Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Final Interview - Part V


NOVEMBER 26, 1980: The day after Thanksgiving, John and Yoko [above] went with a film crew to Central Park to shoot was was to be the video for Woman [Yoko did, in fact, use the footage when she released the single in February 1981].

John Lennon - The Last Interview - December 8, 1980

Laurie Kaye: “So, what is Double Fantasy...”
Dave Sholin: “...the album title...”
JOHN: “Well, you know where it came from?”
YOKO: “You better tell them...”
JOHN: “[Putting an deep voice] I was takin’ Sean and the nanny and the family to a little...uh – except for Mother, who was here sellin’ cows – in Bermuda to The Botanical Gardens for lunch to an Italian restaurant, [back to normal voice] cause I could get some espresso and Sean could get some junk food [laughs]. And I was just walking in and I looked down and in the botanical garden it said…[PHONE RINGS] … we’re in the office folks, that’s why it’s buzzin’. It said ‘Freezier Double Fantasy’ and it was some flowers. And I just thought, ‘Double Fantasy – that’s a great title!’ ‘Cause it has so many meanings that you couldn’t even begin to think what it means, so it means anything you can think of. I mean, it’s a double couple. It’s, it’s real life but it’s still fantasy because it’s now in plastic and in photograph. And it’s fantastic! And it just sort of seemed to be perfect for a title to the album. And there’s two of us. And it just sort of says it all - without really saying anything it says everything. And it’s a flower, actually.”
YOKO: “But also, in the ten years, we learned that, uh, John has his own fantasy and I have mine, too, you know? And that’s alright, you see? And we don’t have to unify our thoughts totally. I mean there’s an overall plan that we have – or a dream that we have – which we share, you know? But then we come from a totally different background, I mean, in the sense of man and woman. And that’s fine. So we are showing the differences of the fantasies, too, you know?”
JOHN: “That’s why it wasn’t just all love songs – (I'm) Losing You and (I'm) Moving On – to show ourselves...we’re not pretending to be the perfect couple, because we don’t wanna get into that bag, either. Right? Because we’re trying to present what it is, you know? A relationship that lots of other people are having but they’re maybe not songwriters and they don’t express it that way. And the [fan] letters we’re getting back are from couples – apart from the kids who just like it ‘cause its music – but the main excitement is the letters from people who are married with kids, or not necessarily married but relate...relating together, and realizing we’re not sellin’ ourselves as the perfect couple. We have our problems. We’ve had our problems. No doubt, we’ll have problems. But, you know, we’re trying. We wanna stay together, we wanna be a family. And that’s the kind of level we’re relating to. I’m not aiming...I’m not aiming at 16-year olds. If they can dig it, please dig it. But when I was singing and writing this and working with her [Yoko], I was visualizing all the people of my age group, from the sixties, being in their thirties and forties now, just like me. And having wives and children, and having gone through everything together...I’m singin’ to them. I hope the young kids like it as well, but I’m really talking to the people who grew up with me. And saying, ‘Here I am now. How are you? How’s your relationship goin’? Did you get through it all? Wasn’t the seventies a drag, you know? Here we are, well let’s try to make the eighties good, you know?’ ‘Cause it’s still up to us to make what we can of it. It’s not out of our control. I still believe in love, peace; I still believe in positive thinking – when I can do it. I’m not always positive, but when I am I try to project it.”
YOKO: “Well, overall we’re getting more and more positive aren’t we? Because somehow...”
JOHN: “Because we survived! That’s the thing. You have to give thanks to God, or whatever it is up there, the fact that we all survived. We all survived Vietnam, or Watergate, or the tremendous upheaval of the whole world that’s changed...we...we were the hip ones in the sixties, but the world is not like the sixties. The whole map’s changed. And we’re goin’ into an unknown future, but we’re still all here. We still...while there’s life there’s hope.”
Kaye: “So it seems like instead of the ‘down’ litany of the early seventies where all the things you don’t believe in, now it’s...”
JOHN: “Exactly! And that’s why I put the ‘ting, ting, ting’ on the beginning of (Just Like) Starting Over. And I hoped somebody would catch on, but it’s easier if I explain it. ‘Cause I like to be mysterious. A little part of me still...But, in actual fact, on the beginning of Mother, the Plastic Ono album, you hear this litany [makes sounds of bell] Bong! You know, very slow church bell. Which was like a death knell. ‘I don’t believe in, I don’t believe in’ and the Freudian things about mother and father, and that was a kind of negative/positive. I was tryin’ to make a positive out of a negative, but it was heavy-going. And the reason this one [(Just Like) Starting Over, to start Double Fantasy] goes, ‘ting, ting, ting’ is to show that I’ve come through. And whoever’s listening must’ve come through, or they wouldn’t be here. And that’s the...because I always considered my work one piece, whether it be with Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, Yoko Ono...and I consider that my work won’t be finished until I’m dead and buried, and I hope that’s a long, long time. So, to me it’s one part of one whole piece of work from the time I became public ‘till now. And that’s the connecting point between that, and you [Kaye] hit it right on the head. And the eighties is like we got a new chance, you know?”
Kaye: “So the multi-year process that went into this evolution to (Just Like) Starting Over...well, obviously you had a lot of bad stuff as well as good stuff...”
JOHN: “Well, of course...”
Kaye: “...what was the worst for you?”
JOHN: “The worst was bein’ separated from Yoko [1973-74] and realizing I really, really needed to be with her, wanted to be with her, and could not literally survive without her, as a functioning human being. I just went to pieces. And I didn’t realize that I needed her so much [gets choked up]...”
Kaye: [Pauses] “What do you think of the work that reflected this period?”
JOHN: “Well, that period I did the Walls and Bridges which...”
YOKO: “Which wasn’t bad...”
JOHN: “...was technically okay. If you pull it apart as a production or, you know, format that songs...there’s nothin’ wrong with them, but there’s an air of loss. There’s an air of...it’s not the same kind of cloud...it’s not the same kind of...the Mother album, where there’s...it’s [Plastic Ono] a positive/negative, you know? It’s sayin’ ‘this is where I’m at, this is how it’s going’. And you could say it’s a film where you came out crying from that movie, [whereas] Walls and Bridges has this sort of misery, but you can’t put your hand on it. There’s this kind of cloud ‘round it. If you look closely you can say Bless You is a nice song, nothin’ wrong with it. Good construction, good harmony...you know, you can go into it and look at it and you can’t find fault as a piece of art. But overall there’s some horrible confusion and loneliness in it that...that is apparent from the whole album, that it gives off.”
Kaye: “No.# 9 Dream always hit me as the most wistful, longing song...”
JOHN: [Laughing] “That’s how I felt, my dear...”
Sholin: “Haunted...”
JOHN: “I was haunted, alright, ‘cause I realized that, uh, I needed her more than she needed me, and I always thought the boot was on the other foot, you know? And that’s as honest as I can get. And the image is always...’cause the pop star...and Burt Reynolds said it the other night [On December 2, 1980, The Barbara Walters Special aired, featuring interviews with Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman], and God bless him, that uh, he...the women have always kicked him out. And Yoko kicked me out. I didn’t go off on a ‘I’m gonna be a rock and roll, uh, bachelor'. She literally said, ‘Get out.’ And I said [slapping hands together] “Oooooh, okay! I’m goin’!’ You know, I was going to be a bachelor free...I’d been married all me life, you know? I was married before Yoko and I immediately married Yoko, so I’d never been a bachelor since I was twenty, or something. So I thought [making shrill high-pitched joyous scream] ‘Whooo-hoo, hah, hah!’ [Back to normal voice] It was God-awful. It was awful”
Sholin: “Isn’t that the way we all survive, by protecting ourselves when somebody does that? We say, ‘Oh, cool, I’m not gonna...”
JOHN: “Yeah! You know, I was gonna be Mr. Cool. But you see I was sev...I call it the seven-year hitch – I don’t know what it was – it was horrific and it took me a long time to catch on because I drank too much and the rest...a lot of it’s known already and I don’t wanna keep gurging it up, but I wasn’t too...I was out of control, and nobody was looking after me and I needed somebody to love me and there was nobody there to support me, and I just fell apart. And the other thing I wanna say about Burt Reynolds the other night, Barbara Walters asked him, ‘What do you want to be remembered as?’ and he said, ‘the best father that ever was’, you know? And I thought, ‘Thank God!’, you know? I’d been beginning to feel that maybe I’m the only father that’s interested in relating. And is it gonna be, ‘Oh, John Lennon’s now sellin’ this family business , and he’s been through peace and love and now he’s comin’ on like Daddy’ and all that. And I’m only talking about it because that’s what I’ve done and that’s how I feel. And admitting that it is...I’m more feminist now than when I sang Woman is the Nigger...I was intellectually a feminist then, now I feel at least I’ve put my...not my money but my body where my mouth was. And tried to really live up to my own preaching, as it were. And to see somebody like Burt Reynolds, who is the world’s male star – over all the pop stars – worldwide, to have the guts to say he wants to be known as a...as a father, I thought ‘Oh, great. I’m not gonna be alone on this one.’ And I get letters from people sayin’ I’m not alone .I get letters from guys sayin’ [putting on deep voice], ‘Well, I’m doin’ it to, you know; you’re not the only one.’"
Sholin: “It kind of destroys the macho image of ‘Let’s see how many women we can be with...”
JOHN: “Well let’s...isn’t it time we destroyed it, because where’s it got us all these thousands of years? Are we still gonna have to be clubbin’ each other to death...do I have to arm-wrestle you [Sholin] to have a relationship with you as another male? Do I have to seduce her [Kaye] or come on with her, that I’m gonna lay her because she’s a female, or come on as some sexual...can we not have a relationship on some other level besides that same old stuff all the time? I mean it’s kids stuff, man; it’s really kids stuff. And I don’t wanna go through life as a...pretendin’ to be James Dean or Marlon Brando, you know? In a movie, not in real life, even – in a movie version of them.”
Kaye: “Just the fact that you’re living so many of the things you were singing about, talking about, trying to get across years ago, does that make you think that maybe you were a little bit false, or just image-oriented back then?”
JOHN: “No, I think that...it wasn’t image-oriented it was just goin’ as fast as uh...not only the fact that we got together and BOOM it was like an explosion, but there was also the Beatle-thing, about us getting’ together, and whether they [the Beatles] split up because of us – or not – whatever the reason; all that stuff. The Beatles were splittin’, the Beatles were arguin’, John and Yoko was [sic] getting together. The anti-Vietnam crusades were goin’ on all over. And we were involved in so many things, and we were puttin’ out so much work, and makin’...we were making movies, making public appearances, uh, performin’ at shows and all, and travelin’ the world, and doin’ all that – there was no time to reflect. There was only time to put out immediate impressions of what was a happening.”
YOKO: “Well, we were really honest about it. You can say that maybe we were na├»ve, or something, but still we were very honest about it, about everything we did, you know?”
JOHN:“That’s why I referred to ‘the word is love’ on Rubber Soul straight through to All You Need is Love to Give Peace a Chance to ‘imagine there’s no countries’ – imagine there’s no war, in other words to...to right to this moment now. But the thing is, instead of this album [Double Fantasy] doesn’t say ‘imagine the whole world’ like that, because I’ve said that – in a way – what I’m sayin’ now is let’s put the spotlight on the two of us and show how we’re tryin’ to imagine there’s no wars. To live that love and peace. Rather than sing about it only.”
Sholin: “When you two sing about love, is it possible to say what love is, or is love...is it a personal thing, is it all different?”
JOHN: “I dunno...”
YOKO: “Well, look, love is love, isn’t it. I mean you know it, too...”
JOHN: “...we know what it is but you can’t define it, you know?”
YOKO: “...I mean everybody knows what love is. I mean it’s not something that you can explain but it’s a very strong energy and power.”
JOHN: “I tried to define it on the Plastic Ono album...”
YOKO: “It’s like a magical power...”
JOHN: “...with a song called Love. Was love on Plastic Ono or on Imagine?”
YOKO: “Yes, it was on Plastic Ono...”
JOHN: “Well I tried to define it as...in my own way, ‘love is real, real is love’. And it’s very simple lyric, or even simplistic – I don’t know which way it would go - but what can you call it? You can say [putting on deep voice] ‘love is like a flower’...”
YOKO: “It’s like saying, ‘What is air?’ And you say ‘H2O’ it doesn’t mean anything.”
JOHN: “It’s whatever it is when it feels good is love, and the other one is not love, you know?”
Kaye: “On that same album, when you first sang Hold On did you have any idea of the things you were gonna go through...”
YOKO: “No...”
JOHN: “No, no. No idea...”
YOKO: “...amazing isn’t it? Oh, but the other thing is...John explained it so I have to, uh, explain my side of it, is that it’s almost like...maybe it’s almost like John and I are sort of the prototype of that situation but [John lights cigarette] because the world was pressuring me so much, I mean really too much, really suffocating me in the sense that I can’t work anymore. And, uh, when John was in L.A. I really had enough space to think about it and all that. And realize it was the society, it wasn’t John so much, it was the society that’s really messing the whole thing up, you know? And when John came to New York once to sort of...wanting to come back and I said...”
JOHN: “Not quite on his knees, but, one knee...” [Laughs]
YOKO: “...and, you know, he sort sang that Bless You to me, you know, and I was crying actually...”
JOHN: “...that [Bless You] was to Yoko.”
YOKO: “...and, uh, we were just sort of holding each other and crying because I thought, ‘My God, it’s beautiful’ and everything. But still I thought, 'no, no, no let’s not get emotional, let’s not get tricked again' because if I accept him back, the whole she-bang is gonna start again, you know? So, let’s be cool about this. You know, I was cryin’ but I said, ‘Ok, look, I’ll see you later’. And it was hard for me, too. And what I’m saying is that maybe - on a different level maybe – most women are in that position that I was in. And so that if men and women are gonna come back together again, then man has to really make a big step forward, you know. Like, to try to extend a hand and then try to really almost make up for what women lost in the society, so to speak. So, it’s hard for men, too. But that’s the only way, I think, that it’s gonna happen, you know? Because, um, I mean I tried my best but still if I were to just be normally healthy, I have to get that from John. If I didn’t, I would’ve gone crazy, anyway. So, you know, it wouldn’t have been a relationship [if they'd reconciled then], you know, he would have had the wife that accepted him back but I would be in a mental hospital [laughs], you know?...”
JOHN: “I would’ve visited...”
YOKO: “’My wife is in a mental hospital’..."
Kaye: [To John]: “How sporting of you.”
JOHN: “Well, you know, I’m that kind of guy, you know?”
Kaye: “Yoko, when you first heard Woman did it make you cry?”
YOKO: “Oh, yes!"
Bert Keane: “I played that...I’ll make this real quick, and then I’ll shut up. I played that [Woman] for my wife...”
YOKO: “She cried...” [Laughs]
Keane: “This thirties and forties groups, it’s [Double Fantasy] really hittin’ them...”
JOHN: “Well, that’s who...what I am, you know? I’m 40, I wanna talk to the people my age. I’m happy if the young people like it, and I’m happy if the old people like it, I’m talkin’ to guys and gals that have been through what we went through, together - the sixties group that has survived. Survived the war, the drugs, the politics, the violence on the street – the whole she-bang – that we’ve survived it and we’re here. And I’m talkin’ to them. And the Woman song is to Yoko, but it’s to all women. And, because my role in society – or any artist or poet’s role – is to try to express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel, not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all. And it’s like that’s the job of the artist in society, not to...they’re not some alienated being living on the outskirts of town. It’s fine to live on the outskirts of town, but artists must reflect what we all are. That’s what it’s about – artists, or poets or whatever you wanna call it. And that’s what I’m tryin’ to express on behalf of all the men to all the women, through my own feelings about women – when it dawned on me, ‘God! It is the other half of the sky’ as the late-great Chairman MacDougal [Mao] said, right? I mean, they [women] are the other half of the sky, and without them there is nothing. And without us [men] there’s nothing. There’s only the two together creating children, creating society. So what’s all this B.S. about, you know, ‘women are this’ and ‘men are that’ – we’re all human, man. We’re all human. And, I am tryin’ to say it to Yoko, but to all women, you know? On behalf of all men, in a way. If that’s taken it too much on meself, I feel that artists are that – they’re reflections of society...Mirrors.”
YOKO: “That’s true. But, what I went through when we were separated was amazing, I mean down to if, uh, I’m outside [the Dakota] and reporters would ask, ‘Well, do you think John’s gonna ever get back to you?’ or that sort of nonsense, you know, or ‘Poor Yoko’, you know? ‘Lonely in the Dakota all by herself because her husband is'...or whatever. And it’s that image that is so humiliating. But I wasn’t gonna stand up and say something because that would humiliate his [John’s] macho image, you know?...”
JOHN: [With affect on voice] “Um, hum. Um, hum.”
YOKO: “...But the other thing is, well, so he was having a headache because he got drunk or something, and he had a hangover...that’s men, you know...”
JOHN: “For eighteen months!”
YOKO: “...that’s his own headache. But I was getting a headache because of all these people saying, you know, sort of nonsense...”
JOHN: “Well, me and Burt [Reynolds] have owned up. [Laughing]”

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