John Lennon, Jann S. Wenner
Last week, the justice system denied Mark David Chapman parole for the shooting of John Lennon. Apparently, 20 years wasn't long enough to forget. This fall, 15 Beatles-related books are scheduled to be published. The Beatles' final album, Abbey Road, was released 15 years before I was born. My recent issue of Guitar World magazine has an ad featuring John Lennon and his new signature guitar. The Lennon mystique lives.
The recent re-issue of Lennon Remembers is the chronicle of the complete 1970 Rolling Stone interviews between author Jann S. Werner, John Lennon, and Yoko Ono. The book's multiple introductions provide a background for the interviews. They show the state of mind John Lennon was in, and what he had recently gone through.
Throughout the interview, Lennon comes off sounding stuck up and snobby. When asked about the first post-Fab Four solo albums he says "I wouldn't play it [Harrison's] in my house," and "I thought Paul's was rubbish." Later, he accuses the Rolling Stones of copying every Beatles song two months after release. He also seems very bitter towards the rest of the Beatles for their attitudes towards Yoko Ono, whose role in this book is minimal and usually just echoes Lennon.
Part way through the book, Lennon shatters the wholesome and innocent image of the youthful Beatles. He describes the band's use of drugs since their early days of playing clubs in Liverpool. At one point, he states "I've always needed drugs to survive. The others too, but I always had more. I always took more pills and more of everything, cause I'm more crazy."
The format of the book is one continuous chronological transcript of the interview. There are very few breaks in between sections, which sometimes becomes monotonous. The questions which Wenner asks are relevant and he always digs deep enough without being too intrusive; he asks Lennon his opinion of Charles Manson, about his introduction to Ono, and about the death of manager Brian Epstein.
At the end, Wenner asks "Do you have a picture of 'When I'm 64?'' Lennon responds "No, no. I hope we're a nice old couple living off the coast of Ireland or something like that, looking at our scrapbook of madness." To me, this is a happy/sad ending to the interview. It points to a happy future but to a future that never occurred. It made me wonder what Lennon would have produced if he had lived to see today.