Sean to play "Double Fantasy": cool or creepy?

yoko-ono-sean-lennon-grammiesNANCY CARR • According to this article in the New Musical Express, Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon will be touring together this summer, with one of the scheduled events being the performance of Double Fantasy in its entirety. (That will be at the Royal Festival Hall  in London on June 23, closing out the Meltdown Festival.)

Not sure how I feel about this.

On the one hand, I think it’s great for artists to play music they’ve worked on live for people who will enjoy it—especially when that music wasn’t played live when it was released. For that reason I’m all in favor of Paul McCartney playing Beatles songs live, especially the ones from the studio years that audiences never got to hear performed. And in general, I think music of every era can and should be played live. Saying it shouldn’t be is, to me, like saying records from a given era shouldn’t be played any more. So overall, more power to Yoko for being willing to kick it out with her music at 80.

But having Sean Lennon slotted into Double Fantasy does seem rather odd, because it was so obviously conceived as an album about his parents’ marriage. The article doesn’t say if Sean will be singing John’s parts, and if he isn’t, then I can feel unambiguously positive about this performance. Having the son sub for the father in songs like “Woman” and “Dear Yoko”—now that would make me, at least, uncomfortable.

The NME article is headlined “Being married to a Beatle is harder than being a politician’s wife,” a quote from Yoko. I think it may be even harder being the child of Beatle, at least if you want to be a musician. So easy to get sucked into the force field surrounding your uber-famous parent and so hard to get out. It reminds me of what Michael said in this post about Philip Norman’s treatment of Sean in John Lennon: The Life. Michael remarked that “the section with Sean turns the poor guy into just another talking-point: Sean as Brand Extension, which demeans the father and stunts the son. Who knows what neat things Sean might do, if he could actually exist in the context of himself? He has that right, and I hope he gets it someday.”

So is Sean Lennon’s participating in a live performance of Double Fantasy a good or bad idea? Share your thoughts . . . .

 

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16 Comments

  1. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    Creepy.

    It’s too bad that Sean Lennon can’t seem to establish an identity of his own. And it’s also odd how much he goes out of his way to dress like Dad, wear glasses like Dad, style his hair like Dad. We live in an era of corrected vision, contacts, laser. If he wanted to be his own man, and carve out his own identity, he wouldn’t try so hard to copy Dad.

    Interestingly, on stage with his mother, Sean is the one with all the musical chops. He’s basically running the show while she howls away. But it’s her who gets the attention, even though he’s doing all the work.

    — Drew

  2. Avatar king kevin wrote:

    It is kind of creepy, but somehow I’m not surprised. Sean seems like a nice guy, and I wish him the best. I don’t think I would expose myself to the inevitable criticism by even being a singer, much less by singing John’s songs. His voice is fine, but it certainly isn’t great. He is in a similar situation as James McCartney. They both make decent, meaningful music, but I can’t imagine that many would care if not for the old Beatle magic. Somehow Dhani is able to better make the end run around that baggage and do his think in a non annoying way. I respect that. Jacob Dylan, too.
    Yea, though- creepy. Singing Beautiful Boy to himself and not measuring up to his dad all the while. That sounds like it would be awful.

  3. Avatar Nancy Carr wrote:

    King Kevin, good point about James McCartney. He’s performing at the same festival as his dad this summer in San Francisco, which seems like a bad move to me.

    Zak Starkey is another Beatle kid who’s managed to have a musical career that’s rather distant from Beatledom.

    And Drew, I agree that establishing an independent identity is crucial for the Beatles’ kids. I fear that cozying up to the Beatle past too much, for their offspring, can be like crossing the event horizon of a black hole–impossible to get away without being crushed into a singularity.

    I hope I’m wrong. And I really do hope that Sean Lennon won’t be singing all the John songs on “Double Fantasy.”

  4. Avatar Annie McNeil wrote:

    Huh.

    I don’t know about creepy, but it sure doesn’t sound like a good idea. Double Fantasy isn’t such a great album, for one thing. Kinda odd and comes off more than a little self-centered, frankly. I think Sean’s capable of better.

    Yoko’s hair is hawtt in that photo, tho. Just sayin’.

  5. Avatar girl wrote:

    But it’s her who gets the attention, even though he’s doing all the work.

    I noticed that too Drew. Maybe not exactly that he’s doing all the work but quite a bit of it at least. He’s the reason I downloaded a couple Yoko tracks from her album Between My Head and the Sky….because I wanted to hear his guitar playing and the bass player in their band. Not because I wanted to hear her sing. Sean is a great guitar player.

    I also couldn’t help but notice how eerily he is channeling dad in the photo above. If you look too fast you will think it is John circa 1968.

    I also agree with King Kevin about Beautiful Boy. Horrible idea to sing that. Downright ridiculous if you ask me.

  6. Avatar Tomski wrote:

    The widow and son of a famous musician want to go on stage together to perform his final work? What’s wrong with that?

    Who knows how many years they have left to perform together? Good for them. I guess a lot of people think it’s creepy, but I don’t see it. For one, I don’t think anything would have made John prouder, especially to have Sean sing Beautiful Boy on stage with Yoko. It’s not like Sean is going to be gazing into his mother’s eyes when he sings “Every day we used to make love …”

    I bet few things will “bring John back to life” for these two people than performing Double Fantasy. I think it’ a brave thing to do..

    What a cool way for a wife and son to honor their father/husband.

    Peace.

  7. Avatar Charlie_Mac wrote:

    Yes, I vote for creepy. I have liked some of the stuff Julian has done – “Valotte,” for one, was good…anyone note how much Sean is looking like white-album era John these days – that’s eerie too!

  8. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    For the Royal Festival Hall show, they aren’t saying who will be singing, but are promising some “very special guests”. Paul is playing Poland the night before, so he’ll probably be back in the UK that day. He’s always said Beautiful Boy is one of his favorite John songs (chose it on Desert Island Discs etc). Ya never know!

  9. Avatar girl wrote:

    I do see your point Tomski. Thank you for making it. Looking at it your way it does seem to make sense.

  10. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    I just don’t think Yoko would ever — in a million years — include Paul in a show designed to celebrate “JohnandYoko” and Double Fantasy. She might invite other guests but there’s no way in hell she would share the spotlight with Paul. I’ll be happy to be proved wrong but she’s just not that unselfish, when it comes to Paul.

  11. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    Yes, you are almost certainly right. But I’m not sure why they are being so coy about who’s doing it. If it’s just Yoko and Sean, or Yoko and Sean plus some of the people doing Meltdown, why not say?
    Yoko and Paul have definitely been getting on better in recent years – witness Yoko’s recent public statements about Paul’s “bravery” etc.
    In any case, I don’t think it’s creepy if it’s just Yoko and Sean (it will probably be Yoko singing Beautiful Boy), and I certainly don’t think it’s weird that Sean resembles John.

  12. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    I don’t think it’s creepy at all, except for perhaps Dear Yoko. The rest of the songs, including Woman, are non-specific and universal. Musicians do covers all the time, even those of a personal nature like Jealous Guy.
    .
    I hate to sound like a henpecked mother, but when are Julian and/or Sean going to add to the Beatles family with some Lennon grandchildren. It’s kind of sad. Lord knows they’ve had plenty of girlfriends. Dhani too needs to keep the Harrison line going. Paul has a slew of grandchildren and Ringo is a great-grandfather. Maybe the fact that quite a few people name their kids Lennon, including daughters, more than makes up for it. When Liam Gallagher named his son Lennon, Paul joked that he hopes James has a son and names him Lennon too, so that he can be called Lennon-McCartney.

  13. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    Lennon McCartney, no hyphen in that case. Dakota is also a popular name these days. The first I heard it was the actress Dakota Fanning, whose parents indeed named her that because they were Beatles fans. It’s a nice name, but I wouldn’t name my kid after a building known for Rosemary’s Baby and John Lennon’s murder.
    .
    Sean needs to lose the scruffy looks IMO. He used to be so cute with a lot of John (and the best of Yoko) in him without the Abbey Road costume. It’s my least favorite John look and I don’t think I’m in the minority.
    .
    Here’s something interesting: In a long interview with Sean and his girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl (it might have been Interview Magazine) some years back, Sean was asked if the pair are a new kind of John and Yoko. He replied that they are more like Lennon and McCartney.

  14. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    A year or so ago, I stumbled upon an extraordinary movie about a woman in protracted grief treating a doll like her dead baby and recognized Sean Lennon’s voice in a tremendous song in the movie. Looking at old Paul youtubes, I saw James McCartney busking with his friends video came up in my feed along with some of his other songs. His voice is not strong though it is high pitched like his dad’s but he is an extremely good guitarist from what I could hear. Dahni came to my city but I had no interest in seeing him because of the way he publicly humiliated James online about the Beatles sons group idea. Sean was very nice to him about it, showed class, and there was a later Instagram post of Sean and James together with guitars. As this was way back in the beginning of James stepping out into music, but Dahni was by then in music, I found it very tacky of him. Way back in the first All Star tour, I think, I was lucky enough to see Ringo’s son, Zack, play with Ringo. I’m telling you, then the kid was a hunk then, lol.

  15. Avatar Michelle wrote:

    I didn’t know that. Sounds pretty arrogant/rude of Dhani. Sean is a class act. That selfie he took of him and James was sweet, and there’s another picture I really like with him and Stella. And remember this quote about Paul: “I’m just so excited when I’m around him. It’s like when you see a white buffalo and you just hold your breath – you’re just hoping that it’s not going to end. Because it’s the closest I can come to hanging out with my dad. Every second I’ve ever spent with Paul has been really meaningful to me. He was my dad’s best mate for a long time. And my dad didn’t have many friends, you know?”

  16. Avatar Pidpoo wrote:

    As to the discussion above about not wanting to name a kid Dakota, I too would be very superstitious about doing so for the reasons cited above and because I researched the history of that building which many who have lived there, John included, cite as haunted and the unfound buried large amount of silver in the floor of John and yoko apartments inaccessible due to building codes against digging. I am superstitious about naming kids for famous folks and with non family names and about who that can pull in what the Old Testament calls generational curses. This is simply due to my own spiritual beliefs and what I have observed in families around me and my own. I saw this in my own family about named kids with a brother-in-law who was the junior , named for the Victorian social Darwinist and his infant son who was the iii , each who came to a very early, tragic end. Put it down to my superstition. At least using family names, you aren’t throwing anything else into the mix. All of the Beatles real names are common but the named for a famous person kid can take in their worse, not their better traits, just as with biological heredity.

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