Pete Hamill spoke with John Lennon for an interview
that was published in Rolling Stone Magazine's
June 5th 1975 issue. John speaks of his recent
separation and reconciliation with Yoko Ono, the
recent Beatles legal settlement, and also speaks
positively on the possibility of a Beatles reunion.
Other topics include his own recent solo albums,
his pending immigration case, and working with
Phil Spector, Elton John, and Harry Nilsson.
"What's your life like right now?"
"Well, life... It's '75 now, isn't it? Well,
I've just settled the Beatles settlement. It must've
happened in the last month. Took three years.
(pause) And on this day that you've come here,
I seem to have moved back in here. In the last
three days. By the time this goes out, I don't
know... That's a big change. Maybe that's why
I'm sleeping funny. As a friend says, I went out
for coffee and some papers and I didn't come back.
(chuckles) Or vice versa. It's always written
that way, y'know. All of us. You know, the guy
walked. It's never that simple."
"What did happen with you and Yoko? Who broke
it up and how did you end up back together again?"
"Well, it's not a matter of who broke it
up. It broke up. And why did we end up back together?
(pompous voice) 'We ended up together again because
it was diplomatically viable...' Come on. We got
back together because we love each other."
"I loved your line: 'The separation didn't
"That's it. It didn't work out. And the reaction
to the breakup was all that madness. I was like
a chicken without a head."
"What was the final Beatles settlement?"
"In a nutshell, what was arranged was that
everybody gets their own individual monies. Even
up till this year, till the settlement was signed,
all the monies were going into one pot. All individual
records, mine, Ringo's, Paul's - all into one
big pot. It had to go through this big machinery
and then come out to us, eventually. So now, even
the old Beatle royalties, everything goes into
four separate accounts instead of one big pot
all the time. That's that. The rest of it was
ground rules. Everybody said the Beatles've signed
this paper, that means they're no longer tied
in any way. That's bullshit. We still own this
thing called Apple. Which, you can explain, is
a bank. A bank the money goes into. But there's
still the entity itself known as the Beatles.
The product, the name, the likeness, the Apple
thing itself, which still exists, and we still
have to communicate on it and make decisions on
it and decide who's to run Apple and who's to
do what. It's not as cut and dried as the papers
"Do the old Beatles records still go in a
"No one of us can say to EMI, 'Here's a new
package of Beatle material.' We still have to
okay everything together, you know, 'cause that's
the way we want it anyway."
"There's still a good feeling among the guys?"
"Yeah, yeah. I talked to Ringo and George
yesterday. I didn't talk to Paul 'cause he was
asleep. George and Paul are talkin' to each other
in L.A. now. There's nothin' going down between
us. It's all in people's heads."
"You went to one of George's concerts, what
are your thoughts on his tour?"
"It wasn't the greatest thing in history.
The guy went through some kind of mill. It was
probably his turn to get smacked. When we were
all together there was periods when the Beatles
were in, the Beatles were out, no matter what
we were doing. Now it's always the Beatles were
great or the Beatles weren't great, whatever opinion
people hold. There's a sort of illusion about
it. But the actual fact was the Beatles were in
for eight months, the Beatles were out for eight
months. The public, including the media, are sometimes
a bit sheeplike and if the ball starts rolling,
well, it's just that somebody's in, somebody's
out. George is out for the moment. And I think
it didn't matter what he did on tour."
"George told Rolling Stone that if you wanted
the Beatles, go listen to Wings. It seemed a bit
of a putdown."
"I didn't see what George said, so I really
don't have any comment. (pause) Band on the Run
is a great album. Wings is almost as conceptual
a group as Plastic Ono Band. Plastic Ono was a
conceptual group, meaning whoever was playing
was the band. And Wings keeps changing all the
time. It's conceptual. I mean, they're backup
men for Paul. It doesn't matter who's playing.
You can call them Wings, but it's Paul McCartney
music. And it's good stuff. It's good Paul music
and I don't really see the connection."
"What do you think of Richard Perry's work
"I think it's great. Perry's great, Ringo's
great, I think the combination was great and look
how well they did together. There's no complaints
if you're Number One."
"George said at his press conference that
he could play with you again but not with Paul.
How do you feel?"
"I could play with all of them. George is
entitled to say that, and he'll probably change
his mind by Friday. You know, we're all human.
We can all change our minds. So I don't take any
of my statements or any of their statements as
the last word on whether we will. And if we do,
the newspapers will learn about it after the fact.
If we're gonna play, we're just gonna play."
"In retrospect, what do you think of the
whole "Lennon Remembers" episode?"
"Well, the other guys, their reaction was
public. Ringo made some sort of comment that was
funny, which I can't remember, something like,
'You've gone too far this time, Johnnie.' Paul
said (stuffy voice), 'Well, that's his problem.'
I can't remember what George said. I mean, they
don't care, they've been with me for fifteen or
twenty years, they know damn well what I'm like.
It just so happens it was in the press. I mean,
they know what I'm like. I'm not ashamed of it
at all. I don't really like hurting people, but
Jann Wenner questioned me when I was almost still
in therapy and you can't play games. You're opened
up. It was like he got me on an acid trip. Things
come out. I got both reactions from that article.
A lot of people thought it was right on. My only
upset was Jann insisted on making a book out of
"'Walls and Bridges' has an undertone of
regret to it. Did you sit down consciously to
make an album like that?"
"No, well... Let's say this last year has
been an extraordinary year for me personally.
And I'm almost amazed that I could get anything
out. But I enjoyed doing Walls and Bridges and
it wasn't hard when I had the whole thing to go
into the studio and do it. I'm surprised it wasn't
just all bluuuugggghhhh. (pause) I had the most
peculiar year. And... I'm just glad that something
came out. It's describing the year, in a way,
but it's not as sort of schizophrenic as the year
really was. I think I got such a shock during
that year that the impact hasn't come through.
It isn't all on Walls and Bridges though. There's
a hint of it there. It has to do with age and
God knows what else. But only the surface has
been touched on Walls and Bridges, you know?"
"What was it about the year? Do you want
to try talking about it?"
"Well, you can't put your finger on it. It
started, somehow, at the end of '73, goin' to
do this Rock 'n' Roll album (with Phil Spector).
It had quite a lot to do with Yoko and I, whether
I knew it or not, and then, suddenly, I was out
on me own. Next thing I'd be waking up, drunk,
in strange places or reading about meself in the
paper, doin' extraordinary things, half of which
I'd done and half of which I hadn't done. But
you know the game anyway. And find meself sort
of in a mad dream for a year. I'd been in many
mad dreams, but this... It was pretty wild. And
then I tried to recover from that. And (long pause)
meanwhile life was going on, the Beatles settlement
was going on, other things, life was still going
on and it wouldn't let you sit with your hangover,
in whatever form that took. It was like something,
probably me-self, kept hitting me while I was
trying to do something. I was still trying to
do something. I was still trying to carry on a
normal life and the whip never let up - for eight
months. So... that's what was going on. Incidents:
You can put it down to which night with which
bottle or which night in which town. It was just
sort of a mad year like that... And it was just
probably fear, and being out on me own, and gettin'
old, and are ye gonna make it in the charts? Are
ye not gonna make it? All that crap, y'know. All
the garbage that y'really know is not the be-all
and end-all of your life, but if other things
are goin' funny, that's gonna hit you. If you're
gonna feel sorry for yourself, you're gonna feel
sorry for everything. What it's really to do with
is probably the same thing that it's always been
to do with all your life: whatever your own personal
problems really are, you know? So it was a year
that manifested itself (switches to deep actor's
voice) in most peculiar fashion. But I'm through
it and it's '75 now and I feel better and I'm
sittin' here and not lyin' in some weird place
with a hangover."
"Why do you feel better?"
"Because I feel like I've been on Sinbad's
voyage, you know, and I've battled all those monsters
and I've got back. (long pause) Weird."
"Tell me about the Rock 'n' Roll album."
"It started in '73 with Phil and fell apart.
I ended up as part of mad, drunk scenes in Los
Angeles and I finally finished it off on me own.
And there was still problems with it up to the
minute it came out. I can't begin to say, it's
just barmy, there's a jinx on that album. And
I've just started writing a new one. Got maybe
half of it written..."
"What about the stories that Spector's working
habits are a little odd? For example, that he
either showed off or shot off guns in the studios?"
"I don't like to tell tales out of school,
y'know. But I do know there was an awful loud
noise in the toilet of the Record Plant West."
"What actually did happen those nights at
the Troubadour when you heckled the Smothers Brothers
and went walking around with a Kotex on your head
asking the waitress, 'Do you know who I am?'"
"Ah, y'want the juice... If I'd said, 'Do
you know who I am?' I'd have said it in a joke.
Because I know who I am, and I know she knew,
because I musta been wearing a Kotex on me head,
right? I picked up a Kotex in a restaurant, in
the toilet, and it was clean and just for a gag
I came back to the table with it on me head. And
'cause it stuck there with sweat, just stayed
there, I didn't have to keep it on. It just stayed
there till it fell off. And the waitress said,
'Yeah, you're an asshole with a Kotex on,' and
I think it's a good remark and so what? Tommy
Smothers was a completely different night and
has been covered a million times. It was my first
night on Brandy Alexanders and my last (laughs).
And I was with Harry Nilsson, who was no help
at all (laughs)."
"What's your relationship with Nilsson? Some
critics say that he's been heavily influenced,
maybe even badly screwed up by you."
"Oh, that's bullshit."
"...and that you've also been influenced
"That's bullshit, too. I haven't been influenced
by Harry, only that I had a lot of hangovers whenever
I was with him (laughs). I love him. He's a great
guy and I count him as one of me friends. He hasn't
influenced me musically. And there's an illusion
going around about my production of Harry's album.
That he was trying to imitate me on his album."
"You mean that he'd gone into his primal
"That's it. They're so sheeplike - put this
in - and childlike about trying to put a tag on
what's going on. They use these expressions like
'primal' for anything that's a scream. Brackets:
Yoko was screaming before Janov was ever even
heard of-- that was her stint, usin' her voice
like an instrument. She was screamin' when Janov
was still jackin' off to Freud. But nowadays,
everything that's got a scream in it is called
primal. I know what they're talkin' about. The
very powerful emotional pitch that Harry reaches
at the end of 'Many Rivers to Cross' on the album
I produced for him (Pussy Cats). It's there, simply
enough, because when you get to a certain point
with your vocals, there ain't nowhere else to
go. Was Little Richard primaling before each sax
solo? That's what I want know. Was my imitation
Little Richard screams I used to put on all the
Beatles records before the solo - we all used
to do it, we'd go aaaarrrrgggghhhh! Was that primaling?
"Richard Perry has described you as a superb
producer but maybe in too much of a hurry."
"That's true [laughs]."
"But supposedly, when making the Beatles
records, you were painstaking and slow."
"No, I was never painstaking and slow. I
produced 'I Am the Walrus' at the same speed I
produced 'Whatever Gets You Thru the Night.' I
would be painstaking on some things, as I am now.
If there's a quality that occasionally gets in
the way of my talent, it's that I get bored quick
unless it's done quick. But 'I Am the Walrus'
sounds like a wonderful production. 'Strawberry
Fields' sounds like a big production. But I do
them as quick as I possibly can, without losing
(a) the feel and (b) where I'm going. The longest
track I personally spent time on was 'Revolution
9,' which was an abstract track where I used a
lot of tape loops and things like that. I still
did it in one session. But I accept that criticism
and I have it of myself. But I don't want to make
myself so painstaking that it's boring. But I
should (pause) maybe t'ink a little more. Maybe.
But on the other hand I think my criticism of
somebody like Richard Perry would be that he's
great but he's too painstaking. It gets too slick
and somewhere in between that is where I'd like
to go. I keep finding out all the time - what
I'm missing that I want to get out of it."
"Is there anybody that you'd like to produce?
For example, Dylan?"
"Dylan would be interesting because I think
he made a great album in Blood on the Tracks but
I'm still not keen on the backings. I think I
could produce him great. And Presley. I'd like
to resurrect Elvis. But I'd be so scared of him
I don't know whether I could do it. But I'd like
to do it. Dylan, I could do, but Presley would
make me nervous. But Dylan or Presley, somebody
up there... I know what I'd do with Presley. Make
a rock & roll album. Dylan doesn't need material.
I'd just make him some good backings. So if you're
reading this, Bob, you know..."
"Elton John has revived 'Lucy in the Sky
with Diamonds.' How do you feel about him as an
"Elton sort of popped in on the session for
Walls and Bridges and sort of zapped in and played
the piano and ended up singing 'Whatever Gets
You Thru the Night' with me. Which was a great
shot in the arm. I'd done three quarters of it,
'Now what do we do?' Should we put a camel on
it or a xylophone? That sort of thing. And he
came in and said, 'Hey, ah'll play some piano!'
Then I heard he was doing 'Lucy' and I heard from
a friend - 'cause he was shy - would I be there
when he cut 'Lucy'? Maybe not play on it but just
be there? So I went along. And I sang in the chorus
and contributed the reggae in the middle. And
then, again through a mutual friend, he asked
if it got to be Number One, would I appear onstage
with him, and I said sure, not thinkin' in a million
years it was gonna get to Number One. Al Coury
or no Al Coury, the promotion man at Capitol.
And there I was. Onstage."
"I read somewhere that you were very moved
by the whole thing."
"I was moved by it, but everybody else was
in tears. I felt guilty 'cause I wasn't in tears.
I just went up and did a few numbers. But the
emotional thing was me and Elton together. Elton
had been working in Dick James's office when we
used to send our demos in and there's a long sort
of relationship musically with Elton that people
don't really know about. He has this sort of Beatle
thing from way back. He'd take the demos home
and play them and... well, it meant a lot to me
and it mean a hell of a lot to Elton, and he was
in tears. It was a great high night, a really
high night... Yoko and I met backstage. And somebody
said, 'Well, there's two people in love.' That
was before we got back together. But that's probably
when we felt something. It was very weird. She
came backstage and I didn't know she was there,
'cause if I'd known she was there I'd've been
too nervous to go on, you know, I would have been
terrified. She was backstage afterward, and there
was just that moment when we saw each other and
like, it's like in the movies, you know, when
time stands still? And there was silence, everything
went silent, y'know, and we were just sort of
lookin' at each other and... oh, hello. I knew
she'd sent Elton and I a flower each, and we were
wearin' them onstage, but I didn't know she was
there and then everybody was around us and flash
flash flash. But there was that moment of silence.
And somebody observed it and told me later on,
after we were back together again, and said, "A
friend of mine saw you backstage and thought if
ever there was two in love, it's those two."
And I thought, well, it's weird somebody noticed
it... So it was a great night."
"There seems to be a lot of generosity among
the artists now."
"It was around before. It's harder when you're
on the make, to be generous, 'cause you're all
competing. But once you're sort of up there, wherever
it is... The rock papers love to write about the
jet-setting rock stars and they dig it and we
dig it in a way. The fact is that, yeah, I see
Mick, I see Paul, I see Elton, they're all my
contemporaries and I've known the other Beatles,
of course, for years, and Mick for ten years,
and we've been hangin' around since Rock Dreams.
And suddenly it's written up as they're-here-they're-there-they're-everywhere
bit, and it looks like we're trying to form a
club. But we always were a club. We always knew
each other. It just so happens that it looks more
dramatic in the paper."
"How do you relate to what we might call
the rock stars of the Seventies? Do you think
of yourself as an uncle figure, a father figure,
an old gunfighter?"
"It depends who they are. If it's Mick or
the Old Guard, as I call them, yeah, they're the
Old Guard. Elton, David are the newies. I don't
feel like an old uncle, dear, 'cause I'm not that
much older than half of 'em, heh heh. But... yeah,
I'm interested in the new people. I'm interested
in new people in America but I get a kick out
of the new Britons. I remember hearing Elton John's
'Your Song,' heard it in America - it was one
of Elton's first big hits - and remember thinking,
'Great, that's the first new thing that's happened
since we happened.' It was a step forward. There
was something about his vocals that was an improvement
on all of the English vocals until then. I was
pleased with it. And I was pleased with Bowie's
thing and I hadn't even heard him. I just got
this feeling from the image and the projections
that were coming out of England of him, well,
you could feel it."
"Do you think of New York as home now?"
"Yeah, this is the longest I've ever been
away from England. I've almost lived here as long
as I've lived in London. I was in London from,
let's see, '64, '65, '66, '67, actually in London
'cause then it was your Beatlemania bit and we
all ended up like a lot of rock & rollers
end up, living an hour away from London in the
country, the drivin'-in-from-the-big-estate bit.
'Cause you couldn't live in London, 'cause people
just bugged the ass off you. So I've lived in
New York longer than I actually lived in London."
"In view of the immigration case, is one
reason you've stayed here so long because if you
left, they'd pull a Charlie Chaplin on you and
not let you back in?"
"You bet. There's no way they would let me
back. And... it's worth it to me. I can last out,
without leaving here, another ten years, if that's
the way they want to play it. I'll earn enough
to keep paying them. I'm really getting blackmailed.
I'm paying to stay. Paying takes, on one hand,
about a half million dollars, and I've hardly
worked very hard for that. I mean, that's with
sittin' on me arse and I've paid a half million
in taxes. So I'm paying them to attack me and
keep me busy and harass me, on one hand, while
on the other hand I've got to pay me own lawyers.
Some people think I'm here just to make the American
dollars. But I don't have to be here to make the
dollars. I could earn American dollars just sittin'
in a recording studio in Hong Kong. Wherever I
am, the money follows me. It's gonna come out
of America whether they like it or not."
"Right. And the government doesn't choose
that John Lennon makes money. The people who buy
your music do that."
"The implication that John Lennon wants to
come to the land of milk and honey 'cause it's
easier to pick up the money, so I can pick it
up directly instead of waiting for it to arrive
in England. Or Brazil. Or wherever I decide to
do it. I resent the implication, especially as
I'm payin' through the nose. I don't mind paying
taxes, either, which is strange. I never did.
I don't like 'em using it for bombs and that.
But I don't think I could do a Joan Baez. I don't
have that kind of gut. I did never complain in
England either, because, well, it's buying people
teeth... I'm sick of gettin' sick about taxes.
Taxes is what seems to be it, and there's nothin'
to be done about it unless you choose to make
a crusade about it. And I'm sick of being in crusades
because I always get nailed up before I'm even
in the crusade. They get me in the queue while
I'm readin' the pages about it: 'Oh, there's a
crusade on, I wonder should I...' I mean, I get
caught before I've ever done anything about it."
"You went through a period of really heavy
involvement in radical causes. Lately you seem
to have gone back to your art in a more direct
way. What happened?"
"I'll tell you what happened literally. I
got off the boat, only it was an airplane, and
landed in New York, and the first people who got
in touch with me was Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman.
It's as simple as that. It's those two famous
guys from America who's callin': 'Hey, yeah, what's
happenin', what's goin' on?' And the next thing
you know, I'm doin' John Sinclair benefits and
one thing and another. I'm pretty movable, as
an artist, you know. They almost greeted me off
the plane and the next minute I'm involved, you
"How did all of this affect your work?"
"It almost ruined it, in a way. It became
journalism and not poetry. And I basically feel
that I'm a poet. Even if it does go ba-deeble,
eedle, eedle, it, da-deedle, deedle, it. I'm not
a formalized poet, I have no education, so I have
to write in the simplest forms usually. And I
realized that over a period of time - and not
just 'cause I met Jerry Rubin off the plane -
but that was like a culmination. I realized that
we were poets but we were really folk poets, and
rock & roll was folk poetry - I've always
felt that. Rock & roll was folk music. Then
I began to take it seriously on another level,
saying, "Well, I am reflecting what is going
on, right?" And then I was making an effort
to reflect what was going on. Well, it doesn't
work like that. It doesn't work as pop music or
what I want to do. It just doesn't make sense.
You get into that bit where you can't talk about
trees, 'cause, y'know, y'gotta talk about 'Corruption
on Fifty-fourth Street'! It's nothing to do with
that. It's a bit larger than that. It's the usual
lesson that I've learned in me little thirty-four
years: As soon as you've clutched onto something,
you think - you're always clutchin' at straws
- this is what life is all about. I think artists
are lucky because the straws are always blowin'
out of their hands. But the unfortunate thing
is that most people find the straw hat and hang
on to it, like your best friend that got the job
at the bank when he was fifteen and looked twenty-eight
before he was twenty. 'Oh, this is it! Now I know
what I'm doing! Right? Down this road for the
next hundred years...' and it ain't never that.
Whether it's a religious hat or a political hat
or a no-political hat: whatever hat is was, always
looking for these straw hats. I think I found
out it's a waste of time. There is no hat to wear.
Just keep moving around and changing clothes is
the best. That's all that goes on: change."
one time I thought, well, I'm avoidin' that thing
called the Age Thing, whether it hits you at twenty-one,
when you take your first job - I always keep referrin'
to that because it has nothing to do, virtually,
with your physical age. I mean, we all know the
guys who took the jobs when we left school, the
straight jobs, they all look like old guys within
six weeks. You'd meet them and they'd be lookin'
like Well, I've Settled Down Now. So I never want
to settle down, in that respect. I always want
to be immature in that respect. But then I felt
that if I keep bangin' my head on the wall it'll
stop me from gettin' that kind of age in the head.
By keeping creating, consciously or unconsciously,
extraordinary situations which in the end you'd
write about. But maybe it has nothin' to do with
it. I'm still mullin' that over. Still mullin'
over last year now. Maybe that was it. I was still
trying to avoid somethin' but doin' it the wrong
way 'round. Whether it's called age or whatever."
"Is it called growing up?"
"I don't want to grow up but I'm sick of
not growing up - that way. I'll find a different
way of not growing up. There's a better way of
doing it than torturing your body. And then your
mind. The guilt! It's just so dumb. And it makes
me furious to be dumb because I don't like dumb
people. And there I am, doing the dumbest things...
I seem to do the things that I despise the most,
almost. All of that to - what? - avoid being normal.
I have this great fear of this normal thing. You
know, the ones that passed their exams, the ones
that went to their jobs, the ones that didn't
become rock & rollers, the ones that settle
for it, settled for it, settled for the deal!
That's what I'm trying to avoid. But I'm sick
of avoiding it with violence, you know? I've gotta
do it some other way. I think I will. I think
just the fact that I've realized it is a good
step forward. Alive in '75 is my new motto. I've
just made it up. That's the one. I've decided
I want to live. I'd decided I wanted to live before,
but I didn't know what it meant, really. It's
taken however many years and I want to have a
go at it."
"Do you think much of yourself as an artist
at fifty or sixty?"
"I never see meself as not an artist. I never
let meself believe that an artist can run dry.
I've always had this vision of bein' sixty and
writing children's books. I don't know why. It'd
be a strange thing for a person who doesn't really
have much to do with children. I've always had
that feeling of giving what Wind in the Willows
and Alice in Wonderland and Treasure Island gave
to me at age seven and eight. The books that really
opened my whole being."
"Is there anything left to say about the
"People get bored with hearin' about Lennon's
immigration case. I'm bored with hearin' about
it. The only interesting thing is when I read
these articles people write that were not instigated
by me. I learn things I didn't know anything about.
I didn't know about Strom Thurmond. I had no idea
- I mean I knew something was going on, but I
didn't have any names. I'm just left in the position
of just what am I supposed to do? There doesn't
seem to be anything I can do about it. It's just...
bloody crazy. Terry Southern put it in a nice
sort of way. He said, 'Well, look, y'keep 'em
all happy, ya see? The conservatives are happy
'cause they're doin' somethin' about ya and the
liberals are happy 'cause they haven't thrown
you out. So everybody's happy! (pause) Except
you!' (laughter) I'm happy I'm still here. I must
say that. And I ain't going. There's no way they're
gonna get me out. No way. They're not gonna drag
me in chains, right? So I'm just gonna have to
keep paying. It's bloody ridiculous. It's just...
"So nothing has changed with the departure
"I'm even nervous about commenting on politics.
They've got me that jumpy these days. But it's
a bit of an illusion to think 'cause Old Nick
went that it's all changed. If it's changed, prove
it, show me the change."
"Does the case get in the way of your work?"
"It did. It did. There's no denying it. In
'72, it was really gettin' to me. Not only was
I physically having to appear in court cases,
it just seemed like a toothache that wouldn't
go away. Now I just accept it. I just have a permanent
toothache. But there was a period where I just
couldn't function, you know? I was so paranoid
from them tappin' the phone and followin' me.
How could I prove that they were tappin' me phone?
There was a period when I was hangin' out with
a group called Elephant's Memory. And I was ready
to go on the road for pure fun. I didn't want
to go on the road for money. That was the time
when I was standing up in the Apollo with a guitar
at the Attica relatives' benefit or ending up
on the stage at the John Sinclair rally. I felt
like going on the road and playing music. And
whatever excuse - charity or whatever - would
have done me. But they kept pullin' me back into
court! I had the group hangin' 'round, but I finally
had to say, 'Hey, you better get on with your
lives.' Now, the last thing on earth I want to
do is perform. That's a direct result of the immigration
thing. In '71, '72, I wanted to go out and rock
my balls off onstage and I just stopped."
"Have you made any kind of flat decision
not to ever go on the road again?"
"No. I've stopped making flat decisions.
I change me mind a lot. My idea of heaven is not
going on the road."
"Will you ever be free of the fact that you
were once a Beatle?"
"I've got used to the fact - just about -
that whatever I do is going to be compared to
the other Beatles. If I took up ballet dancing,
my ballet dancing would be compared with Paul's
bowling. So that I'll have to live with. But I've
come to learn something big this past year. I
cannot let the Top Ten dominate my art. If my
worth is only to be judged by whether I'm in the
Top Ten or not, then I'd better give up. Because
if I let the Top Ten dominate my art, then the
art will die. And then whether I'm in the Top
Ten is a moot point. I do think now in terms of
long term. I'm an artist. I have to express myself.
I can't be dominated by gold records. As I said,
I'm thirty-four going on sixty. The art is more
important than the thing and sometimes I have
to remind meself of it. Because there's a danger
there, for all of us, for everyone who's involved
in whatever art they're in, of needing that love
so badly that... In my business, that's manifested
in the Top Ten."
"So this last year, in some ways, was a year
of deciding whether you wanted to be an artist
or a pop star?"
"Yeah. What is it I'm doing. What am I doing?
Meanwhile, I was still putting out the work. But
in the back of me head it was that: What do you
want to be? What are you lookin' for? And that's
about it. I'm a freakin' artist, man, not a fuckin'
With John Lennon And Yoko Ono
by David Sheff
Rolling Stone Interview
With John Lennon
by Jonathan Cott
Rolling Stone Interview
With John Lennon
by Jonathan Cott
of the Decade'
Interview With John Lennon