Watching it again, thought I lost it, but realized it may be on my disposed laptop, the one that got in the water floating for a freak reason.
It’s just striking – the relationship between John and Yoko. That I would say is the ultimate complementation, or mutual influence. It’s difficult to see relationship develop that way. It was not a perfect one but a real one. The ups and downs were offset by the love between them. But they had to put stake into it. Each moving along with the other. When Yoko met John and fell in love in the process, no matter what the circumstances of the guy was, they went for it. Yoko was at that time also breaking away from her last relationship with Tony Cox.
John was artist-politician who never realized his latter character until Yoko came. Yoko was not a politician but an avant garde artist who was introduced to politics because of John. The influence is mutual as both became artist-politicians and social commentarists at the same time because of each other.
One of the songs they wrote together, and John was very proud to say this, was Woman Is The Nigger of the World, which generated a lot of controversies because of the N word; but most of the whose who were put down by it were white males. John would read in the Dick Cavett Show one piece from an Afro-American personality defining it more clearly and absolving John and Yoko in the process.
The immigration issue of course was a central plot in this film; the first five years of John & Yoko was hounded by deportation were it not for the skilled lawyering and good connections of their attorney Leon Wildes. It was based on the fear John Lennon may attract millions of anti-Nixon first-time voters had he committed to a U.S. tour with some of the radicals of the day in the States.
One of the authorities on John’s case who came up with two books about John & Yoko’s fight for immigrant status in the U.S., Jon Wiener, figured particularly well in the beginning of the film. As did Gerardo Rivera who helped put up the One-To-One Benefit Concert of the couple in Madison Square Garden for the mentally retarded children. It was Yoko’s idea according to him.
More personalities. New York-based Bob Gruen, remember him? One of the favorite photographers of John & Yoko who had full access to them in the early 1970s and the year John Lennon died, 1980. He came up with one book of annotated photos of John & Yoko, mostly John’s, spilling out in the process the kind of professional and personal relationship that developed between them during that time.
The secret according to his book if I remember right? Keep the photos to yourself and not spread them around the media for some bucks. And, just don’t come barging in unannounced. Let them call you. It may take some time – five years as in his case but that earned him their respect, which was worth more than anything.
Now i want to watch the one-to-one benefit concert. Now I want to re-read Jon Weiner’s books. Now I want to see again Bob Gruen’s book. This is what I feel whenever I watch a film on The Beatles with familiar guideposts of sort. Jon’s books by the way are one of a kind. It is one of the few materials on John, the political. His sequel was released at the time FBI already lifted a significant percentage of John’s files with the FBI or some 15 years later after John’s death.
Anyway, back to the film, critics gave the concert basically harsh reviews, following the harsh reviews John received for his album Sometime In New York City, which put him down. So the brewing idea for a national tour with the Elephant’s Memory Band was dropped.
Then Nixon won. That night at Jerry Rubin’s house. It was downhill for John from then on. In Mind Games, John had this song Aisumasen (I’m Sorry), which was used as the background song for that portion of the film. Yoko smiled in the photos taken but wouldn’t be uplifted in any way. The Long Weekend in many ways came as a result of it.
“She was still dealing with him but it was not OK,” Bob Gruen who took the photographs when John & Yoko came out of the recording studio the following day to walk on the docks, recounted.Both photos are screenshots.
Now, the Lost Weekend. May Pang comes into the picture accounting for how she ended up with John in Los Angeles during those 18 months of combined wild life and solitude.
“John was honest.His lyrics were also bluntly honest. Everything was right up front with him. There’s no fixing his words, or being diplomatic, or beating around the bush. And his songs were just like that, too. He came out and just said it,” Andy Newmark, one of the session drummers John had recorded with, offered. Added Klaus Voorman, from the Hamburg ‘exis’ days, a great painter himself who turned to the bass guitar for a living: The words he chooses are for everybody. John talks of his problems, of the fight he has with himself. And, that’s what make his songs so strong that people can relate to.”
John’s stay in LA was like freedom for him at the start. He wrote and produced Mind Games there, but was too lonely and got tired of putting his feelings in his songs. So he came up with the idea of paying tribute to the old great rock classics, which The Beatles used to jam with in between takes during sessions. That period is hard to watch because that was his descent to alcoholism downing a bottle of a hard drink a day and going out of his head every time. Jack Douglas’s account of John coming towards a crowd and made a fool of himself. Jim Keltner’s own account of that night, how John was so strong, so defiant and yet shouting Yoko’s name, huh, was simply contagious. One who’s watching feels the pain he felt at that time, either from a distance as a fan, or association with the experience. Both Jack and Jim also felt uneasy talking about it; they just had to to show a better of John in those days.
“The worst was to be separated from Yoko and realizing that I really really need to be with her and could not literally survive without her,” admitted John.
Bob Gruen: John wasn’t with Yoko, and yet he was still with Yoko. They still had relationship; they still talked all the time. He was actually in touch with Yoko everyday, several times a day on the phone with her.
“Yoko was pretty sober at that time and John was very drunk and very depressed,” added Bob Gruen. Yoko was practically doing good, making records and arts with some support from the likes of Andy Warhol. And, if rumors had it right, this was the time she had a relationship with Hillary Clinton as what appeared in some online newspaper in the middle of last year during the primaries in the U.S.
President Nixon resigned. John got up one day and realized what he was doing with his life and decided to come back to New York and do another album. This time it’s Walls and Bridges. Elton John would grace the Record Plant and record Whatever Gets You Through The Night with John.
Elton was in some months ahead would be playing in the Madison Square Garden and invited John to join him. I would do that if this record gets to No. 1 John flippantly said. And the single got to No. 1.
Recalling that night, the moment John appeared onstage, Elton said he never felt that warm reception for John. For 10 minutes according to him, New York (that is MSG) stopped and applauded John. John felt the same way. He always thought he was a has-been and no one would dare invite him after all the bad publication he got over the recent years. But it was different and all his insecurities for a second left him and he played well. Then there was Yoko and both were reunited after that.
Starting Over after a five-year hiatus was a great experience for all those involved in the last record of John & Yoko. It was preceded by his househusbandry and some friends who had seen them, especially John and Sean, during that period would attest to the fact that he was in domestic bliss. John, according to Yoko, felt bad when some press would feature him in some paper as doing what he was doing for a press release.
John felt good when the record finally came out and Yoko was receiving good reviews as Bob Gruen put it. John’s music was rated middle-of-the-road and he did not mind it.
Jack Douglas on Double Fantasy: It’s totally a statement of where John was.
John Lennon on Double fantasy: I’m actually singing for the people I grew up with. How are you now? How’s your relationship going? Did you get through it all?
Their best photo together
Yoko Ono: He was an artist. Why would you want to kill an artist?
There is just no answer to that question. But if there’s any consolation, with John’s death and Yoko’s manifest resilience, the world, the Beatles’s world, has grown to accept and love Yoko. But Yoko mentioned at one time that she would have preferred to be vilified if that would only keep John alive
This is one of the most recent films on John Lennon. At first, I never thought it would be any better having seen many documentary film on the guy. But this is the official one. It’s not only his politics, his downturns, his highs and lows in the U.S. it is about last fourth of the life of a man considered one of the most influential people of the 2oth century. Not so bad that his early connections with New York in Greenwich was given a lot of emphasis, because that was not the focus. Probably someday, one surviving witness would come out with a material relative to that.
But this film, just like Eight Days A Week, that was shown later of last year, was not meant to offer something explosively new, simply because there was nothing of that kind. It is meant to give a better, more cohesive, if not comprehensive, account of John’s life in NYC in the last 10 years of his life. Some who know better may not be satisfied by it; but it is not intended for them. It is for those who knew John and want to know him better, those who love his music and want to know him further, and for the uninitiated to spread his legacy.