I had the least trouble writing the songs of all time. So I could have gone on, it was like a Christmas card list: where do I end? It had just got out of hand, and Beatles was the final thing because I no longer believe in myth, and Beatles is another myth. It’s over, and we gotta — I have to personally — get down to so-called reality. I’ll be able to tell in a week or so what’s going on, because they [the radio] started off playing “Look At Me” because it was easy, and they probably thought it was the Beatles or something. Well, that’s the one; “God” and “Working Class Hero” probably are the best whatevers — sort of ideas or feelings — on the record. You see, I don’t believe in Dylan and I don’t believe in Tom Jones, either in that way. this is interesting: in the early days in England, all the groups were like Elvis and a backing group, and the Beatles deliberately didn’t move like Elvis. Usually Paul and I would be listening to it and we wouldn’t have to listen to each individual sound. I think it’s a good record, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear “Beaucoups of Blues,” that song you know. I was glad, and I didn’t feel as embarrassed as I did about his first record. When did you first feel that the Beatles had broken up? We always wrote separately, but we wrote together because we enjoyed it a lot sometimes, and also because they would say well, you’re going to make an album get together and knock off a few songs, just like a job. You see, everybody takes you up on the words you said, and I’m just a guy that people ask all about things, and I blab off and some of it makes sense and some of it is bullshit and some of it’s lies and some of it is — God knows what I’m saying. We were thinking of opening a chain of retail clothes shops or some balmy thing like that… I think some of his stuff actually has come true, but they just haven’t been manufactured — maybe one of them is a salable object. Paul had done it for six months, and then I walked in and changed everything. I wanted a real book to come out, but we all had wives and didn’t want to hurt their feelings. Man, our tours were like something else, if you could get on our tours, you were in. I thought well, John is an artist, and probably he had two or three affairs before getting married. He ended up the kind of guy that you dread when he would come on the phone, because you knew it was trouble. In the early days, he was all right, because he was young and confident. I would like to just list what we did and what the Stones did two months after on every fuckin’ album. They’ve been trying to knock us down since we began, specially the British press, always saying, “What are you going to do when the bubble bursts? We’d go when we decided, not when some fickle public decided, because we were not a manufactured group. Of course, we’ve made many mistakes, but we knew instinctively that it would end when we decided, and not when NBC or ATV decides to take off our series, or anything like that. Yeah, but there are two ways of thinking: they are out to get us or it just happened that way. He talked like crackers and then he said he would put us back into our past life.
When did you become aware that that song would be the one that is played the most? Why did you choose or refer to Zimmerman, not Dylan? That was our policy because we found it stupid and bullshit. Janov, say if John fell in love, you know he is always falling in love with all sorts of things, from the Marharashi to all what not. We got such a hard time from everyone, and I’ve had so much thrown at me, and at Yoko, especially at Yoko. Phil is, as you know, well known about as a very skillful sort of technician with electronics and engineering. So there are a few things I learned this time, about bass, one track or another, where you can get more in and where I lost something on a track and some technical things that irritated me finally. It’s hard when you ask me, it’s like asking me what do I think of… But what is leading us, when we went round in circles? I don’t know what I said about Maharishi, all I know is what we said about Apple, which was worse. and we were all thinking that if we are going to have to open a shop, let’s open something we’re interested in, and we went through all these different ideas about this, that and the other. He was just another guy who comes and goes around people like us. There were all the Peter Browns reporting behind my back to Paul, saying, “You know, John’s doing this and John’s doing that, that John, he’s crazy,” I was always the one that must be crazy, because I wouldn’t let them have status quo. He was one of them guys that disintegrated in front of you. Every fuckin’ thing we did, Mick does exactly the same — he imitates us. I don’t remember the reviews at all, I never read them. There were very few things that happened to the Beatles that weren’t really well-thought out by us — whether to do it or not, and what the reaction would be and would it last forever. After I started Two Virgins and doing those kind of things, it seemed like I was fair game for the police. There is no reason on earth why I should be without her. We were game for anything then, it’s like going to a fortune teller — so we said all right, do it.
Then Mick Jagger came out and resurrected “bullshit movement,” wiggling your arse. [John and Yoko went through four months of intensive therapy with Dr. Like Peter Brown in our office — and you can put this in — after we come in after six months he comes down and shakes my hand and doesn’t even say hello to her. And we get into so much pain that we have to do something about it. We took “H” because of what the Beatles and others were doing to us. Lennon: But let’s not take away from what he did do, which expended a lot of energy and taught me a lot, and I would use him again. But as a concept and as a whole thing, I’m pleased, yes. If I get down to the nitty gritty, it would drive me mad, but I do like it really. Most takes are right off and most times I sang it and played it at the same time. ask me about other people, because it looks so awful when I say I don’t like this and I don’t like that. I can’t speak for George, but I pretty damn well know we got fed up of being side-men for Paul. Paul had a nice idea about opening up white houses, where we would sell white china, and things like that, everything white, because you can never get anything white, you know, which was pretty groovy, and it didn’t end up with that, it ended up with Apple and all this junk and The Fool and all those stupid clothes and all that. Well, Yoko and I together, we came up with the idea to give it all away, and stop fuckin’ about with a psychedelic clothes shop, so we gave it all away. He wasn’t sort of brilliant or anything, he was just a nice guy. And I would like one of you fuckin’ underground people to point it out, you know “Satanic Majesties” is Pepper, “We Love You,” it’s the most fuckin’ bullshit, that’s “All You Need Is Love.” I resent the implication that the Stones are like revolutionaries and that the Beatles weren’t. In those days reviews weren’t very important, because we had it made whatever happened. There was some myth about us being protected because we had an MBE. There is nothing more important than our relationship, nothing. He was mumbling, pretending to hypnotize us; we’re lying there, and he’s making up all of these Walt Disney stories about past lives, which we didn’t believe. I was more into it then than Yoko; she’s not quite as silly as I am.
So then people began to say the Beatles were passé because they don’t move. When we were younger, we used to move, we used to jump around and do all the things they’re doing now, like going on stage with toilet seats and shitting and pissing. Ono: You know, I think John, being John, is a bit unfair to his music in a way. Arthur Janov, author of ‘The Primal Scream’ (Putnam’s), in Los Angeles, June through September of this year. When you record, do you go for feeling or perfection of the sound? I can’t stand putting the backing on first, then the singing, which is what we used to do in the old days, but those days are dead, you know. Well, I was watching TV as usual, in California, and there was this old horror movie on, and the bells sounded like that to me. It’s just that I don’t like many of the Beatles records either. After Brian died, that’s what happened, that’s what began to happen to us. If the Stones were or are, the Beatles really were too. I don’t think that it was true, it was just that we never did anything. I never got attacked for it, I don’t know whether that was protection, because it was openly admitting that we had drugs. We dig being together all the time, and both of us could survive apart, but what for? But I was thinking, “You never know, do you” — I had this thing: believe everything until it is disproved — it came from giving up ciggies and he was going on about how he had been on a space ship, so I said, come on, tell us more, I was suspicious, but I wouldn’t stop the stories coming out. Because the best stuff is primitive enough and has no bullshit.
They were the ones I really wrote from experience and not projecting myself into a situation and writing a nice story about it. ” “I don’t believe in magic,” that series of statements. I didn’t sit down to think, “I’m going to write about Mother” or I didn’t sit down to think “I’m going to write about this, that or the other.” They all came out, like all the best work that anybody ever does. The Beatles broke up after Brian died; we made the double album, the set. We had just gone down after seeing his lecture first night. I don’t know whether you’ve had it, but I’ve had a lot of people die around me and the other feeling is, “What the fuck? I thought, “We’ve fuckin’ had it.” What were the events that sort of immediately happened after Brian died? I remember being in Wales and then, I can’t remember though. Then George and I were sort of grumbling about the fuckin’ movie and we thought we better do it and we had the feeling that we owed it to the public to do these things. So we went to see Maharishi, the whole gang of us, the next day, charged down to his hut, his bungalow, his very rich-looking bungalow in the mountains, and as usual, when the dirty work came, I was the spokesman — whenever the dirty work came, I actually had to be leader, wherever the scene was, when it came to the nitty gritty, I had to do the speaking — and I said “We’re leaving.” “Why? So, like anybody when you say divorce, their face goes all sorts of colors. So he rang me up that day and said I’m doing what you and Yoko are doing, I’m putting out an album, and I’m leaving the group too, he said. I was feeling a little strange, because he was saying it this time, although it was a year later, and I said “good,” because he was the one that wanted the Beatles most, and then the midnight papers came out. It was of us in that situation together, in a hotel, having to perform before people. There is no great mysterious meaning behind all of this, it was just four boys working out what to call a new album. Fuckin’ big bastards, that’s what the Beatles were. All the handouts, the bribery, the police, all the fucking hype.
They were the ones I always considered my best songs. “What, he’s dead,” and all that, and he was sort of saying oh, forget it, be happy, like an idiot, like parents, smile, that’s what the Maharishi said. There is a sort of little hysterical, sort of hee, hee, I’m glad it’s not me or something in it, the funny feeling when somebody close to you dies. I didn’t really have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music and I was scared. I don’t know how the others took it, it’s no good asking me… “Magical Mystery Tour” was something he had worked out with Mal and he showed me what his idea was and this is how it went, it went around like this, the story and how he had it all… Paul said, “Well, here’s the segment, you write a little piece for that,” and I thought bloody hell, so I ran off and I wrote the dream sequence for the fat woman and all the thing with the spaghetti. I copped out and I wouldn’t write “Maharishi what have you done, you made a fool of everyone.” But, now it can be told, Fab Listeners. When George started thinking it might be true, I thought well, it must be true; because if George started thinking it might be true, there must be something in it. He said, “Oh, that means nothing really happened if you’re not going to say anything.” So that’s what happened. He called me in the afternoon of that day and said, “I’m doing what you and Yoko were doing last year.” I said good, you know, because that time last year they were all looking at Yoko and me as if we were strange trying to make our life together instead of being fab, fat myths. It was a good projection of one facade of us, which was on tour, once in London and once in Dublin. We were learning the technique on “Rubber Soul.” We were more precise about making the album, that’s all, and we took over the cover and everything. That was Paul’s title, it was like “Yer Blues,” I suppose, meaning English Soul, I suppose, just a pun. If somebody is going to manage me, I want to know them inside out. I hate the way Allen is attacked and Brian is made out to be an angel just because he’s dead. They took a lot of shit from us, because we were in such a shitty position. Those things are left out by Davies, about what bastards we were. We were the Caesars; who was going to knock us, when there were a million pounds to be made?
I don’t know about anything else, really, and the few true songs I ever wrote were like “Help” and “Strawberry Fields.” I can’t think of them all offhand. We were just outside a lecture hall with Maharishi and I don’t know… “What, he’s dead,” and all were, I suppose, and the Marharishi, we went in to him. The feeling that anybody has when somebody close to them dies. I know them pretty well, but I don’t know anybody that well. And I said, “well, give us a few days, and I’ll knock a few off,” or something like that. We went to see him, after we stayed up all night discussing was it true or not true. You said then that you were waiting to tag it to some event, then you realized that it was the event. You also said then that you had another thing you were going to do. I don’t know whether Paul said “Don’t tell anybody,” but he was darned pleased that I wasn’t going to. I think he claims that he didn’t mean that to happen but that’s bullshit. How did you feel when you found out that Dick James had sold his shares in your own company, Northern Songs? My impression of the movie was that it was you and it wasn’t anyone else. Can you tell me whether that white album with the drawing by Voorman on it, was that before “Rubber Soul” or after? We were just getting better, technically and musically, that’s all. In the early days, we had to take what we were given, we didn’t know how you can get more bass. That’s why underneath their facade, they resent us, but they can never show it, and they won’t believe it when they read it. The press around too, because they want the free drinks and the free whores and the fun; everybody wants to keep on the bandwagon.
But the poetry on this album is superior to anything I’ve done because it’s not self-conscious, in that way. I think the backings on mine are as complicated as the backings on any record you’ve ever heard, if you’ve got an ear. Any musician will tell you, just play a note on a piano, it’s got harmonics in it. I don’t know when I realized that I was putting down all these things I didn’t believe in. Lennon: Yes, I was going to leave a gap, and just fill in your own words: whoever you don’t believe in. I’m not just talking about the Beatles, I’m talking about the generation thing. like in India I wrote the last batch of best songs, like “I’m So Tired” and “Yer Blues.” They’re pretty realistic, they were about me. I know we developed our own style but we still in a way parodied American music … The “One After 909,” on the “Let It Be” LP, I wrote when I was 17 or 18. You came to New York and had that press conference. I’m probably doing it now, I don’t know what I say. Clive Epstein, or some other such business freak, came up to us and said you’ve got to spend so much money, or the tax will take you. I was controlling the scene at the time, I mean, I was the one going in the office and shouting about. There was nothing about orgies and the shit that happened on tour. The Beatles tours were like the Fellini film “Satyricon.” We had that image. They didn’t call them groupies then, they called it something else and if we couldn’t get groupies, we would have whores and everything, whatever was going. Derek and Neil, that was their job, and Mal, but I’m not going into all that. I don’t really want to talk about it, because it will hurt Yoko. Suffice to say, that they were “Satyricon” on tour and that’s it, because I don’t want to hurt their feelings, or the other people’s girls either. Ono: I was surprised, I really didn’t know things like that. It was really a good time, that was the best period, fame-wise. It was like a men’s smoking club, just a very good scene. Well, he was different over the years as he disintegrated. I enjoy it, I’ll probably go and see his films and all, like everybody else, but really, I think it’s a joke. I was always very respectful about Mick and the Stones, but he said a lot of sort of tarty things about the Beatles, which I am hurt by, because you know, I can knock the Beatles, but don’t let Mick Jagger knock them. I don’t even remember ever hearing about that review. So this big guy comes in who seemed to be primaling all the time — he was always crying a lot, and talking — and then he tried it and it didn’t work.
It wasn’t a thing that Pete Townshend worked out, it is something that you do when you play six or seven hours. Yes, there was a self-consciousness about singing blues. “Having a primal,” or “primaling,” is an extremely intense type of re-living/acting-out experience, around which many of Janov’s theories are based.] Nobody knows there is a point on the first song on Yoko’s track where the guitar comes in and even Yoko thought it was her voice, because we did all Yoko’s in one night, the whole session. Listen to it, and play “Tutti Fruitti.” Listen to “Don’t Worry, Kyoko” on the other side of “Cold Turkey.” I’m digressing from mine, but if somebody with a rock-oriented mind could possibly hear her stuff, you’ll see what she’s doing. It’s as important as anything we ever did, and it is as important as anything the Stones or Townshend ever did. You once said about “Cold Turkey”: “That’s not a song, that’s a diary.” So is this, you know. Janov showed me how to feel my own fear and pain, therefore I can handle it better than I could before, that’s all. It doesn’t just remain in me, it goes round and out. They just sounded like that and I thought oh, that’s how to start “Mother.” I knew “Mother” was going to be the first track so… “Look At Me” was written around the Beatles’ double album time, you know, I just never got it going, there are a few like that lying around. I haven’t gone off it, it is just that “Primal” is like another mirror, you know. I’m an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it. You said you played slide guitar on “Get Back.” Yes, I played the solo on that. When we went and saw “Let It Be” in San Francisco, what was your feeling? I never said anything, I always admired them, because I like their funky music and I like their style. Neither of us want to be, and you can’t fill the bed with groupies. Like I said in the song, I’ve been through it all, and nothing works better than to have somebody you love hold you. I made 20 or 30 movies, just 8mm stuff but still movies, and many, many hours of tape of different sounds, just not rocking. How are you going to keep from going overboard on things again? I’m just going to do what I want for meself and for both of us. Some people have got nothing better to do than study Bibles and make myths about it and study rocks and make stories about how people used to live. During that period, because we are what we are, it evolved that somehow we ended up being responsible to produce peace. Actually, we went there to talk to Kyoko, and it was really a case of “brothers” and all that. If we want real rock and roll, it’s up to all of us to create it and stop being hyped by the revolutionary image and long hair. It goes throughout the world and it’s as simple as that, you get the rhythm going because everybody goes into it.Mile High Youth Corps is committed to the inclusion of members with all levels of ability.Reasonable accommodations are available upon request. Our programs are available to all, without regard to race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, political affiliation, or, in most instances, religion. “I’m a Loser,” “Help,” “Strawberry Fields,” they are all personal records. I didn’t really enjoy writing third person songs about people who lived in concrete flats and things like that. But because of my hang-ups and many other things; I would only now and then specifically write about me. On this album, there is practically no imagery at all. I was consciously writing poetry, and that’s self-conscious poetry. I had a few ideas to do this with “Mother” and that with “Mother” but when you just hear, the piano does it all for you, your mind can do the rest. It was just going on in my head and I got by the first three or four, the rest just came out. When did you know that you were going to be working towards “I don’t believe in Beatles”? Ono: He was going to have a do it yourself type of thing. If you are on holiday or in therapy, wherever you are, if you do spend time… I was right in the Maharishi’s camp writing “I wanna die…” “Yer Blues,” was that also deliberately meant to be a parody of the English blues scene? I’m a bit self-conscious — we all were a bit self-conscious and the Beatles were super self-conscious people about parody of Americans which we do and have done. It’s like I told you many times, it was just me and a backing group, Paul and a backing group, and I enjoyed it. If you give me the albums I can tell you exactly who wrote what, and which line. All our best work — apart from the early days, like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” we wrote together and things like that — we wrote apart always. And I said, “You know why,” and he said, “I don’t know why, you must tell me,” and I just kept saying “You ought to know” and he gave me a look like, “I’ll kill you, you bastard,” and he gave me such a look. I had called his bluff and I was a bit rough to him. That’s what it is, you know, or some parent, I know that much. But at the same time you disassociated yourselves from the Maharishi. You know, we all say a lot of things when we don’t know what we’re talking about. We made everything into events from then on and got rid of it. I was a fool not to do it, not to do what Paul did, which was use it to sell a record. It was written in [London] Sunday Times sort of fab form. My auntie knocked out all the truth bits from my childhood and my mother and I allowed it, which was my cop-out, etcetera. Wherever we went, there was always a whole scene going, we had our four separate bedrooms. Derek’s and Neil’s rooms were always full of junk and whores and who-the-fuck-knows-what, and policemen with it. I used to be up all night with Derek, whether there was anybody there or not, I could never sleep, such a heavy scene it was. The police escorted me to the places, because they never wanted a big scandal, you see. At one point it said you and Brian Epstein went off to Spain. I don’t know how close the others were but I spent a lot of time with Brian and Mick. I dug them the first time I saw them in whatever that place is they came from, Richmond. We all used to just go around London in cars and meet each other and talk about music with the Animals and Eric and all that. I like “Honky Tonk Woman” but I think Mick’s a joke, with all that fag dancing, I always did. We saw a bit of each other around when Allen was first coming in — I think Mick got jealous. Hamrick was brought over by Tony, because he said this was a great doctor — he hadn’t mentioned the flying saucers until he was on his way — and he was going to hypnotize us so we would stop smoking. Lennon: We thought “great.” Tony said it really worked, because it worked on him and it was easy.
I think it’s realistic and it’s true to the me that has been developing over the years from my life. I always found that phony, but I’d find occasion to do it because I’d be so hung up, I couldn’t even think about myself. There are no “newspaper taxis.” Actually, that’s Paul’s line. There’s a great one in England now, “I Hear You Knocking.” I liked the “Spirit in the Sky” a few months back. I was influenced by acid and got psychedelic, like the whole generation, but really, I like rock and roll and I express myself best in rock. Well, like a lot of the words, it just came out of me mouth. I had the idea that “God is the concept by which we measure pain,” so that when you have a word like that, you just sit down and sing the first tune that comes into your head and the tune is simple, because I like that kind of music and then I just rolled into it. Why did you tag that cut at the end with “Mummy’s Dead”? Whether it is an article or what, it’s just the best ones that come out, and all these came out, because I had time. — that I was writing them supposedly in the presence of guru and meditating so many hours a day, writing “I’m So Tired” and songs of such pain as “Yer Blues” which I meant. It’s like if you took each track off it and made it all mine and all George’s. We heard it then, and then we went right off into the Maharishi thing. I will probably have to have a bloody primal to remember this. When did your songwriting partnership with Paul end? I don’t know, around 1962, or something, I don’t know. I lost me nerve because I was going to take me ex-wife and Yoko, but I don’t know how to work it. ” he asked, and all that shit and I said, “Well, if you’re so cosmic, you’ll know why.” He was always intimating, and there were all these right-hand men always intimating, that he did miracles. I was always expecting my mother and never got her. It’s like he knew really that this was the final thing; and six months later he comes out with whatever. Well, when he came out with this “I’m leaving.” No, I wasn’t angry — shit, he’s a good P. The Hunter Davies book, the “authorized biography,” says… What do you do when the pill doesn’t wear off and it’s time to go? There’s photographs of me crawling about in Amsterdam on my knees coming out of whore houses and things like that. Let me ask you about something else that was in the Hunter Davies book. You have to be a bastard to make it, that’s a fact, and the Beatles are the biggest bastards on earth. Everybody wanted in, that’s why some of them are still trying to cling on to this: Don’t take Rome from us, not a portable Rome where we can all have our houses and our cars and our lovers and our wives and office girls and parties and drink and drugs, don’t take it from us, otherwise you’re mad, John, you’re crazy, silly John wants to take this all away. When we came down, we were treated like real provincials by the Londoners. What was it like, say, running around London, in the discotheques, with the Stones, and everything? We were like kings of the jungle then, and we were very close to the Stones.There is nothing else to do: you smash the place up, and you insult everybody. We were all listening to Sleepy John Estes and all that in art school, like everybody else. Except for the track with Ornette Coleman from the past that we put on to show people that she wasn’t discovered by the Beatles and that she’s been around a few years. we are going to put out “Oldies But Goldies” next for Yoko. Ono: There is this thing that he just goes on falling in love with all sorts of things. Listen to “Cold Turkey.” Ono: He’s screaming there already. Listen to it, and you’ll hear what she is putting down. I’m influenced by her music 1000 percent more than I ever was by anybody or anything. And when the musicians play with her, they’re inspired out of their skulls. I announced “Cold Turkey” at the Lyceum saying, “I’m going to sing a song about pain.” So pain and screaming was before Janov. I went through therapy with him like I told you and I’m probably looser all over. You said that you wrote most of the songs in California? Actually I wrote “Mother” in England, “Isolation” in England and a few more. You said that this would be the first “Primal Album.” When did I say that? Ono: He is sort of like any artist, because he really wants to be honest to himself and to the album, I suppose. The Primal Scream is a mirror and he was looking at the mirror. You say you can make the guitar speak; what songs have you done that on? You see, a lot of you people want technical things; it’s like wanting technical films. When Paul was feeling kindly, he would give me a solo! I like rock and roll and the direction they took after they got over trying to imitate us, you know, but he’s even going to do Apple now. He’s obviously so upset by how big the Beatles are compared with him; he never got over it. What did you think of that review in the New York Times of “Sgt. You said at one point, you have to write songs that can justify your existence. I write songs because that’s the thing I chose to do. Sometimes I felt as though you worked to justify your existence, but you don’t; you work to exist, and vice versa, and that’s it, really. You say on your record that “The freaks on the phone won’t leave me alone, so don’t give me that brother, brother.” Because I’m sick of all these aggressive hippies or whatever they are, the “Now Generation,” being very up-tight with me. I read that Eldridge Cleaver said that Blacks gave the middle class whites back their bodies, and put their minds and bodies together. It gets through; it got through to me, the only thing to get through to me of all the things that were happening when I was 15.