Friday, 22 October 2010

Show 7 - March 7th 1988

Show 7 is, as ever, an interesting mix of music and episodes from the career of John Lennon.

Elliot Mintz sets the scene for the first part of the show today - the political side of Lennon that was heavily on display when he first entered the USA on a 6 month non-renewable visa in the fall of 1971. Based in the St. Regis hotel in New York, Lennon became immersed in political and social causes.

As Power To The People plays, Mintz describes how the songs written in this period would end up on 1972's Sometime In New York City LP, reflecting the Lennons' concerns on racism, sexism, criminal penalties for possession of drugs, the rights of prisoners, and the Northern Ireland situation. Two of those songs - Sunday Bloody Sunday (not the U2 version), and The Luck Of The Irish were written about the latter. Takes 1 and 2 of the demo of TLOTI, from the Dakota archives, are played. The recording was made on 12th November 1971, and recorded in the studio in March 1972.

The second part of show 7 considers perhaps the most controversial incident of The Beatles career - Lennon's 'more popular than Jesus' comment. Mintz states how the original interview with this quote was published on 4th March 1966 in the London Standard. Maureen Cleave was the journalist involved.  It has been well-documented how the statement was not picked up on until the interview was reprinted in an American publication - Datebook - in July of that year.

This was two weeks before The Beatles commenced their third US tour, and it created bedlam even before they arrived. A 'Beatles Boycott' originated in Birmingham, Alabama. Led by two local DJs, it culminated with a 'Beatle bonfire' on 19th August. The Beatles arrived in Chicago 11th August, and by this time the protests against Lennon and The Beatles had spread across the country, mainly in the southern states.

Mintz airs a rare Brian Epstein interview from March 1967, with Murray the K. In the clip we hear the pair recalling the previous year's controversy. Mintz then describes how Maureen Cleave was astonished at how the quote had been taken out of context.

The next 10 minute segment is devoted entirely to a clip of the Chicago press conference that the group gave to the gathered press for the 1966 tour. It revolves, unsurprisingly, around Lennon being quizzed on what he meant by his 'bigger than Jesus' remark, as well as the repercussions unfolding. A quick clip from the Sheff 1980 interview finds Lennon discussing the remark.

From 1966 we jump forwards to 1980. During the Double Fantasy period, Lennon planned to mark his affection and respect for Yoko and her work as an artist by creating an album of other artists covering her songs.  It was to be a unique present for her 50th birthday on 18th February 1983. It was known at the time as The Birthday Album.

Deciding to complete the project in her husband's absence, it was released in 1984 as Every Man Has A Woman Who Loves Him. As well as Lennon opening the album with the title track, it also featured Elvis Costello, Roberta Flack, and Harry Nilsson. A real gem airs next - the title track in its unreleased form from 1980, featuring both Lennons on vocals.
Yoko describes how the pair were planning a musical titled The Ballad Of John and Yoko, and that the line from EMHAW 'Why do I roam when I know you're one' was inspired by Yoko being apart from Lennon in Paris in 68 (Lennon was in India).

I'm Moving On, on the 1984 album, was covered by Eddie Money, and a clip of the song follows Yoko describing how Money came to be involved.

The finale of today's show returns to the EMHAW project, but first it jumps back to 1966, and to the track Lennon wrote for Revolver - She Said She Said. Mintz mentions how drug use was influencing Lennon's songwriting at this period. Lennon, in the Sheff interview, describes the song's origin while on a break in Hollywood in August 1965.  The actor Peter Fonda, then relatively unknown, was with the band while on acid. Lennon recollects how he kept whispering 'I know what it's like to be dead' in his ear.  Two demos of the track now air. The first, from lennon's archives, is a real gem - an early version featuring Lennon on guitar. The second version is a near complete song, with Lennon singing the line 'making me feel like my trousers are torn.'  Finally, the recorded version is played, completing this mini look at its evolution.

Returning to Yoko discussing the EMHAW release, she describes how Harry Nilsson came to record three of the twelve tracks. One of these, Dream Love, is played.

The final album track features a seven year old Sean Lennon loosely rapping It's Alright, and it is played. To conclude Show 7 the audience is treated to the original raw demo of Grow Old With Me, followed briefly by Yoko touchingly describing how she still feels her husband's spirit around. 


It is always nice after so many years of being a fan to hear something fresh. Although the quality was not crystal clear, it was interesting to hear a perspective from Lennon, at the Chicago press conference, about the 1966 controversy that has not, to my knowledge, been used in any official documentaries.

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