September 28th, 1974: John joins Dennis Elsas’ radio show as a special guest and gamely reports on the weather for the afternoon.
JOHN: Let’s see how hot it is. Temperature is sixty-eight– no wonder I’m sweating. Humidity ninety-three p-c-t, whatever that is.
JOHN: Oh. [Elsas laughs] Why don’t they do those little round things? Barometer thirty point nought three and falling– oh, disgusting. Wind south-east, eight miles an hour, cloudy. Somebody said the wea– the air was unacceptable today, but I accept it. Sounded alright to me.
ELSAS: That’s the, uh, official forecast.
JOHN: Here’s the official WNEW weather forecast. Mostly cloudy, with periods. Of rain, this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow. High times— Oh, no. [laughs] Haha. Wish it was! High this afternoon and tomorrow in the seventies, low tonight in the mid-sixties. Watch out for it. That’s about my period. Monday’s outlook– fair and cool, man.
January 1st, 1976: Elliot Mintz interviews John Lennon about his feelings for The Beatles, now and then, and takes him back to the early days. John is lucid and somber. (Note: The suffixing audio is an unreleased song by John called ‘Memories’, which John worked on in several iterations between 1974 and 1979.)
MINTZ: Before I even ask the first question— Do you still get troubled, and disturbed, or bothered, or bored?
JOHN: [sarcastic] Me? Me, Elliot? Troubled, disturbed, bothered, or bored? Don’t you know that pop stars are above that? That we live in a cloud of happiness, that no one can touch?
MINTZ: [pause] In other words, you do get bored talking about—
MINTZ: Fine. It’s back now to, uh, November of 1963—
JOHN: It is for you. [laughter] For me, it’s April of 1984.
MINTZ: The last time we talked about Beatles and the like, you said–I could almost quote, all your memories of that experience are now good ones, and you’ve erased all the stuff that was, uh, upsetting you, and now the, the thing that you just want to keep in mind is that the music was good. And it’s done. That’s pretty much where we left it, is it?
JOHN: Uh–good, good. That must have been when I was getting positive, yeah. I–I like that. But of course I remember the other stuff too. So I get a bit absolute in my statements. [laughs] Which sometimes get me into deep water, and sometimes into the shallow. But both statements are true, and it suits me fine.
MINTZ: Okay. As we enter 1976 as we are now, when you think back to the days of Beatlemania, these days, are the thoughts good ones for you? Or are they stuff - are they things that you’d rather not think about?
JOHN: No, I don’t have any preference, you know. If Beatle life is brought to my attention, I think about it, or if it drifts into my head… I don’t have any— [pause] I don’t know. I can’t–I can’t answer the question. It depends on which thought, where I am, who brings it up, what angle…
MINTZ: Well, okay, I guess the best angle was at the very very beginning, for you. I just have a feeling that before the whole world got wind of what The Beatles were all about, you were probably writing your best songs, having the best times, enjoying your shows. It’s that era that I’d like to talk about for the beginning. London, Homburg, Liverpool—
JOHN: Hamburg. Homburg is a hat, I think.
MINTZ: [laughs] Yes, sorry. Hamburg. When you think back to those times, just tell me some of the thoughts that go through your mind. The mages that you see when you think of yourself as being a twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two year-old.
JOHN: [long pause; quiet] Um. Definitely weren’t writing the best songs, then. We were just… just learning the trade. But uh, performance was good. We were a good live band, then. I enjoyed that. We worked and played long hours, which was good at that age, when you could get work. And in general, it’s pretty pleasant memories of struggling along, you know, to go–lord knows where. But at the time, it didn’t seem any more fun than now. It was just, you had a job, or you didn’t have a job. Look— Everything, when you look back on it, you realize how good things were. Even though at the time you might have thought, “Well, god, we’ve gotta play six hours a night, all we get is two dollars, and you’ve gotta take these pills to keep awake, man, it’s not right,” you know. But uh, looking back on it, it wasn’t too bad at all. And no doubt looking back on this… well. You know. Everything looks great through the– through the memory.
August, 1980: John declares himself a chameleon.
JOHN: I’m a chameleon. I’m influenced by whatever’s going on, you know. It’s the same as, if Elvis can do it, I can do it. If The Everly Brothers can do it, me and Paul can do it. If Goffin and King can do it, Paul and I can do it. If Buddy Holly can do it, I can do it. So whatever it is, I can do it.
August, 1980: In an interview with Playboy writer David Sheff, John doesn’t take kindly to having his former bandmates’ talents underestimated.
SHEFF: Critics would criticize Ringo’s drumming by saying, you know, “If he wasn’t a Beatle—”
JOHN: Ringo’s a damn good drummer. He was–he was always a good drummer. He’s not technically good—
SHEFF: But critics used to criticize him all the time.
JOHN: Well–yeah. I think Ringo’s drumming is underrating– underrated, the same way as Paul’s bass-playing is underrated. Paul was one of the most innovative bass players that ever played bass. And half the stuff that’s going on now is directly ripped off from his Beatle period. He was always… uh, coy about his bass-playing. He’s an egomaniac about everything else about him, but his bass-playing he was always a bit coy about. He is a great musician who played the bass like few other people could play it.
Now if you compare Paul’s bass-playing with The Rolling Stones’ bass player’s bass-playing, and you compare Ringo’s drumming with Charlie Watts’, they’re equal to, if not better. But the credit has always gone to, uh, Bill and Charlie, and Paul and Ringo didn’t get it. But we got other credits that must have made them feel bad, too, so it all equals out in the end. But I always objected to the fact that because Charlie came on a little more arty than Ringo, and knew jazz, and did cartoons, that he got credit. And I think that Charlie’s a damn good drummer and the other guy’s a good bass player, but I think Paul and Ringo stand up anywhere, any– with any of the rock drummers. Not technically great, and none of us were technical musicians, none of us could read music, none of us can write it, but–but as pure musicians, as–as inspired humans to make the noise, they’re as good as anybody.
August, 1980: John thinks back to the recording of ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?’ during the tension fueled White Album sessions.
JOHN: [Paul] even recorded that all by himself in the other room, that’s how it was getting in those days. We came in and he’d… he’d made the whole record. Him drumming, him playing the piano, him singing. Just because–it was getting to be where he wanted to do it like that, but he couldn’t–couldn’t–maybe he couldn’t make the break from The Beatles, I don’t know what it was. But you know, I enjoyed the track. But we’re all, I’m sure–I can’t speak for George, but I was always hurt when he’d knock something off without… involving us, you know? But that’s just the way it was then.
August, 1980: In his interview with Playboy writer David Sheff, John’s spurious account of the authorship of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ reveals an insecurity with his partnership with Paul at the time, and its perceived exclusivity.
JOHN: Rigby’s, um, his first verse, and the rest of the verses are basically mine. But the way he did it was–uh, was he had the song, and he knew he’d got the song. So rather than ask me, “John, do these lyrics,” because by that period, he didn’t want to say that… to me. Okay? So what he would say was, “Hey, you guys. Finish off the lyrics.” While he was sort of fiddling around with the track or something, or, or arranging it, in the other part of the giant studio in EMI. Now, I sat there with Mal Evans, a road manager who was a telephone installer, and Neil Aspinall, who was a not-completed student accountant who became our road manager. And I was insulted and hurt that he’d thrown it out in the air, but I wanted to grab a piece of it, and I wrote it with them sitting at the table. So. There might be a version that they contributed, but there isn’t a line in there that they put in.
But that’s how it–he just sort of— ‘Cause that’s the kind of insensitivity he would have, which made me upset in the later years, because to him that meant nothing. But that’s the kind of person he is. So he threw ‘em out and said, “Here, finish these up,” like–to anybody, who was around, but actually he meant I was to do it, but–you know, Neil and Mal were sitting there, and…
“If Paul is really, really hurt by it, I’ll know by the vibes come round even if he doesn’t call. Well, I’ll… explain it to him, I’ll even write to him, you know, if he really, really thinks it’s really, really serious.”
— John talking about “How Do You Sleep”
“I was laughing at his later, but at first I was thinking, ‘Oh. Hmm. Oh I see, oh that’s what he thinks!’”
— John talking about Ram
(St. Regis Hotel Interview, 9/9/71)
December 20th, 1974 (New York): John invites himself to a radio interview George is recording in his hotel room and provides a suspicious explanation for the lack of meetings amongst the four former Beatles. (For Beatles legal matters, they had actually just seen Paul, who with Linda also attended George’s concert in silly disguise. After this interview, they went to George’s end-of-tour party, where George, John, and Paul all met and hugged.)
JOHN: First of all, it’s [a problem of] immigration for me, George, and Paul. Right? So every time George or Paul, when they come here, they have to ask permission eighteen months in advance.
GEORGE: [pointed] Well. Paul—
JOHN: Shhh, I’m a poet.
GEORGE: [long pause] Hang on— Okay. Let’s hear Johnny’s version—
JOHN: It’s impossible for more than one or two to get in at the same time. The most that there were ever here were me, Paul, and–who was the other one? [laughs] Ringo. […] Just, it’s impossible for us to even get into a room together, so the only way we talk is either over the phone, or through some paper.
Shhh, I’m a poet.