone from time to time, you’d think John would’ve just told him, “Hey Paul, want to work on something together again?” Or had his personal assistant call him or send him a letter John wrote to him…hell IDK. Maybe since the way John kicked Paul out the last time they were face to face, he was afraid Paul would reject, or turn him down. SMH. Anyway, here goes: John sings in an Elvis, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison kind a way. Early Rock n Rollers the Liverpool lads admired.
    .
    our life (In My Life) together…is so precious…together…(Come Together)
    we have grown (from boys to men together)…
    we have gro Oa on! (disappointments, hangover misery. J knew P would “get it”)
    although our love…is still special…let’s take a chance and fly away (as Beatles they did a lot of flying, even had a song called “Flying” on MMT album) somewhere (Here, There, & Everywhere) alone
    it’s been too long since we took the time…no one’s to blame, i know time flies so quickly(Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting my friend) but when i see you darlin’ (Oh Darling!) it’s like we’re both are
    falling (If I Fell) in love again, it’ll be just like starting over…starting over!
    everyday (Every Night Paul’s song) we use to make it love, why can’t we be making love nice and easy
    (J&P LOVED making music together, everyday/night, it came so easy. 3hrs boom! another song! slash alert 😉
    it’s time to spread our WINGS (Paul’s band) and fly, don’t let ANOTHER DAY (Paul’s song) go by, MY LOVE (Paul’s song) it’ll be, just like starting over…starting over!
    why don’t take off alone…take a trip somewhere far, far away (J&P took off to Scotland, Nerk Twins)
    we’ll be together all alone again…like we use to in the early days (Alone together in Paris 1961, before fame)
    well well darlin’!
    repeat 2nd verse… background singers: oohing & ahhing…John shouts at the end of verse:LOOKOUT!
    repeat 1st verse … we have grown…(John moans) Umm! we have groan!(Like Elvis’s Don’t Be Cruel, Umm)
    background singers: Oohs and Ahhs…(my McLennon mind shipping & slashing in overdrive)
    starting over!…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ooh…ah…ah…ah
    John: “ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah! ah!………..(me: okay John…lmao!!)
    .
    I love the idea of McLennon…..I believe they loved each other, more than brotherly, even if not sexually, definitely romantically. And their love, their “soulmate-ness” was truely beautiful.

  10. Peter Deville wrote:

    Ah, it’s not as black and white as John being genuinely happy/miserable and in denial about being out of the game and the Ballad of John and Yoko being either true or false. It’s a wide spectrum of emotions we’re dealing with. It’s true life, not a film or story with a director or author making the ultimate judgment.

    I can claim, possibly tenuously, some insight into John’s psyche at this time as I made a very similar move in recent years, giving up my career (although, admittedly ‘keeping my hand in’ working from home from time to time) to care for my young daughters, with my wife becoming the main breadwinner. It was without doubt the best decision I ever made and looking back, it was the happiest time of my life. And yet, it was LIFE. I was often stressed, anxious, annoyed and cranky – even hopeless sometimes. I also alternated between thanking every star in the sky I was ‘out of the game’ (genuinely) and looking enviously at the career progression of my former colleagues. Somehow I felt less important, less relevant, less of a ‘somebody’ while also knowing it wasn’t really true and wondering how I ever thought of my former being job as really mattering beyond getting paid.

    Now I’m ‘back in the game’. Well, I know what true happiness was. And it doesn’t mean being happy all the time or living without regrets about the present situation.

    Just putting that out there.

    • Nancy Carr wrote:

      That’s a very good point, Peter –thanks for your perspective. I bet it was more gray than black or white.

    • Karen Hooper wrote:

      .
      Certainly not black and white @Peter, absolutely.
      .
      But I think the difference is that you weren’t an uber rock star with tremendous emotional baggage and a history of drug abuse, married to a woman who needed to amputate your history so that she could enhance her own sense of self-importance (I’m taking a leap of faith on the last part. 😉 ). This makes the life change qualitatively different for John, IMO.

  11. Peter Deville wrote:

    Well, Karen, quite. Another difference is that the change did wonders for my creativity. But that’s another story. However, I think another point to make is that even if John was unhappy/dissatisfied/unfulfilled during this period of his life, it’s unlikely it was any more so than he was previously. There’s an argument to be made that even if we take the worst of the reports of this time, it still represents a relative uplift in John’s psychological wellbeing. The major difference being his lack of creative output – which might be real reason why we feel shortchanged by the story. I’d say there’s a sizeable chance that John’s work makes us happier than it made him.

    • Nancy Carr wrote:

      I don’t know ~ so many non-posed pictures show John looking happy while in the studio, etc. during the early and mid 60s that I think his work may have made him happier than he later said it did. And I recall from reading George Martin’s and Geoff Emerick’s books that while working he was focused and in “flow” mode.I can believe that this changed in the late 60s, though.

    • Karen Hooper wrote:

      “There’s an argument to be made that even if we take the worst of the reports of this time, it still represents a relative uplift in John’s psychological wellbeing.”
      .
      I think that’s where we disagree, Peter. By all accounts, John’s househusband years were actually kind of crappy. It wasn’t until he was back in the studio that he seemed more content.

      • Peter Deville wrote:

        Could be, Nancy and Karen. Just saying, from my experience, sometimes happiness is what happens to you while your ego is busy making other plans. But then again, when my heart told me my work never really mattered in the first place, my head knew it to be true. When John’s head told him his work never really mattered in the first place, surely his heart knew that was a lie. So who knows.

  12. Water Falls wrote:

    Another point to be made is, even if John was glad to be out from under the pressure of being in the game, even if he found some joy and contentment with being with his baby son, always lurking underneath the surface of it all, was the guilt he felt, tried to ignore, but couldn’t escape, of his other son, who he hadn’t connected with, who he wasn’t there for, who still needed him, who’s biological connection couldn’t ever be severed, and who Yoko had showed, she really didn’t want to be bothered with. The symbolic sword or dagger the hung over John and Yoko’s bed that was suppose to sever John from his past, must have felt very much like a Sword of Damocles. On one side Yoko and Sean all present and future, on the other side the nagging guilt lurking in his conscience regarding a son forever connected to his past. I’m no psychologist or psychiatrist, but even I know that being between that particular rock and hard place, had to be such a source of discomfort, that for John there could be no conflict free happiness, even being out of the game.

  13. Hologram Sam wrote:

    I wonder if I am naive because I believe the 1980s would have been a time for John to heal the damage he’d done with his older son, his first wife, his family in Liverpool and his writing partner. He was writing letters to England; reconnecting with family. He was writing “Just Like Starting Over” (for Paul, I agree, not Yoko). He was planning a tour. I think he was ready for a great awakening.
    .
    Or maybe not… maybe he would have rolled over and gone back to sleep. Who can say?

    • Karen Hooper wrote:

      I wonder if I am naive because I believe the 1980s would have been a time for John to heal the damage he’d done with his older son, his first wife, his family in Liverpool and his writing partner. He was writing letters to England; reconnecting with family. He was writing “Just Like Starting Over” (for Paul, I agree, not Yoko). He was planning a tour. I think he was ready for a great awakening.Or maybe not… maybe he would have rolled over and gone back to sleep. Who can say?

      .
      Your last line made me chuckle–John was so unpredictable.

      • I happen to agree with you, @Sam, but the wild-card here is John’s own neurology. In my optimistic moments, I think of that future, and then of John getting some competent help for his psychological difficulties, so that he could maintain that happy productivity and connection.

  14. Dan wrote:

    ” [Speaking with a Scottish accent] ‘Lit by a lone spotlight. Hawk-eye.’ ”

    Small point – he actually says “Och aye”, which is a stereotypical Scottish expression meaning ‘oh yes’.

  15. Ruthie Rader wrote:

    Why is it that John Lennon always seemed to talk about several things at once? He spoke in circles…jumping from one subject to another subject and back again as if his brain was caught in a weird rotation. Sometimes I
    find it difficult to follow his line of thinking. I wonder: Was it the drugs that had something to do with that?

    • Karen Hooper wrote:

      “Why is it that John Lennon always seemed to talk about several things at once? He spoke in circles…”
      .
      The tapes were recorded at different times over days. There’s a lot of stops and starts, which would account for the seeming flights of fancy.

  16. Rose Decatur wrote:

    I don’t know about the Westermarck effect with John, but it’s strange to me that Paul’s confession to Barry Miles in Many Years from Now of having vaguely sexual feelings towards his mother never got traction:

    “At night there was one moment when she would pass our bedroom door in underwear, which was the only time I would ever see that, and I used to get sexually aroused. Just a funny little bit. I mean, it never went beyond that but I was quite proud of it, I thought, ‘That’s pretty good.’ It’s not everyone’s mum that’s got the power to arouse. I never saw her naked. I saw my father naked once or twice in the bath, and it was quite a shock. You just didn’t see your parents naked.”

    Having never been a teenage boy, I have no idea if that’s normal. But considering the information we have, Paul’s adult sexuality seems normal, so I would put down both his experience (and John’s) perhaps a side effect of being an adolescent boy in the pre-Information Age. If your hormones are raging and your first/only exposure to an unclothed woman for a long time is your mother, perhaps that might arouse (ah hem) certain feelings. But again, I was never an adolescent boy in that time and place.

    • Karen Hooper wrote:

      I recall that as well, Rose, thanks for the quote.
      .
      Perhaps the difference between the two circumstances is that Paul still saw his mom as “Mom”, whereas John saw Julia as a kind of paramour.

    • Having been an adolescent boy in the pre-Information Age, I can tell you two things:
      1) you are quite, ahem, sensitized to any manifestation of the female form (if that’s what you’re into). Even painting and sculpture. Actual in-person female nudity is actually quite overwhelming, so glimpses are particularly powerful. They don’t burn out your circuits.
      2) that limbic reaction — “Woman in underwear! Whoopee!” — is usually followed by some form of Westermarck Effect, where a sense of revulsion hits you — “What am I thinking? That’s my (insert female relative here)!” The strength of the revulsion is proportional to the closeness of the person. If it’s your mom, it’s a lot; if it’s someone more distant, or someone you don’t know well, it’s less. If it’s a female cousin your own age who you haven’t seen since you were both babies and who doesn’t look like your family, it’s very light.

      Of course, this was only my personal experience. The thing to keep in mind about John’s comment was that the KID John restrained himself; he had a fully functional psyche in that regard. It was the adult John — the John who’d lived a very jaded life — that pondered making a move on Julia.

      • Karen Hooper wrote:

        Thanks for your perspective MG–and you make an excellent point about adolescent-raging-hormones John vs the adult John.
        .
        I wonder, though, how it was that the adolescent John was even in bed with Julia in the first place, with his hand on her breast. Getting a boner from seeing Ma in her undies seems very different than laying in bed with her and groping her lady parts.

        • Drink, perhaps?

          Like her son, Julia didn’t seem to have the most well-ordered life or a plethora of good judgment. Plus — and this is why people remember that story and we had to be reminded of Paul’s — there was a co-conspirator aspect to John and Julia.

    • ChelseaQW wrote:

      My favorite part of that quote is how Paul was “proud” of his mom for being sexy! What a bizarre and wonderful person he is. To me, he sounds very objective, almost detached from the experience. He definitely doesn’t sound disturbed by it.

      • Karen Hooper wrote:

        I think he was proud of getting a hard-on. 😉

      • “My favorite part of that quote is how Paul was “proud” of his mom for being sexy!”

        As the son of a hot mom —

        [Just yelled over to my wife, “Would you say my mom’s hot?”
        Wife: “I guess I would say your mom is hot. If I was forced to give an answer.”
        Me: “I am forcing you. Thank you. As you were.”]

        — a son has two choices when faced with the unavoidable fact of your mom’s hotness: constant squick-out, or a sort of pride. Squick-out gets awfully boring. Pride’s kind of a compliment-once-removed. Pride wins.

  17. Lynda wrote:

    “Why is it that John Lennon always seemed to talk about several things at once? He spoke in circles…”
    .
    The tapes were recorded at different times over days. There’s a lot of stops and starts, which would account for the seeming flights of fancy.”

    May be, but I know people who think in the same fashion, almost all of them very creative folks. While most of us compartmentalize to some degree, they don’t seem to. Everything in their brain is all higgledy-piggledy and its all related. So toss up the idea of a softball and you might just move on to a discussion of the mass of plastic in the ocean and then on to their favorite band. You will never know the connection.