Sunday, November 27, 2016

I know the English love me--and I love them.

I found this interview from Disc magazine in the Aug/Sept 1975 issue of The Write Thing.  Unfortunately they had to edit the interview down to fit into the fanzine.  

The following interview is from Disc-  May 31, and June 14, 1975.  These are the highlights.

Disc:  “Walls and Bridges” was considered by  many to be the best album you ever made.  Is it as personal an album as it sounds?

John:  All my stuff’s personal, it always has been to a great extent even since early Beatle days, I mean I think “Help” was personal.  “In my Life” was personal, and “Strawberry Fields” was personal, even though it became the psychedelic anthem, it really was a personal song.  Maybe the lyrics got more refined as I became older and got to the point quicker, but they are all personal.  We’re all sheep, you know, the artists and the critics alike really.  Ever since I went to Janov’s therapy “personal” took a new meaning.  You know, on the so called Janov album I’d written a couple of tracks before I even went to Janov.  They were personal, but they just somehow fitted in to that category.  So I’ve always  been a personal writer, like a reporter.

Disc:  Do you think “Walls and Bridges” is a bitter album?

John:  If it is, it is.  I don’t know.  To me ’74 was hell and I am glad to be alive and out of it.  A lot of my friends thought it was hell too actually, but just personally speaking it was a rough year and there’s no way I can’t let it show in my work – even if I was trying to write a third person “Tommy” or write about somebody else or pretend I’m writing about somebody else, there’s no way it doesn’t show through.  So maybe it was bitter.  Some of it was just vaguely sad.  But there’s not many emotions around.  There is up and down, right?  In between is a bit boring.

Disc:  Are you tempted to do the music of any of your contemporaries?

John:  I’ve often thought of it, like I’d often thought of doing the “Rock n Roll” album.  I’d often thought of doing old Beatle numbers again myself – I’ve thought about it many times in the last five years.  It all depends on how much time there is to do it.  I’d like to do a couple of Dylan’s and I’d like to do “Your Song” of Elton’s.  I love that song, whether I could do it or not is another point.  I’m not going to make a habit of doing other people’s songs!  Somebody reviewed “Rock n Roll” over here I think and said, “He’s doing it just for the money.”  I hope he reads Disc, because I get **** all from the album, I have to slip the producer some money, so I get least of all cash for that album.

Disc:  I know the Beatles’ legal problems have at last been settled.  Would you mind telling what difference that’s made?

John:  No, I don’t mind telling about it.  All that did in actuality was to make us get paid directly.  Because even with the individual albums we were doing the money was still going into a collective pot.  So that meant all the Beatles stuff—which still sells!—and all the new stuff was all going into one pot and then it had to be worked out to come out again.  The main thing of the settlement was to release the monies to ourselves.  It did not break all ties with each other, because it’s a bit more complicated than that.  We’re still pretty well tied up in many ways.

Disc:  Do you miss England?
John:  Yes, I do, but I’m not going to walk away from it (immigration struggle) now!  I’ve spent so much effort on it.  When I get the green card… I keep telling myself, Britain will still be there when it’s over but from time to time I get the idea that maybe it’ll float away!

Disc:  What will you do when and if you get that green card?

John:  I haven’t thought that far ahead.  I’m just getting the card.  If I ever did tour, I’d probably tour the world.  Touring at the moment isn’t my idea of fun but I’m always changing my mind so I can’t tell.   If I did I think I’d do it all over.  I just want to go back to Britain and see it and have a cup of tea, not to perform or anything, just to be there.  When people ask me about it, I tend to remember my childhood in Liverpool rather than the time I spent in London in the ‘60’s.  And because of that I may emotionally miss Liverpool, although it is 99 to 1 if I came to Britain I’d come to London.  I probably wouldn’t have the time to go to Liverpool. 

My idea of fun is to travel from London to New York, to Paris.  I may even go to Germany, I don’t know why but I just fancy going there.  I wanna go and see the places I didn’t see, like Munich and Berlin.  Even when we toured Europe, I didn’t see them.

Disc:  I’ve been told you have a beautiful apartment here.

John:  I guess it’s pretty good, yeah.  It’s in a building called the Dakota, and it’s really very European, in other words it’s very very old building.  It’s on the park and most of the rooms face the park.  So it’s good and it’s large enough to get a little lost in i.  If the “garden” which is Central Park, belongs to New York and there’s a doorman at the door to keep Jesus from Toronto coming in and asking me for the message and the answer, that suits me fine.  I get a lot of weirdos here.  I don’t know why, because most of my lyrics and sons are pretty straightforward.  They were more sort of mystic in the ‘60’s. But still somehow that word Beatle manifests some sort of mysticism in people’s head and I’m thinking ‘why are they calling?  What are they bothering me for?”  I just say I feel crap or I feel great in my songs, there’s no mysticism in it.

Disc:  Not so much was heard in England about the Janov thing.  Could you tell us a little about it?

John:  The Janov thing was just a new form of therapy.  I’m very English in that respect – think psychiatrists need to see psychiatrists.  They’re a lot of baloney psychiatrists, and I was never interested unil I read his original book ‘the Primal Scream” and my instincts told me there was something about it, that there is some kind of primal scream in all of us.  That’s how I got interested.
In a nutshell the only thing I can tell you that I learned was to cry.  That’s something you lose the art of because of the way one is brought up.  A lot of women already do that but men don’t have it:  they’re told not to.  It was good for me.  It didn’t help me not to.  It didn’t help me behave myself in ’74, but  I think if I hadn’t been there I might have even been in worse condition.  It took me a  little time to recover from the Janov experience which left me bitterer than when I went in, and that did shake me up for a couple of years.  In fact, I probably only just recovered from it this year.  It was a bit of a mind blower and it left me—well, I suppose faithless is the best way to put it.  I do have faith now, and have still gained something from the experience of going there.

John was then asked about Julian

John:  Well ,he was here—because I can’t leave the country, he has to come here and see me—and I was working, and I was worried that he might be a bit bored.  But he loved the studio, and he was always playing and banging round.  So I recorded him, or the engineer did, when he was banging on the drums and I was playing piano.  I thought he’d be thrilled by it, I kept saying “there’s a surprise on ‘Walls and Bridges’ when it comes out.”  And he called me:  he said, ‘Was that it?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, didn’t you like it?’  He said, “Is that on every record?”  Also I said “Yeah” thinking he’s love it and he said, “that’s terrible, we should have done it again!”  He takes it so seriously and it was only an ad-lib

He’s into guitar and piano and playing in this group.  He knew all the chords and all that.  I spent hours with him trying to work out the lick from “My Sweet Lord” and I couldn’t play the damn thing because I didn’t have anything to do with it.  It was George.  We had a terrible three hours with Julian furious at me because I didn’t know how to play it.

Disc:  About the other Beatles, have you seen or heard from the others recently?

John:  I spoke to Ringo on the phone before he left for England (in May), and then I spoke to him there.  The last one I saw was Paul on his way down to New Orleans.  Like I said before, I was supposed to go down to New Orleans to mess around with him, but I got back to Yoko instead and I was too busy going home to go to New Orleans.

The others are alright by me.  There’s nothing in the wind about working together but I’m game for anything, it’s just that I can’t get it together.  Yoko and I are together and we’re happier than ever before.  We were so wrapped up in each other that I just never made it to New Orleans.  Sorry Paul.


  1. It's a shame John was so public about where he lived. He should have never given his address out :(

  2. Thanks Sara. This was a really perceptive and prescient interview.


  3. it was common knowledge when John lived on Bank Street & then the Dakota and fans were always around but he seemed to be ok with it until the tragedy happened

  4. This is great, Sara. Obviously, your work is a lifeline for The John Lennon Series. I could not do my work without your info, links, blogs, photos and careful vetting. I can't thank you enough for being the researcher you are. Great work, as always. Jude

  5. The bit about him & Julian was rather funny! I can so imagine Julian being furious with his dad xD