Latest posts by Michael Gerber (see all)
- From Faith Current: “The Sacred Ordinary: St. Peter’s Church Hall” - May 1, 2023
- A brief (?) hiatus - April 22, 2023
- Something Happened - March 6, 2023
I‘ve been wrong before, but the man doesn’t look like Lennon to me, I’ve never seen any other shots from this shoot, there are no historical markers to check, and the woman’s hair seems to hide her face rather too conveniently. Is this really a shot of John kneeling before Yoko? What say you, commentariat?
But then again, I’m a big believer in the awesome power of Photoshop…
Come to think of it, his hands do look like Lennon’s. And his coloring, too…I’m flummoxed.
Looks pretty legit to me. According to this person, it was taken that horrible day after Nixon’s re-election in 1972. We all know the story of what John had allegedly done the evening before, so he was apparently begging Yoko’s forgiveness. (?)
This is a photoshoot, early in the morning. The night before Lennon slept with another woman. And Yoko Ono already knew it when the picture was take. After that argument Ono put away Lennon which leaved to United States and started the period a.k.a. “the lost weekend”. This story is told in a recent documentary. Bye
If it’s legitimate, this picture falls for me into the cringe-inducing category of occasions on which John publicly abases himself before Yoko, in songs and photos. The combination of oversharing and the lack of apparent reciprocity (dearth of photos or songs in which Yoko adopts this level of submission toward John) puts me off. If they intended this kind of thing as a feminist statement — and based on interviews, they may have — I don’t think it works.
By the way, Mike, I finished “Life After Death for Beginners” and enjoyed it very much. The conversations between characters were the best part, especially those between the former Ravins. I’d read another whole book of the four of them talking together!
I think this is a genuine picture. (But then Mike tends to take a harder line than do I on these things: vide our discussion of the real-or-fake “Revolution 1” outtake.) It does look like John to me (and think of all the known-to-be genuine photos that look even LESS like him), and it is perfectly in line with the dual public image they cultivated. Except for John’s clothing, there is really nothing here that isn’t memorialized in the Annie Leibovitz “Rolling Stone” cover 6-7 years hence.
And I agree with Nancy that John’s self-abasement before “Mother” is off-putting. I might substitute the word “excruciating.” Nothing in my “Handbook of Liberated Modern Maleness” (5th rev. ed.) says you have to avow your own worthlessness to bolster feminist principles.
This comment has been removed by the author.
This comment has been removed by the author.
This comment has been removed by the author.
(Breaking this comment into two, because it’s too large.)
Cara, you convinced me. I think it’s real.
Nancy, SO GLAD you enjoyed the book! Shout it from the rooftops–I’ve got another one brewing. At this early stage, I think a big portion will take place in the 60s (a lot of people really liked The Ravins bits). Now it totally depends on whether Book One makes enough to pay for Book Two’s writing time. So please spread the word.
Nancy and Devin, I’m with you. J&Y used “feminism” to defend behavior they knew was immature and compulsive. Would people respect and admire Yoko for publicly kneeling in front of John? What J&Y call “feminism” is just a different kind of sexism, and my feminist mamma taught me that sexism is bullshit.
Only two people know the true story of any relationship, and I suspect that the real “ballad of John and Yoko” was much more complex than the made-for-media version. Try this “Double Fantasy” on for size:
“I know I hurt you then
But hell, that was way back when
Well, do you still have to carry that cross?”
“Now you’re giving me your window smile
I’m moving on, moving on
It’s getting phony.”
But if J&Y’s relationship truly was anything like this photograph or Leibovitz’s, it didn’t transcend gender and power, it was obsessed with it. It’s a 12-year-old petulantly defying his overstrict Auntie, than feeling guilty and groveling. And it’s another 12-year-old begging for food and mourning her lost wealth and status, determined to get it back by showing everybody that this important man kowtows to her.
Lennon’s bio we all know, but Ono’s story–such as anybody has dug it out–is equally interesting, and equally revealing. Whenever one sees somebody working out their core traumas in public, the only appropriate reaction is compassion. Life is difficult, and everybody deserves Peace.
I definitely think it looks legit and don’t see any reason to think there’s anything photoshopping going on.
Whenever one sees somebody working out their core traumas in public, the only appropriate reaction is compassion.
I, for one, always admired their bravery for doing such things publicly. John was a genuinely passionate person, and he couldn’t help but express it. Who else had the chutzpah that these two showed?
I knew I had seen that photo before… and even though you’re already convinced, I have some more evidence for you. In his interview for the LENNONYC podcasts, Bob Gruen confirms that he took the picture after that dark November night, and that John was indeed begging Yoko’s forgiveness. Must be in his book?
Of course it’s legit. I’ve seen loads of photos from this day. It’s the day after the “Nixon incident” – which according to legend, instigated the “Lost Weekend” episode.
Similar shot,same place,clothes etc on reverse of Approvimatley Infinite Universe too.
Shows that it didnt sell well or is not seen often!!
I do not know whether it’s just me or if everybody else experiencing problems with your site.
It appears as though some of the written text on your content are running
off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and
let me know if this is happening to them too? This could be a
issue with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen previously.
I think it’s real, and people need to lighten up. John is simply listening to the ground but without a stethoscope this time and with Yoko in the picture. I love this one of them which is apparently on the same day:
Hi, to answer your question: I’m not have the same problem.
Sadly, this is a real picture taken by Bob Gruen. In 1972 John, Yoko and others were attending a get together at Jerry Rubin’s apt. to watch the election results. John was drunk or high, grabs a woman at the party, and then went into the bedroom and they proceeded to supposedly have loud sex. Yoko was horrified and humiliated. She wrote the song Death of Samantha as a result.
The above photograph of Lennon kneeling at her feet was taking a short time after the party.
“She wrote the song Death of Samantha as a result.”
Now THAT is interesting, eh @Michael Bleicher?
@Michael The lines “I know I hurt you then/But hell, that was way back when/Well, do you still have to carry that cross? Drop it!” from ‘I’m Losing You’ also apparently refer to the election party incident.
I don’t think Yoko ever forgive John for that.
I think it was a fundamental, public defiance of the private terms of their relationship, which I don’t think I need to spell out. And I think her fury remains to this day.
Of course Sean is not going to clock any of this because what kid really wants to think about their parents’ sex lives? I think he genuinely believes his mom is a woman victimized by her geniusness, and his dad was mostly a shit. The reality was much, much more complicated; and both John and Yoko were engaging in these relationship styles in a pre-internet world, where there was very little instruction as to what was consensual/healthy, and what was red flag/abuse. The fact that Gruen was asked to take this picture, and that it was disseminated, speaks volumes. It was penance, and I think Lennon performed penance in various forms for the rest of his too-short life.
Yes, Michael, I think the incident was a watershed for their relationship. It was the catalyst for the lost weekend and also set the context for the 75-80 at the Dakota. I think on some level she despised John after that point (I mean, well, fair enough) and punished him passive-aggressively, while John fluctuated between penitence for his behaviour and bitterness at the lack of absolution.
What I find interesting is that it’s all there on Double Fantasy when you analyse it and ignore the way it was sold – especially if you accept that Yes, I’m Your Angel, for example, isn’t about John. There’s a weird atmosphere to that album, like visiting a couple after they’ve had a row and they’re trying to put on a front while also having subtle digs at each other. Although some of it’s not very subtle.
I absolutely agree. I’m not really that into Double Fantasy as music (I prefer the material on Milk and Honey overall), but it’s deeply fascinating as a John/Yoko document.
:defiance of the private terms of their relationship, which I don’t think I need to spell out” – actually, I’d be grateful if you did spell it out, I don’t qite know what you mean. And the subject is interesting! Also, I am not sure to what you are referring by “abuse”, I don’t know much about that, but I would guess that the abuse in that marriage was mutual, whether physical (hopefully not) or mental (I am sure there was lots of that, sadly, on both parts).
I don’t like Yoko, just can’t make myself like her, but all four Beatles often treated their women so horribly, that sometimes I think: “Good for you, Yoko, at least one of them paid!” :).
I want to speak carefully and respectfully, because it’s so speculative. We cannot know for sure unless Yoko told us, or there was a genuine document of some sort from that time, but after years of listening to the sex podcaster Dan Savage, my instinct is that John and Yoko were involved in some flavor of power exchange relationship, specifically dominance/submission (D/s), with Yoko as the domme and John as the sub. It certainly seems to have been what we’d call today a FLR (female-led relationship). The years of JohnandYoko seem to be close to a total power exchange; John disappeared into Yoko; he refused to act, or even talk, in Apple meetings, for example. The parameters of how they were with each other wax and wane over time, but after Yoko’s on the scene, John is definitely living a different way than before. His marriage with Yoko is VERY different from his marriage with Cynthia.
This photo, and the Lebowitz one, are both classic D/s coding–as is the “Mother/Mother Superior” thing; as is “Yoko looks at all men as assistants.” And so forth. There is no value judgment on this from me, if they were both happy and consenting, it’s nobody’s business but theirs. There’s no opinion for any outsider to have, any more than if John liked to wear a top hat when he took a bath.
But some of what we know about John suggests that, at least at times after 1968, he was not thriving. He was isolated, or addictive, or anorexic. Was this related to his relationship with Yoko? Hard to say, but these are all signals that something is seriously out of whack with HIM. As to my use of the term “abuse,” Savage is always going on about how D/s can mask inappropriate behavior, especially if one or both partners isn’t very experienced or disciplined (meaning: the dom/me mistreats the sub under the guise of domination). John did not always seem to thrive, physically/spiritually/creatively, while he was with Yoko, and that is an indication that perhaps her treatment of him–within a D/s dynamic or not–was perhaps flawed in some way. I suspect, given her resistence to therapy, that she had lots of unresolved issues of her own that came out in how she treated her husband. As with us all, which is why good mental health, good self-care, and avoiding addiction is so important.
I suspect that they fell into something powerful that worked for them for a time, but then got out of whack, and both started acting out in hurtful ways. (Election Night ’72 leads to the Lost Weekend leads to…etc) If they were doing this today, there are apparently therapists and certainly tons of websites and even podcasts like Dan’s Savage Lovecast to help keep things mutually respectful and healthy. Heck, I bet there are even classes. But in 1968, or ’72, or ’78, or ’80? People doing stuff like that were on their own. I think they both did the best they could with a difficult partner…and were making it up as they went along.
As with all things John and Yoko, love and appreciation is the proper mindset. They did the best they could.
Thanks for the answer! You know, I did start with love and appreciation for both of them, but then gradually I felt less and less of both. But I was just wondering, in this situation with John having sex with that other woman at the party: isn’t it exactly the same what John and Yoko did to Cynthia? The same kind of brutal humiliation and a complete lack of respect and consideration? So what was so different in what John did to Yoko, and why should we be more appalled by this? If it was OK for both of them to trample all over Cynthia, there is nothing surprising in what John did to Yoko. I mean I know there is a power difference, Cynthia never seemed to have that power over John (no matter what kind of power it was), but while I do of course think that what John did was unforgivable, I can’t help but feel a liitle bit of nasty satisfaction. And if Yoko then made him pay and pay, there is satisfaction in this as well.
I just wonder how badly f’cked up must John have been to do something like that at a party…with Yoko and mutual friends in the next room. And what did he think it would result in? Really goes to show just how blindly and dangerously impulsive he could be and just totally not understand the consequences of his actions. John doing what he did that election night is extreme even for a rock star. Most of them even the worst of the lot are not having sex just with other random women while their wives are within earshot. What John did is very very cruel and frankly…no woman would or should ever get over it. To many it would absolutely be the last straw. From there on in whatever Yoko felt for John pre election night 72 was gone never to return…I’m sure she still loved him in some ways but absolutely she never trusted him and she felt totally justified having whatever affairs that she wanted with a clear conscious. She did go back…she needed him financially and to maintain her own celebrity and relevance, but nothing was ever the same between them after
The only thing in Beatledom that comes close is George sleeping with Ringo’s wife which also shows just unbelievably poor judgement
@Dave, FWIW I really resist applying my own personal morality–or relationships–to the behavior of rockstars and famous people, especially in the countercultural era. I would say that what John did was probably NOT particularly extreme for a rockstar in 1972. From the Bag One lithographs alone, we know that they weren’t monogamous. Though clearly John crossed some kind of line here with Yoko, based on what we know.
That event certainly seems like very poor judgment at best–and a cruel attempt to humiliate his wife at worst. But Yoko’s simple version begs a couple of questions:
1) Why didn’t someone go in/pound on the door to get them to stop, once it was going on?
2) Why didn’t YOKO do that?
3) Failing 2), why didn’t she leave?
Yoko was not some awkward 16 year old at a house party with a bad boyfriend. She is YOKO ONO, world famous artist wife of a world famous husband. She had every right to knock that fucking door down…or grab some other guy and do the same, or go home and change the locks, or one of a million things she could’ve done, and frankly I find it rather difficult to believe that such a self-possessed and powerful person would’ve just sat there. I wouldn’t have. Doesn’t sound like you would have, either.
All of which suggests to me: she’s not telling us the full story.
Do we have a right to the full story? No. That’s their personal business…except that they were exceptionally forthcoming about their sex lives to the public, and even about this particular incident, so we might have some grounds to say, “Okay, what was really going on? Were you guys exclusive? Was he high? Were you high? Was this a girlfriend or some random person? What did SHE have to say about it?”
All I’m comfortable saying is, it happened; Yoko really didn’t like it; John apologized and felt guilty; and even eight years later it was still an issue in their marriage. That is more evidence that the Ballad was, at best, a wish.
The beginning of “Watching the Wheels” (People say I’m lazy…”) always reminded me of the beginning of “Death of Samantha” (“People say I’m a cool chick”). It’s not as noticeable as the “Thinking of Linking” riff at the beginning of “Woman,” but it makes me wonder how many other little musical and lyrical references lurk in Lennon’s songs. Everyone knows about “Run for Your Life” and “Come Together “ but there are lots more. I’m not a huge fan of Yoko’s music, but if John had dubbed his voice over those backing tracks, it would be a great album, definitely better than “Min Games” or “Walls and Bridges.”