After completing work on Yoko's "Walking on Thin Ice" on the evening of December 8, 1980, Yoko wanted to grab a bite to eat at the nearby Stage Deli. John, however, wanted to get home to say goodnight to Sean before he went to bed.
John Lennon - The Last Interview - December 8, 1980
Laurie Kaye: “Do you think people...if people had realized holistic potential for healing and growth within them that that would have stopped, say, a lot of people from running to...oh, certain movements – religious or psychological – for whatever sudden answers?”
JOHN: “Yeah. I think...but that’s part of us all, including meself, that wants to belong to some group. Now, I don’t mean a rock group, but a group in society because it...it makes you feel secure when times are hard, or there seems to be a threat of war, or a threat of monetary crisis, and...the media, with help from the public and the politicians, hype it up that it’s the end of the world, or the end of America, or the end of financial empire or whatever it is. And everybody gets insecure and wants to belong to a group – including me. I’m...you know, I was always wanting something, even though I always wanted to be the rebel on the outside, part of me always wanted to be a part of it. And it...it’s an insecurity. I’m not sayin’ that anybody who’s become a born-again Christian or a born-again whatever the other groups are...but, in general, to me it looks like a sign of insecurity because I recognize it in meself. That, when I do go through that terrible insecurity of ‘the world is collapsing’ or goin’ crazy, or doesn’t make sense anymore, wouldn’t it be easier if I was just along with these people – these few hundred or few thousand that all think the same way and it makes life easier like that. And I think if people realize that it’s not the end of the world, the Apocalypse is not gonna happen – no matter what some person might threaten us with, those people have been wavin’ those ‘end of the world’...I remember those ‘end of the world is nigh’ cartoons when I was 12, you know? The...my whole generation...our whole generation was brought up with the H-bomb. I remember Bertrand Russell [Russell was a British philosopher, mathematician, historian, socialist, and pacifist. He spent the 1950s and 1960s engaged in various political causes, primarily related to nuclear disarmament and opposing the Vietnam War. The 1955 Russell-Einstein Manifesto was a document calling for nuclear disarmament and was signed by 11 of the prominent nuclear physicists and intellectuals of the time.] and all the H-bomb...the reason we were rock and rollers - apparently - in the fifties was ‘cause the bomb might go off any minute. OK...but, I don’t think that’s gonna happen. I really don’t think it’s gonna happen. And what happens if it happens? Just what happens if they drop the bombs all over the Earth – what’s gonna happen? Hmm? [Silence]. Is somebody gonna answer that? [Yoko laughs]. We’re either gonna live or we’re gonna die. If we’re dead we’ll have to deal with that. If we’re alive, we gotta deal with bein’ alive. So, worryin’ about whether Wall Street or the Apocalypse is gonna come in the form of the ‘Great Beast’ is not gonna do us any good day-to-day.
David Sholin: “You mentioned that with this album [Double Fantasy] you were talking to people in their thirties...mainly thirties who just happen to be the bulk...er, there’s that Baby Boom generation and the aging of America – we all are getting older. But is...if the cliché is true – supposedly we all become more conservative and mellow whatever you want to call it as we get...as we get older – that’s what our parents said, ‘Wait ‘till...sure, you’re a radical now, but wait until twenty years or ten years and you look back, you’re gonna be...' Do you see that happening, or do you see it in yourselves? I mean, listening to this album, which is obviously a little mellower...”
JOHN: “Well, is it mellower than...um...”
Sholin: “I don’t know if 'mellower' is the word...”
YOKO: “All You Need is Love?”
Kaye: “Softer. The pictures of the two of you [on the album cover]...”
JOHN: “Well, I’ll tell you what: you see, you don’t have to atrophy because you get older – if that’s the right way of sayin’ it. You see...now, the thing about when you get older you become this, if you believe that myth – again, it’s the belief system of, you know, peop...when we were kids thirty was death, right? The whole culture was like...right? I’m 40 now and I feel just...I feel better than before. You know? I mean, you can atrophy your ideas of life at 20 or 30 or 40. I know some kids that left school at the same time as me who were – within six month of gettin’ a job – absolutely locked in. You could say ‘conservative’. They might’ve been conservative socialists, in England. There’s just as many conservatives on the Left as there are on the Right. It’s not a matter of politics, conservative. It’s a matter of things...you don’t get so emotionally up and down when you’re older. Because, when you’re younger, your genes are different or your hormones are different. So it absolutely has to express different...you can become mellower without becoming rigid. I’m still open to anything. I still believe – almost – in anything until it’s disproven. I don’t have any set pattern. I don’t have any set answers. I’m as open as ever, but I just...maybe not so...my hormones don’t work the same, that’s all.”
YOKO: “Look, I think it’s totally the opposite. All these menopausal men [John laughs] – either really violent or thinking about killing five thous...five million people. What’s mellow about that [John lights cigarette], you know? And, the thing is, young people in love and they’re tender...I mean, go back to I Wanna Hold Your Hand, there; they’re very mellow songs, what are you talking about? You know? And we’re talking about starting over, which is talking about falling in love again...to each other, you know? And that’s the most beautiful, young fresh thing to do. Nobody in the menopausal age can do that. And you’re having it totally reversed. So, this conventional idea that if people are talking about love that means they’re out of the game, you know; and people who are talking about, uh...I wanna kick your pants, or whatever, you know...”
JOHN: [Singing] “I wanna kick your p-a-a-a-a-ants...”
YOKO: “[Laughs]...or, you know, something like that. Or some violent song is ‘right on, youth!’ is totally a wrong idea. The most youthful thing is to be in love, to be tender, to know about sensitivity, you know? And as you grow older your become less sensitive. And then you start thinking about ordering around people, pushing buttons and making atomic bombs go, you know. So, you know, I think your question is already wrong, you know?”
Sholin: “I was speaking mainly...I probably didn’t word it correctly, but I was speaking mainly of music. Uh, in one way...”
JOHN: “Oh, I see. Well, listen to Kiss, Kiss, Kiss, and she’s [Yoko] 47, right, so c’mon [laughs].”
Sholin: “But, a lot of radio people somehow have this idea that once people reach the age of 25 or 30, and they’re appealing to these formats...we can only play Barry Manilow...because the people who once wanted to hear Elvis Presley and Little Richard and Beatles rock and roll, whatever...”
JOHN: “I don’t believe that...”
Sholin: “...now, all of a sudden, can only listen to...”
JOHN: “...if I listen to the oldies...if the oldies but goldies come on, it’s one of my favorites...I hear Be-Bop-A-Lu-La – I can hear it over, and over, and over. Whenever it comes on, I switch up the tape – and I have the records, still. If I hear Elvis...I heard him singing I Want You, I Need You, I Love You the other day, I mean was just in heaven. I mean, of course I was goin’ back to my youth and remembering the dates, and what was goin’ on when I heard that music. So I don’t believe that the A/C [adult contemporary] or what I used to know as M.O.R., only wanna hear Barry Manilow. I think they just as well might enjoy hearing Little Richard."
YOKO: “But, music-wise, even...music is just a format, and we’re adding many different formats and that’s interesting. But New Wave is gonna be old one day, too...”
JOHN: “Old hat, any minute...”
YOKO: “The minute it’s out there and its number one, that means that it’s old hat, you know? And I think it’s nice to discover all different forms of music and that’s nice. But, at the same time, that doesn’t meant that the old form doesn’t mean anything. In fact, if a young-generation person picked up a very old form – like Elvis, or something – and did it, you wouldn’t call it ‘he’s mellowing’...”
JOHN: “I’ll give you a for-instance: Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart – which I think is a great record – is, to me...it’s the same kind of period-sound as (Just Like) Starting Over. I think The Cars’ Touch and Go is right out of the fifties [sings] ‘Oh, oh…’ A lot of it is fifties stuff. But with eighties styling, but, but...and that’s what I think (Just Like) Starting Over is; it’s a fifties song made with an eighties approach.”
AT THIS POINT, THE SECOND TAPE REEL RAN OUT. FROM THE CONVERSATION THAT BEGINS ON TAPE REEL THREE, IT SEEMS WHILE THE TAPES WERE BEING CHANGED, THE CONVERSATION TURNED TOWARD THE FUTURE ALBUMS JOHN AND YOKO WOULD MAKE AND POSSIBLE TOURING.
JOHN: “Are we [back] on?”
Sholin: “...can you comment on that?”
JOHN: “Well, you know, I...”
YOKO: “We have to make the other album first...”
JOHN: “I’d like to make at least another...I’m so hungry for makin’ records because of the way I feel. I wanna make some more records before I tour. So I’d like to make at least one more album before actually making that dec...that final decision of calling those very expensive session musicians and takin’ them on the road, you know? But, when I went in there [back to the recording studio after five years], I had no intention of going live, because I’ve noticed a lot of things like The Clash don’t do any personal appearances - hardly - anymore and they just make a video and a record. And, so, part of me was thinking, ‘Well, alright.’ But when we were playin’ in that studio...and then, I don’t know if it was Tony [Levin] the bass player or the drummer [Andy Newmark] after we’d done (Just Like) Starting Over, he said, ‘can we do this again? I mean, let’s take it on the road!’ and I...that’s the first time it came on, ‘My God, this would be fun, wouldn’t it?’ And if we can do it in the way we’ve done the album, which is have fun, enjoy the music, enjoy the performance, be accepted as John and Yoko, then I’d be happy to go out there. “
Sholin: “In a large...”
JOHN: “That’s the thing, you know, I don’t...that’s the bit I don’t want to think about, you know. I don’t know if Madison Square Garden is what I really want to do, but then can I really go into a small club and am I gonna have to deal with ‘Oh, he couldn’t make Madison Square Garden anymore...’ Do I have to care? Do I care? I don’t know. But it’s certainly a very big possibility that when we get the next album tucked away, and people know the songs from Double Fantasy we can go out and perform from Double Fantasy and the new album rather than having to go back to even Imagine – although we might do it. Or even before Imagine. I don’t really wanna go out and do [sings softly] ‘Yesterday [everyone laughs] all my troubles seemed so far away.’ I mean only if I particularly wanted to do an old Beatles’ song, would I wanna do it. I don’t really wanna get into that, you know?”
Sholin: “Great, thanks. We don’t wanna hold you up.”
At this point, Kaye presents something to John and Yoko:
JOHN: “What is that?!”
YOKO: “It’s a present form Laurie and the TV [she means radio] show...”
JOHN: “That’s great! Thanks. That’s very kind."
Cameras are clicking, as the RKO crew takes photos of John opening the gift. Meanwhile, John chats with the crew as he opens the gift. Someone hands him something - presumably a copy of Double Fantasy - to sign:
JOHN: “I’d love to sign it. I did the introduction...[the gift is opened; it is a toy for Sean] Oh wow, he’ll love it!”
Kaye: “They make them in ‘Godzilla’."
JOHN: “Oh he [Sean]...they love monsters, you know? All this peace and love talk he loves weapons and space fights and all, you know...”
At this point, various items are presented for John and Yoko to sign:
Kaye: “Sign here...”
JOHN: “Yeah, I got a pen."
Sholin [to Yoko]: “Could you just sign this to, uh, 'Debbie'? She wanted...”
Sholin: “'Debbie – hope to see you in San Francisco', or something. She would love that.”
JOHN: [To the crew, commenting on the interview] “It was enjoyable. When’s this [program] gonna be on, or whatever? I like to listen to these...if I’m...”
Kaye: “We’ll get you a copy...”
JOHN: “Oh, well I like to...I like to listen to it. It’s like the record – I listen to the test-pressing but I don’t really listen until they put it on the radio. “
Sholin: “You wanna hear it on the radio?”
Bert Keane: “Well, I’ll call, John, and find out what stations in New York and what time...”
JOHN: “Ok, great! Because it’s always...I’d love to have it [the copy of the tape] but it’s not real unless it’s on the radio – it’s like the record."
Sholin: “You can hear it on either WROR or WXLM.”
JOHN: “Yeah, ok, I know both those stations."
Sholin: “John, what is your personal opinion of Rockpile [a group formed by Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds]?"
JOHN: “Rockpile? What’s that?”
REPORTER: “Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds.”
JOHN: “Oh I love Dave Edmunds. I love their stuff. Uh, one of my favorite all-time...you know, one of my favorites is his version of, uh, he did it a few years ago, I Hear You Knockin’. One of the great records of all time, man."
Sholin: “His stuff now with Nick Lowe...”
JOHN: “Oh, I love their stuff. [Singing] 'Crawling from the...', yeah, great stuff."
All this time, John and Yoko have been signing items. Yoko asks for a ballpoint pen, as her signature is not showing up on the item:
JOHN: “I got one...oh, we need a ball point?”
Turning back to his side conversation with Sholin:
JOHN: “You see, that was the thing about the Beatles – they never stuck to one style. Just blues or just rock. We loved all music. And I still do. I mean I can get off on...”
Sholin: “You’re rock and roll….”
JOHN: “I got that image, but when you think I did In My Life, Anna on the early things and lots of ballady things, you know? It’s just, my image was more rocky, you know? But if you look down those Beatle tracks I’m right there with all the sentimental – just the same as Paul or anybody else. I love that music just as much.”
At this point, some things that Yoko has been signing are now handed to John to sign:
JOHN: “Where’d she [Yoko] sign, I don’t see it? Who’s the poster for?”
After his signature doesn't show up on the poster:
JOHN: “Maybe you’ll have to spray it or something. That’s why...they never make album covers that you can write on, either. I’ll go over it in ballpoint, as well, and between the two you’ll have the impression and then you can... [Yoko tries to show him where to sign] Yoko, I’m doin’ it here right now. Oh, I don’t...why won’t it write? Maybe we should do it on a bit of paper and then you can sort of stick it on or something. I’ll go over it like that, you see? And then...yeah, that’s always the hard thing about signing things is that they won’t write on these things."
After completing the autographs, the crew begins to pack up their equipment to leave:
Kaye: [To John after a final autograph] “Thank you, that means a lot.”
JOHN: “Oh, it’s a pleasure...I...I’m a fan of people, too, you know? I like people to sign their books when they give ‘em to me and all that..."
The tape is switched off. John's voice is silenced permanently five hours later...
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