Back to index of Beatles pages by Donald Sauter.

One John Lennon, with sound bites

In the summer of 2007 I went through all my "Beatle Talk Tapes" and digitized them. These are my cassettes containing Beatle talk, of some form or another, collected from such radio series as The Lost Lennon Tapes, The Beatle Years, Ringo's Yellow Submarine, and Scott Muni's Ticket To Ride, plus one-off radio specials.

The tapes are highly concentrated; nothing but the spoken word of the Beatles and Beatle-related characters, themselves. I only let the emcee pop up with a few words here and there if it was necessary for understanding what the speaker was talking about.

There were 44 cassettes, almost all of them 90-minutes long. In the course of converting them to cd, I listened to every word and made a detailed index. Talk about a chore - whew! You know me by now; I have to share. And if a few other people find something entertaining among these John Lennon bits and pieces, then all that painstaking effort filling up the tapes, and baby-sitting them through the years, and now going through them again, was that much more worthwhile.

Enjoy!


Happy Christmas 1968 - Beatles Christmas record

Right off the bat, we have an exception. This is from a Beatles' Christmas record, not my tape collection.

At about 1:55 into the Beatles' 1968 fan club Christmas record we hear a piano in the background playing the well-known song Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms. I see no mention of this in any of my Beatle books, or on the web as of June 2007. The song is associated with Irish poet Thomas Moore (died 1852), who supplied the words - not the ones heard here, haha - to an anonymous Irish air called My Lodging Is In The Cold Ground.

I wasn't there, of course, so don't quote me, but I can't imagine who else the pianist might be other than Yoko. I'll even stick my neck out and say it's John squeaking and honking the counter-melodies.
 

On my Beatle Talk tapes, John spoke one time about Yoko's classical music training. They were on the Mike Douglas Show. The conversation introduced a clip from their Imagine film.

John: This is one we both wrote, right?

Yoko: Oh My Love. We wrote it together and it...

John: You hear Yoko's classical influence. She was trained as a classical musician all her life, and she only went mad, avant garde, later in life, you know, (laughter) like a lot of people do. And she...

Mike Douglas: Let's be honest, John, when she met you...

John: No, she went banahnas before she met me. (laughter) We're both banahnas, that's why we fell in love. But this song, you can hear the classical influence of Yoko . . . has influenced me on this. And this is 80% her lyric and 50% her tune on this, and it really influenced me. You can hear a Japanese influence.


I Sat Belonely vs. The Pig Song

Speaking of Irish songs . . .

John Lennon's first book, In His Own Write, includes a poem called I Sat Belonely.

I Sat Belonely

I sat belonely down a tree,
humbled fat and small.
A little lady sing to me
I couldn't see at all.

I'm looking up and at the sky,
to find such wondrous voice.
Puzzly puzzle, wonder why,
I hear but have no choice.

'Speak up, come forth, you ravel me',
I potty menthol shout.
'I know you hiddy by this tree'.
But still she won't come out.

Such softly singing lulled me sleep,
an hour or two or so
I wakeny slow and took a peep
and still no lady show.

Then suddy on a little twig
I thought I see a sight,
A tiny little tiny pig,
that sing with all it's might.

'I thought you were a lady'.
I giggle, - well I may,
To my suprise the lady,
got up - and flew away.

 
I always viewed this as one of the more accessible pieces in John's book. I can almost make sense of it. (I also wonder if "it's" is an unintentional misspelling, among the thousands of intentional misspellings in the book,)

One day, listening to the University of Maryland's WMUC (my only station throughout the 1990s) I got a bit of a surprise when I heard the following recitation. I don't know the performer; he broke into a song immediately after the poem.

It was the Pig Fair last September,
The day I well remember!
I was walking up and down in drunken pride,
When my knees began to flutter,
And I sank down in the gutter,
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.

As I lay there in the gutter,
Thinking thoughts I could not utter,
I thought I heard a passing lady say:
"You can tell the man who boozes
By the comp'ny that he chooses!"
And with that the pig got up and walked away.

 
It's pretty clear that John had this rattling in his brain when he wrote I Sat Belonely, right?

Not surprisingly, the origin of this Irish poem is uncertain. The web also indicates it's been made into several pop songs along the way. There were songs called "The Pig Got Up and Slowly Walked Away" in both 1896 and 1933, assuming they're not the same song, and a more recent one called "The Famous Pig Song".


John Lennon's station IDs for WMUC

WMUC is the University of Maryland's radio station - incidentally, one of the oldest college radio stations in the world.

I caught these station IDs on WMUC-FM in the late 1980s, or maybe early 1990s. Naturally, they gave me surprise. Not until putting this page together did I find out the story behind them. I figured it was extremely unlikely John did them on the Beatles first whirlwind visit to Washington, D.C., when the Beatles played their first American concert at the Washington Coliseum on Feb 11 1964. So my next guess was when the Beatles came to Washington on their U.S. tour in 1966. I kind of doubt John would have fooled with such a thing on his January 1977 visit for Jimmy Carter's inauguration!

But a history of the WMUC radio station pegs John's station IDs to the Feb 1964 visit. WMUC's web site says:

1964: Bill Seaby, Paul Palmer, and Allen Batton (all WMUC volunteers) interviewed The Beatles in DC and managed to get John Lennon to read several promotional spots for WMUC (although Lennon was warned not to do so because it would show "favoritism".) The promos were used extensively until 1970 when the station's format changed from Top 40 to freeform.

 

TRANSCRIPTION: "Hello, this is John Lennon of the Beatles and you're listening to the No. 1 station in College Park, WMUC."

After one particular airing of this ID, a couple of deejays commented on it, revealing that at least one was a bit surprised and skeptical.

DEEJAY 1: I don't know, how'd they, how'd they get that?

DEEJAY 2: How'd they get that. Did they fake that or is that really a thing?

DEEJAY 1: It's him!

DEEJAY 2: That's, that's the man?

 

TRANSCRIPTION: "Hello, this is John Lennon of the Beatles. For the tops in pops listen to WMUC, College Park. Get listening, kid."

I've never been sure I hear that exactly right.
 

TRANSCRIPTION: "Hello, this is John Lennon of the Beatles and you're listening to the No. 1 station in College Park, WMUC, at 65 on the dial."

Ok, so ID 3 is really just the long version of ID 1, which was the most frequently aired one. Until I slogged through all these tapes, I thought I had three distinct John Lennon recordings. I caught this one leading into deejay Dave's Sgt. Pepper Jazz and Rock Show - a rather daring concept, ay?


The Andy Peebles interview - corrections to the BBC print version

I have this interview in two forms, published in a book (b) and on a tape (t). The book is called The Lennon Tapes. It was published by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 1981. Its subtitle is "John Lennon and Yoko Ono in conversation with Andy Peebles, December 6 1980."

I don't seem to have any details on when I caught the radio broadcast. The back of the book credits Doreen Davies as executive producer and Paul Williams as producer.

The printed transcription was a fine job, but I caught a few little slips that may be of interest to a few people. Sometimes the error makes it difficult or impossible to understand the point being made; in a few cases it actually flip-flops the sense. In two cases, the speaker was misidentified. There are also a few statements by John which I've treated to some follow-up discussion using other material found in my Beatle Talk tapes.

So whether or not you care about the discrepancies - and some are tremendously insignificant - you might find it pleasant to revisit one of the most enjoyable John Lennon interviews via these random snippets.

These are the conventions I use:

*** Page 7 ***

(b) Book omits John's cheerful song.

(t) JOHN LENNON (sings): We come along on Saturday morning, greeting everybody with a smile. (laugh)

Listen!

 

*** Page 15 ***

(b) JOHN LENNON: On some of our bag events; one of them was . . . our Rolls Royce . . . We didn't go to some Royal Command opening of a movie or something. We sent two Hare Krishna kids in the back.

(t) JOHN LENNON: On some of our bag events; one of them was . . . We didn't go to some Royal Command opening of a movie or something. We sent two Hare Krishna kids in the bag.

Listen!

 

*** Page 17 ***

(b) YOKO ONO: I mean Beatle music is now a macho trip... They didn't come on at the box or anything, you know.

(t) YOKO ONO: I mean Beatle music is not a macho trip... They didn't come on like a boxer or anything, you know.

Listen!

 

*** Page 38 ***

On performing Instant Karma on Top Of The Pops

(b) JOHN LENNON: But we wanted to be together, and her contribution to that event, instead of having a smoke bomb or a coloured light, a psychedelic light, Yoko only knitted.

(t) JOHN LENNON: But we wanted to be together, and her contribution to that event, instead of having a smoke bomb or a coloured light, a psychedelic light, Yoko Ono knitted.

Listen!

 

*** Page 39 ***

No discrepancy here, just what would have been the highlight of the audio interview for me if they hadn't cut this section. We know John could sew, and have pictures of him working away at a sewing machine. So cool . . .

(b) JOHN LENNON: I used to do embroidery. My auntie told me how to do little flowers, like that.

 

*** Page 39 ***

(b) JOHN LENNON: Two Virgins was a big fight... So Joseph Lockwood, you know, he was a nice guy... told me he will do everything he can to help us put Two Virgins out... Then... he sent a personal note to everyone saying, Don't print it.

(t) JOHN LENNON: Two Virgins was a big fight... So Joseph Lockwood, who I still like, he was a nice guy... told me he will do everything he can to help us put Two Virgins out... Then... he sent a personal note to everyone saying, Don't print it.

Listen!

 

*** Page 41 ***

On the legal problems such as the custody case and immigration

(b) JOHN LENNON: But it might have done a lot of good, it might have done me harm. I can't really tell yet.

(t) JOHN LENNON: But it might have done our work good, it might have done it harm. I can't really tell yet.

Listen!

 

*** Page 46 ***

On the Fillmore East performance

(b) JOHN LENNON: We went down there and I did an old Olympics number - the B side of Young Blood - I'm not sure what it was called. Well, it was a 12-bar kind of thing that I used to do at the Cavern.

(t) JOHN LENNON: We went down there and I did an old Olympics number - the B side of Young Blood - I'm not sure what it was. It was called Well. It was a 12-bar kind of thing that I used to do at the Cavern.

Listen!

 

*** Page 48 ***

(b) YOKO ONO: I was putting this sort of suggestion you know . . . for men who are from Liverpool...

(t) YOKO ONO: I was put in this sort of situation of four men who are from Liverpool...

Listen!

 

*** Page 50 ***

On the word "Christ" in The Ballad Of John And Yoko

(b) JOHN LENNON: So they turned it round so that it would, you know it ain't easy, you know.

(t) JOHN LENNON: So they turned it round so that it would go, "Rrrp! you know it ain't easy", you know.

Listen!

 

*** Page 51 ***

YOKO ONO: And he's (Sean) five years old, you know, and he said, 'Mummy, you know, when you say something they take it seriously but when I say something they don't believe me'.

(b) JOHN LENNON: Yeah he said that.

(t) JOHN LENNON: He said that?

Listen!

 

*** Page 57 ***

(b)
ANDY PEEBLES: Walls and Bridges came along in 1974. It's said you wrote the ten songs in a period of a week to get that album together, is that true?

JOHN LENNON: I did. I dunno, it's all a blank.

(t)
ANDY PEEBLES: Walls and Bridges came along in 1974. It's said you wrote ten songs in a period of a week to get that album together, is that true?

JOHN LENNON: I did? I dunno, it's all a blank.

Listen!

 

*** Page 59 ***

On Double Fantasy

(b)
YOKO ONO: ...we were so well. And we were all prepared to maybe have a difficult time, but . . . Don't you think?

JOHN LENNON: Yeah, it was the easiest set I've ever done, I think.

(t)
YOKO ONO: ...we worked so well. And we were all prepared to maybe have a difficult time, but . . . Don't you think?

JOHN LENNON: Yeah, it was the easiest session I've ever done, I think.

Listen!

 

*** Page 64 ***

John describes meeting Yoko after Elton John's Madison Square Garden concert, comparing it to "the Indica Gallery scene".

(b) ANDY PEEBLES: Great stuff, yeah. (Sound like Andy Peebles to you???)

(t) ANDY PEEBLES: It's a great story, isn't it. (That's more like 'im!)

Listen!

 

*** Page 68 ***

On the Pussy Cats and Rock 'n' Roll albums

The John Dean tapes is a joky name for the Rock 'n' Roll album session tapes, which Phil Spector absconded with.

(b) JOHN LENNON: That's when I sobered up in Harry Nilsson's album, because I took Keith Moon and Harry and all them, and I'd lost the John Dean tapes, I'd lost them, so that album was quick.

(t) JOHN LENNON: That's when I sobered up in Harry Nilsson's album, because I took Keith Moon and Harry and all them, and I'd lost the John Dean tapes, I'd lost them, so that album was quit.

Listen!

 
So were the "John Dean tapes" just a good joke? Here's something assistant engineer Jimmy Iovine had to say about that many years later.

JIMMY IOVINE: I got a phone call, right, from Phil, during the sessions, and he said, I got the Watergate tapes, you know (laughs) . . . whatever, you know - exactly what John said (laughs).

So 16 years later I did a single with Darlene Love. And I said, Darlene, you know when we worked on those sessions, the Phil Spector sessions together? 'Cause you know she was singing backing.

And she goes, "Oh yeah, Jimmy, 'cause I remember that, it was really great!"

I said you know what's funny? I don't know if I ever told you this, I said, Phil said (pause) that he had the Watergate tapes, you know, and that's why everything was going crazy, and (pause) she says, "He did. I heard 'em."

And I didn't say another word, I just said, ok, take 2. (laughs heartily) Ok? I didn't know what to say after that.

 

*** Page 71 ***

On the cover of The Beatles/1967-1970

There's no discrepancy here between the book and audio, but this is the most intriguing passage in the interview for me.

Angus McBean shot the Please Please Me album cover photo of the Beatles leaning over the rail at the EMI offices. He is always given credit for the similar photo taken six years later intended for the Get Back album cover. For one compelling example, the National Portrait Gallery in London has displayed the photos together in an exhibit of McBean's work. It's the latter photo that John is referring to below which was used for The Blue album.

But John says he had Linda Eastman shoot it. I know as well as anyone what funny tricks our memories can play, but confusing Linda with Angus McBean, with only an 11 year lag??? Assuming McBean did take the photo, what could John have been thinking of?

JOHN LENNON: So on that last package where they had Beatles 60 . . . different periods - that one. I made sure . . .

ANDY PEEBLES: The Red and The Blue.

JOHN LENNON: The Red and The Blue, that one. I made sure George Martin was there and I made sure they put that picture which I got Linda to take of the four Beatles in the same pose as their very first album over the Abbey Road . . . No what is that . . . EMI office in that other place, some square, I've forgotten the . . .

ANDY PEEBLES: Manchester Square.

JOHN LENNON: Manchester Square. So I was involved in that respect, in that package making sure that the cover was what I wanted and that the sound was done by George Martin. So I don't mind that one.

Listen!

 

*** Page 72 ***

(b) JOHN LENNON: Well, Jack Douglas who worked with us on this thing Double Fantasy and he worked with us on Fly and Mind Games, he goes way back. He was the young engineer in those days.

(t)
JOHN LENNON: Well, Jack Douglas who worked with us on this thing Double Fantasy and he worked with us on Fly, Approximately, Mind Games, he goes way back. He was the "young engineer" in those days.

YOKO ONO (interjecting): He put strings on Imagine.

 
"Approximately" is Approximately Infinite Universe.

Listen!

 

*** Page 72 ***

(b) JOHN LENNON: You know how you were saying, well, were you laughing during the Bed-in's and the Bag-in's and all that?... Of course we were laughing, we had fun.

(t) JOHN LENNON: You know how you were saying, well, were you laughing during the Bed-in's and the bags and all that?... Of course we were laughing, we had fun.

Listen!

 

*** Page 72 ***

(b) JOHN LENNON: I mean I don't even hear how I talk, can you imagine me saying that, I've made my contribution to society . . .

(t) JOHN LENNON: I mean I don't . . . You can hear how I talk. Can you imagine me saying that, "I've made my contribution to society"? (veddy posh accent)

Listen!

 

*** Page 74 ***

ANDY PEEBLES (to Yoko): You said that you reversed roles . . . that John . . .

(b) YOKO ONO: Yes, my dear . . . ?

(t) JOHN LENNON: Yes, my dear . . . ? (falsetto)

Listen!

 

*** Page 75 ***

(b) JOHN LENNON: It was a Zen experience to master that cooking thing and put as much energy into that bread . . . and make it right . . . not just whack it away . . . I took it from scratch. Now I buy a packet of Pilsbury or something, it blows up into bread.

(t) JOHN LENNON: It was a Zen experience to master that cooking thing and put as much energy into that bread . . . and make it right . . . not just whack it away . . . I took it from scratch. None o' that buy a packet of Pilsbury or something, it blows up into bread.

Listen!

 

*** Page 75 ***

JOHN LENNON: And then the time between breakfast and lunch is very quick; you hardly have time to read the paper. That's presuming it ain't raining and the babysitter can take the child out, so you get a break from the constant "Daddy, look at this; Daddy, look at that," you know, "Look at me; look at me; look at me."

(b) Feed the cat.

(t) Feed the cats.

Listen!

 

*** Page 75 ***

YOKO ONO: And if you made bread, you know, you want people to eat it, you know, and if they don't eat it it's a personal insult. So he went through that one. "Ah, well, Yoko, aren't you eating this? You know I made it . . . "

(b) JOHN LENNON: Ah, you didn't like the bread yesterday.

(t) ANDY PEEBLES: Ah, you didn't like the bread John made?

Listen!

 

*** Page 77 ***

(b) JOHN LENNON: When I think about it, at school I wish they'd taught us practical things... I wish I'd been taught to cook so I could look after meself when my Auntie was not there or something . . . or whenever.

(t) JOHN LENNON: When I think about it, at school I wish they'd taught us practical things... I wish I'd been taught to cook so I could look after meself when my Auntie was not there or something . . . (personal aside to Mimi) I know you were there most of the time, but sometimes you weren't there (Yoko chuckles) . . . or whenever.

Listen!

 

*** Page 78 ***

(b) JOHN LENNON: We don't own any of the Beatle records, we've got farthings for royalties and all the rest of it. Anyway, the point being, we decided not to have an outside party.

(t)
JOHN LENNON: We don't own any of the Beatle records, we've got farthings for royalties and all the rest of it.

ANDY PEEBLES: And you sold your 25% share in Apple.

JOHN LENNON: (gulp) No, not yet.

ANDY PEEBLES: Is it on the way?

JOHN LENNON: (gulp gulp)

YOKO ONO: No, no. Now we're too busy with other things.

JOHN LENNON (talking over Yoko): Anyway, the point being, we decided not to have an outside party.

Listen!

 

*** Page 78 ***

(b)
ANDY PEEBLES: So along came this offer, and you made the decision to record the album Double Fantasy...

JOHN LENNON: Yes, we . . . actually we recorded the album before we talked together.

(t)
ANDY PEEBLES: So along came Mr. Geffen, and you made the decision to record the album Double Fantasy...

JOHN LENNON: Yeah . . . actually we recorded the album before we talked to Geffen.

Listen!

 

*** Page 79 ***

(b) JOHN LENNON: Also he wasn't a big company, so you weren't dealing with this anonymous grey suit, you know, with the president changing every two days. There was always more presidents of Capitol than EMI, they were always waiting for the Beatles to die, they died first every time.

(t) JOHN LENNON: Also he wasn't a big company, so you weren't dealing with this anomynous grey suit, you know, with the president changing every two days. There was always more presidents of Capitol and EMI, they were always waiting for the Beatles to die, they died first every time.

Listen!

Keep that spoonerism in mind!

 

*** Page 79 ***

ANDY PEEBLES: Did the old fear come back from the old days, that you were having to take a step which involved somebody else?

(b) JOHN LENNON: It did, yes I was terrified... She (Yoko) finally says, look you are going to have to sign something to say that they have the right to put the record out. I was saying, you're sure? You're sure? Why don't you sign it? You figure it, I don't want to put me name on it.

(t) JOHN LENNON: It did, yes I was terrified... She finally says, look you are going to have to sign something to say that they have the right (laugh) to put the record out. I was saying, you're sure? You're sure? Why don't you sign it? (laugh) You put your name on it, I don't want to put me name on it.

Listen!

 

*** Page 80 ***

(t) JOHN LENNON: I love Fawlty Towers, I'd like to be in THAT (laugh), you know. I mean, part of me would sooner have been a comedian, you know. I just don't have the guts to stand up and do it but I'd love to be in the Monty Python, you know (laugh), rather than the Beatles, in a way, or the Goons.

(b) YOKO ONO: That's the thing that saved us, you know, the fact that he's funny, you know, and he says I'm funny so, you know, we both make each other laugh in a way, you know.

(t)
YOKO ONO: That's the thing that saved us, the fact that he's funny, and he says I'm funny so . . .

JOHN LENNON: ...peculiar (laugh).

YOKO ONO: . . . we both (laughs at John's comment) make each other laugh in a way.

 
John's mention of the Goons didn't make the print version. Neither did his little joke on "funny" vs. "peculiar". Note that his words preceding "peculiar" on the tape are lost due to the snipping of Yoko's "you know"s.

Listen!

A reason for including so much material on this one is for comparison's sake with an interview from 1964 while on tour in America. John is asked about the Beatles' Pyramus and Thisbe sketch on the Around the Beatles tv special. The laughter is from people in the background.

INTERVIEWER: In this you included some comedy but the other guys . . . You were the only female as far as your characterization . . .

JOHN LENNON (funny tough guy voice): Look, I don't want to argue . . . any insinuations, mister. (laughter) We was doing Shakespeare, (morphs into dopey girl voice) and I had to be Thisbe, the girl. (laughter)

INTERVIEWER: Why were you chosen to be Thisbe, the girl, John?

JOHN LENNON: Because, you know, if anybody likes dressing up more stupid than the rest I enjoy, y'know, and I enjoy doin' it. I was asked to do it, 'cause they thought, 'cause I've got a deeper voice, you know, I do the girl bit, sort of (low growls), all that bit.

INTERVIEWER: Do you like Shakespearian literature generally?

JOHN LENNON: As far as I'm concerned, Shakespeare's a drag. (laughter)

INTERVIEWER (mildly surprised): Is that right?

JOHN LENNON: Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: Well on the plane the other night, Ringo had a statement to make that he really enjoys doing those shtiks of comedy...

JOHN LENNON: Oh, that was different.

INTERVIEWER: ...to do the comedy sketches. He'd rather do that than play, he said. Do you feel the same way?

JOHN LENNON: Well he says that, but if he was doing comedy sketches every night, he'd be saying, I'd rather sing or play than do comedies. You know, it's just whatever you're not doing. (Listen!) But we enjoy, you know, messing around with Shakespeare, but, you know, we read him in school and that's enough.

INTERVIEWER: What type of reading do you do?

JOHN LENNON: I read anything.

 
Excepting, of course, Shakespeare.

 

*** Page 82 ***

(b) JOHN LENNON: That's why I started from the Mother album onwards trying to shave off all imagery, pretensions of poetry, illusions of grandeur, I call a la Dylan, Dylanesque, you know. I didn't write any of that.

(t) JOHN LENNON: That's why I started from the Mother album onwards trying to shave off all imagery, pretensions of poetry, illusions of grandeur, I call a la Dylan, Dylanesque. I didn't want any of that.

Listen!

 

*** Page 84 ***

On Kiss Kiss Kiss

(b) JOHN LENNON: She's trying to do, you know, what was it . . . I got the image of that Japanese movie running through the glass, you know.

(t) JOHN LENNON: She's trying to do, you know, what was it . . . I got the image of that Japanese movie running through the grass, you know.

Listen!

 

*** Page 84 ***

On Kiss Kiss Kiss

(b) YOKO ONO: But it's probably mainly sort of like a feminine and Asian vulnerability that women are not . . . getting scared of exposing now.

(t) YOKO ONO: But it's mainly sort of like a feminine energy and vulnerability that women are not . . . getting scared of exposing now.

Listen!

 

*** Page 89 ***

(b) JOHN LENNON: That's why you hear me muttering at the beginning to the other half of the sky, which is Chairman Mao's famous statement.

(t) JOHN LENNON: That's why you hear me muttering at the beginning, it's "for the other half of the sky", which is Chairman Mao's famous statement.

Listen!

 

*** Page 94 ***

On "it" - what John and Yoko are doing, I guess.

ANDY PEEBLES: And you're obviously two very satisfied people on the strength of it.

(b) JOHN LENNON: Yeah, we like doing it, that's the point, isn't it?

(t) JOHN LENNON: Yeah, we like doing it, that's the point, isn't it? (sings) "When I'm calling you . . ."

Listen!

John sings the main phrase from the song "Indian Love Call" from the operetta Rose-Marie, with music by Rudolf Friml.

 

*** A few typos ***

Life With The Lions (not Lyons, page 17); Dick Gregory (not Gregg, page 23); Bob Wooler (not Wooller, page 56); Jesse Davis (not Davies, page 80); Fred Seaman (not Siemen, page 91); Tom Snyder (not Schneider, page 92).


The Playboy Interviews

The Playboy Interviews, from September 1980, were conducted by David Sheff. With all due respect, it sounds to me like John carried the interviews along almost completely under his own steam.

Same rules as above:

For some of these excerpts, it seemed more of a bother than a help presenting both versions. For one thing, John's answer might be a bit lengthy; for another, there was not such a rigorous effort to transcribe the spoken words exactly. Just figure that wherever you see italics in the tape (t) version, something's different from the book.

 

*** Page 142 ***

(t) LENNON: Please Please Me is my song complete. It was my attempt at writing a Roy Orbison song, would you believe it? I wrote it in the other bedroom in my house at Menlove Avenue, in Woolton, which was my auntie's place, the suburbs. I remember the day and the pink eiderdown, the bed, and I'd heard Roy Orbison doing Only the Lonely or something. And I was trying (sings), "Please me", that's where that came from. And also I was always intrigued by the words of (sings) "Please, lend your little ears to my pleas"--a Bing Crosby song. I was always intrigued by the double use of the word "please." So it was a combination of Bing Crosby and Roy Orbison. Although the arrangement was made by all of us, I mean, the song did not sound like that when I wrote it, it was just a basic whatever on the guitar, y'know.

 

*** Page 157 ***

On Hey Jude

(t) LENNON: But I always heard it as a song to me. If you think about it . . . Yoko's just come into the picture. He's saying, "Hey, Jude--hey, John." I mean, so I'm sounding like one of those fans that's writing things into it, but you can hear it as a song to me, although it's also a song about him and Frannie Schwartz, at the time, too. But you hear the lines "a chip on your shoulder" and all those things, I always took personally 'cause I was the one with a chip on me shoulder. And "go out and get her", you know, and forget everything else. So subconsciously I take it he was saying, Go ahead. On a conscious level he didn't want me to go ahead.

 
There's a discrepancy here that's easy to miss. According to the book:

(b) ...subconsciously he was saying, Go ahead, leave me.

 
"Leave me" was not on the tape. I believe it was interpolated by the transcriber to "help" the reader understand the issue being addressed here, which I believe is John doing his thing with Yoko, not John leaving the Beatles.

 

*** Page 164 ***

On Things We Said Today

(b) LENNON: Good song.

(t) LENNON: That's Paul's version . . . when I said we both wrote songs around those chords (in a Del Shannon song), I think that's his version of the A minor (to) G. I'm not sure if he uses all those chords. Good song.

 
John's song based on the Del Shannon chords was I'll Be Back.

 

*** Page 169 ***

On Cry Baby Cry

(b) LENNON: Not me. A piece of rubbish.

 
If not Lennon's, then whose??? Not to mention, it was always one of my favorites. Unfortunately, this part of the interview isn't on my Beatle talk tapes, so I can't see if there was a transcription mix-up. In the old Hit Parader article in which John Lennon runs down "Who wrote what?", Cry Baby Cry is lumped under "A list of songs, according to Lennon, written by himself, about which he had no comment".

 

*** Page 171 ***

On Maxwell's Silver Hammer

(b) LENNON: That's Paul's. I hate it... And he had somebody hitting iron pieces and we spent more money on that song than any of them in the whole album, I think.

(t) LENNON: That's Paul's. I hate it... And he had Mal hitting iron pieces and we spent more money on that song than any of them in the whole album, I think.

 
For The Lost Lennon Tapes series, Double Fantasy engineer Lee DeCarlo provided one of the most enjoyable interviews. As you read this, imagine a subdued chuckle in Lee's voice that's always trying to break through - and eventually does in grand style.

LEE DeCARLO: You gotta understand, before we do this, that people say things all the time. I mean, but . . . We were laughin' and scratchin', and stuff like that, and you'd always . . . you know, you get really close to somebody and you just dig, you just, you know, you're poking fun at him if his shoelace is untied or, you know, anything like that. And we we're talking, I don't know, it was something weird, and he goes, "You know what broke the Beatles up?" He goes, "I'll tell you what broke the Beatles up." He said, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer broke up the Beatles." He goes, "By the time McCartney got done singing that song for five, or six, weeks, or however long it was, I hated him, I hated the song, I hated the band (choked with laughter now), I hated everything. I couldn't sit in the room any longer and listen to the vocals go on and on and on and on and on." (composing himself) And now I'm sure that that's just . . . you know, I say things that are, you know . . . "outside" all the time, too, and I'm sure that was just an outside comment, but it was very funny.

 
On his Yellow Submarine radio series, Ringo had a disgruntled comment for the song, possibly the only such remark in the whole series.

RINGO: You know, I remember adding a new piece to my drum kit when Paul wrote Maxwell's Silver Hammer. In addition to the cymbals, the snare, and the tom-tom, and the bass drum, well I had to learn to play the anvil. (sings) "Bing bing!" (Song plays.) ...And we started with Maxwell's Silver Hammer; as you know, not my fave.

 
Now Maxwell's Silver Hammer may be the song everyone loves to beat up on, but I have a distinct memory of walking down the boardwalk at some New Jersey resort, probably in the early 1990s, and a kid was lugging a boombox with Maxwell blasting - and leaving a trail of smiling, laughing, finger-snapping people in his wake. The effect was amazing.

 

*** Page 172 ***

On the Yellow Submarine movie

(t) LENNON: The Yellow Submarine people, who were gross animals, apart from the guy who drew the painting, the actual yellow submarine, came and, apart from sort of lifting all the ideas for the movie out of our heads and not giving us any credit - like Eric Segal writing Lennonesque lines straight from In His Own Write style and the crew . . . We had nothing to do with that movie and we sort of resented them and we didn't know what it was. It was the third movie that we owed these United Artists and Brian had set it up and we had nothing to do with it and we knew nothing about it. But I like the movie. I like Heinz (Edelmann)'s artwork. But they got all the ideas for the glove in the sky and the thing that sucks people up was my idea. They said, have you got any monsters? I said, yeah, there's Horace the vacuum cleaner in the swimming pool which was a thing you could buy, and it went 'round the pool sucking up the things, you know. And I said that could be a monster that sucks . . . And all things like that, they just took them and never credited. They wanted another song; I knocked off Hey Bulldog.

 
For more on this, see my essay on John's contributions to the Yellow Submarine movie.

 

*** Page 172 ***

(b)
PLAYBOY: Don't Let Me Down?

LENNON: That's me, singing about Yoko.

PLAYBOY: Two Of Us?

LENNON: Mine. By the way, Rod Stewart turned Don't let Me Down into (singing) "Maggie don't go-o-o." That's one the publishers never noticed.

(t)
PLAYBOY: Don't Let Me Down?

LENNON: That's me, singing about Yoko . . .

PLAYBOY: Two Of Us?

LENNON (disregarding Two Of Us): . . . which Rod Stewart took note for note and turned into (singing) "Maggie don't go-o-o", some girl's name, "Maggie don't go-o-o". That's one the publishers never noticed.


Which leaves Two Of Us unaddressed. Seeing John say "Mine" in the book threw me for a loop, always figuring it was all or mainly Paul's. At least, Paul is the one who teaches Two Of Us to the Beatles on Sweet Apple Trax, volume 3, and takes the lead in giving it various treatments during the Get Back sessions. So "Mine" would appear to be simply an artifact of an overzealous transcriber.

On the other hand, on his Yellow Submarine radio series, Ringo said,

RINGO: When we were recording, sometimes one of us would come into the studio with only part of a song finished, or maybe only a title in our head. Well, here's a song like that. When John brought it in, he called it On Our Way Home. And when we'd finished with it in the studio it became Two Of Us.

On the third hand, that was obviously a scripted piece for Ringo, not something straight out of his own memory.

On the fourth hand, in the old Hit Parader article in which John Lennon runs down "Who wrote what?", Two of Us is lumped with the "Songs which Lennon attributed directly to Paul McCartney, again offering no comment."

 

*** Page 173 ***

(b)
PLAYBOY: Dig A Pony?

LENNON: Another piece of garbage,

PLAYBOY: I've Got A Feeling?

LENNON: Paul.

(t)
PLAYBOY: Dig A Pony?

LENNON: Another piece of garbage, which part of it is in ELO's last record All Over The World. He just takes one little line from it, very nicely, too.

PLAYBOY: I've Got A Feeling?

LENNON: Paul. And there's part of me on it. No, that's the one ELO took the line from. (sings) "Everybody had a good time." Right? You hear it. He just does that line in the middle of All Over The World, Jeff Lynne he just does that one little lick.

 

*** Page 173 ***

On Drive My Car

(b) LENNON: His song, with contributions from me.

(t) LENNON: His song, with contributions from the . . . eeahhh, don't know if I put anything in, you know what, how's it go besides the lyric? That was . . . it was a la Motown lick at the time (sings) "dum dum dum dum diddle dum bowm bow" was the Motown bass line. And he got this drive my car thing "beep beep beep beep yeah" happened in the studio live, I think we just threw that in.

 

*** Page 190 ***

On I'm Your Angel

(b) ONO: ...It was a warm night, I felt good about it, we saw horse carriages in the park - and I just got inspired.

 
Um, Yoko, I wonder what the Makin' Whoopee people have to say about your inspiration.

 

*** Page 95 ***

On evolution

I'll end with my favorite passage from the Playboy interviews. Actually, I had no recollection of this from when I read the book the first time. If you've seen any of the evolution pages on my web site, you'll know why it rings a bell with me.

(b)
LENNON: Nor do I think we came from monkeys, by the way.

PLAYBOY: To change the subject.

LENNON: To change the subject. That's another piece of garbage. What the hell's it based on? ... I don't believe in the evolution of fish to monkeys to men. Why aren't monkeys changing into men now? It's absolute garbage. It's absolutely irrational garbage, as mad as the ones who believe the world was made only four thousand years ago, the fundamentalists. That and the monkey thing are both as insane as the other. I've nothing to base it on; it's only a gut feeling. They always draw that progression--these apes standing up suddenly. The early men are always drawn like apes, right? Because that fits in the theory we have been living with since Darwin.

I don't buy that monkey business... I don't buy it. I've got no basis for it and no theory to offer, I just don't buy it. Something other than that. Something simpler. I don't buy anything other than "It was and ever shall be." I can't conceive of anything less or more. The other theories change all the time... It keeps all the old professors happy in the university... I don't know if there's any harm in it except they ram it down everybody's throat... There.

 
To which I say, nicely done, Johnny. And don't be ashamed of your "gut feeling". The day your gut feeling says there's nothing extraordinary about a speck of iron ore bouncing up the steepest mountainside, turning itself into a psychedelically painted Rolls Royce along the way, then maybe Darwinian microstep evolution is worth a second thought. Maybe.


John and Yoko on WPLJ

A web search fully confirmed my impression that this radio appearance by John and Yoko is virtually unknown. It's been released on a bootleg recording called When Is The Last Time You Kissed Mickey Mouse?, and a mention of that bootleg is about it (writing in Aug 2007).

I think this show of John and Yoko's is a hoot; I laugh more every time I hear it. If I had to pick two items from the Beatles' collected works to take to a desert island, it would probably be this and Cambridge 1969.

About all the particulars I have is that John and Yoko appeared on WPLJ-FM in New York City on June 6 1971. In a few spots in the background there is another male voice, that of deejay Howard Smith.

Yoko asks a bunch of odd questions, and John growls out nuttier "answers". Here are a few of the questions worked over. Yoko delivers them in a variety of human moods, some never before identified. You'll have to imagine John's responses.

 
Three sound bitties:


Judas City

Judas City was a film Yoko Ono starred in before she joined the Beatles. Please don't quote me as an authority on the film, but my understanding is that Judas City was never completed and the footage was then taken and intercut with new footage by a different director and actors to make a film called Satan's Bed, which was released in 1965.

Here's a plot summary of the Judas City component found on a few web pages:

Ono, in a kimono, plays Ito, the Japanese bride-to-be of a drug-smuggling immigration agent who wants to abandon the wonderful world of crime for the life of a married man. Depositing Ito at a Times Square hotel, Pauly rushes off to make arrangements for her to stay with a friend on Long Island. But Lou, a small-time drug dealer, doesn't want to lose his main supplier so he cancels Pauly's wedding by having the hotel bellboy bring the confused Ito to his Uncle Eddie's place ("Take a look, an Eastern delicacy!") where she's robbed and raped. Then Lou takes "the Oriental chick" to his place where she's raped again....

 
These are the most interesting bits of dialog on my audio tape. I only have about 9 minutes worth, and probably a quarter of that is traffic noise.

Man 1: Who's the doll with the bright feathers?

Man 2: Just checked her in. Her name is Mary Tagawaho, Kadaki, Japan. She's a bride-to-be. He should have been here to meet her.

. . .

Man 3: Say, what's she got that our American girls ain't?

. . .

Pauly: I'm finished! I mean it this time, Lou!

Lou: There's no finished, Pauly. You got a piece of the action.

Pauly: Don't "Pauly" me, I'm through! I'm getting married.

Lou: Yeh? That's nice, who's the girl... Oh, they're the best kind. They don't talk back.

 

Here are two sound bites from Judas City:


Jock and Yono - Part 2

Nothing weighty here - just indulging my own sense of humor.

For a start, here's John Lennon's familiar comment on the 18 month split with Yoko. He's on the air with Scott Muni on WNEW in Feb 1975.

 
Attentive readers might remember John's "anomynous" in the Andy Peebles interview material above. Here he is talking to Elliot Mintz, probably early 1975.

 
Next up, John talks about the meeting that convinced him to go with Allen Klein. I very much enjoy John's little chuckle accompanying "...and Yoko," but don't ask me to supply the psycho-analytical interpretation.

 
Here's an excerpt from the 1966 press conference in Chicago where John is asked to explain his statement, "We're more popular than Jesus Christ now." John lists tv and cinema as things which have overtaken Christianity in importance in people's lives, and which he might have used instead of "Beatles". After he gets to "motorcars" there's an unmistakable affirmation from the heavenly host who were apparently eavesdropping. I hear it as, "Thou telleth 'em, Johnny!"

 
Finally, here's a visual treat for you. It was an entry of mine in a funny caption contest back in 1989. Here it is 2007 and I'm still laughing my head off.       :-)       :-)       :-)       :-)       :-)       :-)       :-)       :-)       :-)       :-)

 

(Click for funny caption.)

"Now look, lads, there's only room for four photos on the album cover.
So who's it gonna be...?"
(Click for funny caption.)

But, can you believe it, that masterpiece lost (lost!!!) to this childish gibberish:

"Ringo! What's that crawling in your hair!?
Jeepers, Yoko, you've got one too!"

Almost twenty years later and I'm still   :-( -ing my eyes out. (Just kidding, David!) There were also a couple of meanies, if you can handle 'em:

"Don't lie about it . . . it was you and you who called Linda a no-talent, bed-wetting groupie . . .
so I'm taking my bass and going home!"

and,
"Yoko, why don't you go over to those two electrical outlets over there
and go like this?"


John's songwriting technique

John occasionally discussed his songwriting technique in which he starts with somebody else's song and then massages it into something new and original. I always found this pretty interesting and had the idea to pull together all of the examples I could find.

Unfortunately, the final result is not all that exciting, so I invite you to pass over this section. I leave it here because of the effort involved, and it might be ever so slightly "important" in a study of the Beatles' art.

I've added italics to draw your attention to the important part.

 

***

JOHN LENNON: So any combination of the two of us writing, that's how we wrote. Including completely separately, and completely (together) starting from scratch, "Let's write one about this cup", you know, where we'd have no inspiration, but we wanted to write something, let's write one like . . . let's write one like that record that we like.

 

***

On Come Together

JOHN LENNON: Learys wanted me to write them a campaign song, and their slogan was "Come together". But before I wrote their song I was writing in the office just sort of . . . I can't say this 'cause we're gonna get sued, because it's silly. But I was writing this, um, like, You Can't Catch Me, you know, the same rhythm and using the old words, I often do it, you know. If I'm trying to write one like Long Tall Sally, or I'm just singing, I'm going, "o lahns doo-a dah-ma fit," no, "gonna tell wunk mary" and just make up . . . change . . . paradyze the words. I was doing that and then when I got . . . I stopped and then said, just came out, "Come together", 'cause "come together" was rolling around in my head. "Right now, over me," you know. "Over me" was meant to be like a joke, like (sings) "oh-hohver me", like Elvis used to, (sings) "oh-hohver you." So that was like that... And they're suing me because it's like You Can't Catch Me, you know, for the first half a line or something. Because Chuck Berry's words went something like that. Anyway, it's not him that's serving, it's his people, so you have to not put that in because they'll say, oh there's . . . he's admitted it. And I think it's a compliment to Chuck Berry.

 

***

From the Playboy Interviews (page 127):

PLAYBOY: How did you feel about the lawsuit George lost that claimed the music to My Sweet Lord is a rip-off of the Chiffons' He's So Fine?

LENNON: Well, he walked right into it. He knew what he was doing.

PLAYBOY: Are you saying he consciously plagiarized the song?

LENNON: He must have known, you know. He's smarter than that. It's irrelevant, actually--only on a monetary level does it matter. In the early years, I'd often carry around someone else's song in my head, and only when I'd put it down on tape--because I can't write music--would I consciously change it to my own melody because I knew that otherwise somebody would sue me.

(preceding sentence from audio tape) Especially in the early days, would often write a... lyric in my head to some other song, because I can't write music so I would carry it 'round as somebody else's song and then change it when I got to putting it down on paper, or putting it down on tape, consciously change it because I knew somebody's gonna sue me or everybody's gonna say, "What a rip-off."

George could have changed a few bars in that song and nobody could have ever touched him, but he just let it go and paid the price. Maybe he thought God would just sort of let him off.

 
In another interview John is much less cold-blooded towards poor George:

JOHN LENNON: My Sweet Lord is a nice piece of work. It's irrelevant, only on a monetary level, that it has that echoes of He's So Fine. (In other words, artistically, it's irrelevant that MSL has echoes of HSF; only on a money level does it matter.) If he'd really been consciously stealing it, to steal it, and not that he was carried away by the whole idea of the sound of the song, which is what he must have... done . . . He was carried away with it because it was a creative piece of work. But he could have changed it enough, consciously.

 

***

John Lennon on KSAN radio in Los Angeles with deejay Tom Donohue:

LENNON: "We're gonna play track two, side two, called Surprise Surprise. And, yeah, believe it or not, when I first started writing this it sounded like 'Little darling, didididooo didoo . . .' (Here Comes The Sun.) But listen, and you'll hear it's nowhere near it."

 

***

On WNEW radio in New York with deejay Dennis Elsis,

JOHN LENNON: ...and that was What You Got. The guitar lick was inspired, should we say, by Money Money Money by the O'Jays, was it? Yeah. But . . . 'Cause you'd never recognize it now...

 

***

On Fame, by David Bowie

From the Andy Peebles interview:

JOHN LENNON: So I just contributed whatever I contributed, which is, you know, like backwards piano and (sings) "Oooh" and a couple of things - a repeat of "fame". And then we needed a middle eight so we took some Stevie Wonder middle eight and did it backwards (laughs), you know, and we made a record out of it, right? So he got his first Number One.

 

***

Here's a case where John discovers from someone else where he probably got a song from. From the Double Fantasy sessions:

ELLIOT MINTZ, series host: Now at the end of this run-through, off in the background, studio engineer Jon Smith sings a phrase from the song Flower Princess reminded him of, You Make Me Feel Brand New, a smash by the Stylistics in 1974.

JON SMITH (sings falsetto): "You make me feel brand new."

JOHN LENNON: Ah, that's where I got it from, is it? (laughs) That's why I have to rewrite it. I just want the backing.

ELLIOT MINTZ: A few minutes later, with producer Jack Douglas ready to roll a tape for real, John sets the vibes for the players.

JOHN LENNON: Relax, have fun. We'll take a couple of tracks. I have to rewrite the damn thing anyway 'cause it's like everything we ever heard. I'll go home, listen to the samba and bring it with me in case that's what I really need. But let's just have a nice little bit of fun, lay it down, then we can go. Ok?

 

***

In my Beatle Inspirations? page I mention several other instances where a song of John's seems to borrow from another song. The ones I mention are:

 
Assuming any similarities are not a figment of my imagination, one would have to conclude John's borrowings were unconscious, based on all the quotes assembled here. If he were aware of a similarity, he would have stomped it out, no questions asked.

 
P.S. In case I've left the impression that I'm decrying such outrageous thievery here, let me dispel the notion. My own position is right in line with John's comment where he points out it's a compliment to the original artist. If somebody found a few words of mine, or a sample of guitar playing, to use in a million-selling book or recording, great! I'd be thrilled with a tiny credit. How can I claim any injury when I had no notion, much less capability, of creating and marketing that particular work myself? Admittedly, there's always the question of how much is too much.

 


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