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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in john lennon (5)


In Which John Lennon Is Split In Two

Was It Just a Dream?


One morning in August of 1973, Yoko Ono walked through her apartment in the Dakota into the office of the Lennons’ 22-year-old personal assistant, May Pang. Yoko closed the door and sat down. She lit a Kool. She told May that she and John weren’t getting along, which wasn’t a surprise to anyone who had been in the company of the Lennons during that time. She said she knew John would start seeing other women, and she was worried he would choose poorly, picking someone who would only use him. “You don’t have a boyfriend,” Yoko continued. May balked; she had no interest in John. He was her employer. He was married. “Don’t worry,” Yoko said, between puffs of her cigarette. “I’ll take care of everything.”

Shortly afterward, John pursued May and they began a sexual relationship, shacking up in May’s studio apartment on the East side after evenings spent recording and mixing the album Mind Games. Despite the new dimension to their relationship, May continued working for the Lennons, helping John finish the album and acting as a gofer for Yoko. John was still officially living with his wife at the Dakota and it was starting to cramp his style, so in October, he and May headed to Los Angeles under the guise of promoting the album while staying in various friends’ homes.

John wanted to do two things in LA – he wanted to sing on an album of songs that inspired him to become a musician, and he wanted to produce another artist. He wanted to make music, but he didn’t want to make John Lennon albums. For the former, he enlisted Phil Spector to produce his oldies record, and the latter, he chose Beatles’ pal Harry Nilsson, whom Lennon once called his “favorite American artist.”

While preparing to record, John and May moved to a house in Santa Monica. Many of the other musicians were also friends who stayed in the house with them – Keith Moon, Klaus Voormann, and Ringo Starr, among others. Yoko called every day, usually multiple times, talking to John about everything from where she went shopping, how she was suicidal, her solo career, how she had a boyfriend. She wouldn’t say who it was, but John quickly guessed, and was right – David Alan Spinozza, a session guitarist who was working with Yoko on her latest album.

It was during this time in L.A. that John began giving interviews to promote the album. May saw first-hand the immediate difference between the public and private John. Public John was hilarious, warm, witty, brilliant. Private John could be these things, but was also moody, dark, and sometimes violent, particularly when he drank. John dealt with his fear of women by allowing them to manipulate him, and he dealt with his anger over that by manipulating men.

It is relatively well-known that John had issues with women. In art school he asked his first wife Cynthia for a date. After she told him she was engaged to someone else he walked away before turning back around and shouting at her, “I didn’t ask you to fuckin’ marry me!” Left by his mother at a young age and raised by his domineering Aunt Mimi, young John was constantly torn between longing for a hippie and a tyrant.

It is easy to see how Yoko’s extremism and intense attitude towards work appealed to John, especially in the wake of his post-Beatles uncertainty. Lennon was a man of many faces and Pang saw it early on in Los Angeles. There were several “scary drunk” moments where he exploded, crying, throwing things, shouting that nobody loved him. How sad to think that his most basic fear, and his deepest feeling about himself, was that no one loved him for just being John. He thought everyone loved “John Lennon” and acted accordingly.

The sessions with Phil Spector were a legendary nightmare. Phil would have all of the session musicians show up at once, though that was inefficient and the costs were exorbitant. Spector himself would show up hours late high on amyl nitrate and wearing costumes, as a doctor in scrubs one day, as a karate sensei the next, always with his gun visible in his hip holster. The sessions turned into parties soaked with booze, and musicians would mill about with nothing to do, those both hired to play and drop-ins, including Mick Jagger, Elton John, and Joni Mitchell with Warren Beatty (“Yet another of Joni’s trophies,” according to John). In one of the early sessions, John got so drunk that he grabbed guitarist Jesse Ed Davis and kissed him on the lips, and then punched him as hard as he could leaving him sprawling on the ground, John staring at him in disgust and calling him a faggot. This was one of the tamer scenes at the Spector sessions. He apologized to friends who called the day after, explaining, “It was a bad dream that has passed.”

Recording with Harry Nilsson wasn’t much better. John had cut back on alcohol but Harry was always a hard drinker. His vocal chords were so damaged at that time that after he’d sing, there would be blood on the microphone. Harry didn’t want to tell John, for fear he would post-pone their sessions. Harry went to see a doctor in Palm Springs, and John and May went along with him. That night, after many drinks and when they were all in the hot tub, John grabbed May’s throat and quite possibly would have strangled her to death if Harry hadn’t leapt to her defense, pulling John away.

To finish Harry’s album, John decided they needed to go back to New York, where he felt he would have more control of both Harry and himself. He asked May to stay in Los Angeles, but several weeks later, called and said he missed her. She flew to New York. May had been worried he was seeing other women, but as a mistress herself, had little right to call out that behavior.

In Japan, it wasn’t uncommon among the upper classes to have “wives” and “mistresses” who knew about and were cordial to each other. Yoko wanted to be the wife and made it clear to John that she was happy to allow May to remain the mistress. Yoko wanted to stay in the Dakota. She developed a shopping habit, regularly spending thousands every time she went to Henri Bendel’s, taking limousines everywhere she went. She was recording and performing as a solo artist. She was Yoko Ono, and she no longer had much use for John Lennon.

How do we know when to hold out and when to give in? When do we learn to differentiate between what we want, and what we need? May encouraged John to write, and also to stand on his own two feet; to be an adult. With May, he wrote and recorded the magical, and appropriately named, “Walls and Bridges” in record time. Yoko repeatedly told John he didn’t need to record anymore. He had already proven himself to the world. Yoko treated him like a child, controlling everything. In waffling between May and Yoko, John had to choose between becoming an adult or staying a child, the difference between his mother and Aunt Mimi.

Back in New York after completing Harry’s album Pussy Cats, John and May got their own apartment on East 52nd Street. Yoko still phoned them regularly. She initially had tried to talk them into getting their own apartment next to hers at the Dakota, an idea which May immediately vetoed. Meanwhile, Yoko’s solo album and career weren’t doing as well as she anticipated. She and David Spinozza had split up after he suggested Yoko stop using John’s money to produce her albums. He said that if she wanted to be an artist in her own right, she should stop using John’s name. She told David he was unsupportive.

Yoko called May one day and told her she was thinking of taking John back. May was scared, as she knew she was no match for Yoko’s will. In February of 1975, Yoko called John and told him she had found a cure for smoking. She herself had recently quit cold turkey. John had been trying to quit for some time. He went to Yoko’s, where he was with her and her hypnotist for two days. When he came back to May, he seemed dazed. She described him as looking “brainwashed.” He gave May a gift from Yoko, a vial of essential oil that reeked of sulfur. John had come to tell May he was moving out of their apartment and back in with Yoko. She had a month to vacate.

It is sad to think of John as being happier in a relationship that encouraged him to stay at home and not make music, to sever ties with those he loved. When John spoke of Yoko publicly, he seemed quite enamored of her, and willing to sacrifice much for the marriage. And perhaps that was part of the appeal. In being with Yoko, he could be ‘not John Lennon.’ With May, he was very much himself, seeing old friends, frequently in touch with his first son Julian, making music, living his life. While appealing to a degree, what he ultimately wanted was a break from himself. People paint Yoko as the domineering wicked puppet master who broke up the Beatles, but are we forgetting that John had a choice? He could have stayed John Lennon. He chose to be Mr. Ono.

Kathryn Sanders is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Los Angeles. She tumbls here and tweets here. This is her first appearance in these pages.

"White White" - Ivana XL (mp3)

"Sundowner" - Ivana XL (mp3)

"Black Eye" - Ivana XL (mp3)



In Which We're Sorry We Had A Row Moonbeam

Emails From Your Boyfriend The Beatle


On Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 8:45 PM, John Lennon<hrtbreakhotel@gmail.com> wrote:

Hey Babe.

I've bought a military jacket. I thought that you would find that quite amusing.

I'm writing to let you know, besides that I've bought a military jacket: I've decided to stay in my bathtub for a fortnight; now, now. I know. But I've a feeling that if I don't (stay in my bathtub for a fortnight), these awful wars will never end. It's dawned on me that a bathtub isn't quite so terrible a situation, especially not when compared with large-scale human suffering, so I've decided to fill the bathtub with river water from the Hudson. I've been carrying it up in buckets for a week now, leisurely. I heard of a boy who drank a teaspoon of water from the River Hudson and he became quite a maniac, really. Any interest in the tub idea? Could get ahold of some pharmaceuticals and make it quite fun!



On Thu, Nov 18, 2009 at 7:43 AM, Paul McCartney<thecuteone@gmail.com> wrote:

My Kitten,

First off: I'm sorry we had a row. It was a drag. And, you know, when I say it was a drag, I mean it was a terrible drag. A stone drag. I'm sorry, moonbeam. Look! I've writ you a poem!

Heloise, Hannah, and Joan
They can never dethrone
You, I'm blue, boo hoo.
Take me back! Heart attack!
Getting our love back on track --

Aw, love, it's rubbish. Even John won't speak to me. And he's usually quite a help with my poems. Look, perhaps you can stop by after work? Might you still have access to any pharmaceuticals? Even some shoe polish, distilled. That should jump-start things a bit, creatively. I'll stop scrumping that barkeep! I'll be true!

Yours Forever, Holding Your Hand,


On Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 5:02 PM, Ringo Starr<snarkystarkey@gmail.com> wrote:

Hey, Missus Octopus,

Ringo here. I'm not sure your phone is working. I've sent you quite a few SMS texts? Ringo, from the bar? 

I was the one who was sipping a mai tai, slaying you with my wit?



On Thu, Nov 17, 2009 at 2:00 AM, George Harrison<DharmaAndGeorge@gmail.com> wrote:


[guitar solo]

hello love.

I've eaten six bags of jelly babies, shipped from the UK. I've still got one bag in the pantry, if you'd like to join me after yoga.


[guitar solo]



On Thu, Nov 20, 2009 at 7:43 AM, Paul McCartney <thecuteone@gmail.com> wrote:

Hello, Bird,

Do you like when I call you that? I've had a thought, lover. What do you think of this!: I'm going to re-write the lyrics "Michelle, my belle" as "Michelle, my bird." Or maybe "Michelle, ma bird," if I do go in that direction after all. But what rhymes with bird? Word? "These two things are go-together words." Oh, well, stumped again!

Love Forever,


On Thu, Nov 20, 2009 at 8:45 PM, John Lennon <hrtbreakhotel@gmail.com> wrote:

Hey Babe. 

I've gotten out of the bathtub. I didn't feel I was suffering at all, really. I kept refilling it when I caught chill -- I couldn't help it. I'm terrible at suffering. In order to improve, I'm going to try putting the bath on a barge, and then filling the barge with garbage and orphans, and sinking it into the River Hudson. After a dunk or two, I'll surely be a maniac, unable to fill my greedy mouth with candies. Are you coming along, my woman? I wish our human's skin was interwoven, like that peasant's basket from which we sampled the fruits of Jamaica.



On Thu, Nov 20, 2009 at 5:02 PM, Ringo Starr <snarkystarkey@gmail.com> wrote:

Well, hello, Missus Octopus!

Just a quick query as to why you have not responded to my emails and the SMS text messages I sent to your mobile? Feeling self-conscious (I'll admit it! Even I, a Beatle, sometimes feel just wee) about the last time we spoke, I thought I'd extend an olive oil branch in your direction. 



On Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 2:00 AM, George Harrison <DharmaAndGeorge@gmail.com> wrote:


[guitar solo]


excuse me.

today's lunch: almonds, apricots, prayer bread, and a chunky bar.

i'm curious what you had. it's a shame we have to eat at all, with all the starving children in third world countries.

what are the second world countries?

[guitar solo]




On Thu, Nov 21, 2009 at 7:43 AM, Paul McCartney <thecuteone@gmail.com> wrote:

Allo Allo Allo!

I know it's your birthday in a few weeks, and I've decided that instead of getting you things like diamonds and furs, all that wanky money stuff, I'd write you a poem. Poems are precious, like love, and ideas!

You are fun, and your love
is a lot of fun
And you say lots of fun things
(you know you do you know you do you know you do)
And of this ever-better world of which we speak of
Makes you want to say "Hi"

I've got a call in to John about the wrap-up bit. Hope you don't mind if he collaborates with me. It's my heart it's from. Don't forget who has the dimples, princess -- me. 



On Thu, Nov 21, 2009 at 6:45 PM, John Lennon <hrtbreakhotel@gmail.com> wrote:

Hey Babe.

They have Wifi on this barge. Can you imagine? There is literally no place in New York where I can suffer adequately. I've asked around, and it seems my only option -- the only way possible to peacefully protest the human tragedies of the world today -- is to wrap myself in sandpaper and roll about on the president's lawn whilst naked. Oh dear. I hope I'm not allergic to sandpaper. I think I might be allergic to contact paper.

The invitation still stands. I promise it will be texturally interesting.



On Thu, Nov 21, 2009 at 4:02 PM, Ringo Starr <snarkystarkey@gmail.com> wrote:

Hewoooo? Missus Owctopuwss?

Did you get the smoke signals I sent to your house? It's latitude 34.07, longitude -118.31...right? Could you read the special message I sent you? Don't tell the trees the secret things I said!

Please, please!!



On Thu, Nov 20, 2009 at 2:04 AM, George Harrison <DharmaAndGeorge@gmail.com> wrote:


[sitar solo]

i've just discovered a new instrument. ravi showed me. it's like a guitar, but it makes me sound much more intelligent. check it out:

[sitar solo]


see you at yoga tonight.



Tess Lynch is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is an actress and writer living in Los Angeles. She tumbls here. She last wrote in these pages about her favorite novels.

"You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" - Oasis (mp3)

"I'm Only Sleeping" - Oasis (mp3)

"Within You Without You" - Oasis (mp3)

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Almie Rose on Revolver...

Eleanor Morrow on John Lennon and Bob Dylan...

Durga Chew-Bose on Rubber Soul...

It's so hard to be Paul McCartney...

The rest of our days with John and Yoko.


In Which We Revisit John Lennon's Doggerel

The Daily Howl


John Lennon wrote poetry. More specifically he wrote doggerel. I think doggerel is pretty underrated as far as art forms go. If somebody published the poems Tess and I have co-authored on IM over the years they'd make a mint. Well, maybe not a mint but they're worth at least the paper they weren't printed on. Lennon was a genius with words. The neighboring Liverpool poetry scene fomented the notion of pop poetry.

If you hear any early interviews with the Beatles it's clear that all four are hilarious. John in particular had a keenly absurd sense of humor that translated extremely well to radio. He could be caustically funny, influencing the confrontational interview style of Bob Dylan. He was a polymath, always writing poems and drawing pictures while also making music.

Lennon started writing and drawing early in life, with encouragement from his Uncle George, and created his own comic strip in his school book, which he called "The Daily Howl". It contained drawings (frequently of crippled people) and satirical writings, often with a play on words. Lennon wrote a weather report saying, "Tomorrow will be Muggy, followed by Tuggy, Wuggy and Thuggy."

Lennon was adept at free association and improvisation in his linguistic explorations, which can be seen in both his prose writing and a portion of his lyrics. Use of puns, near-homonyms, bizarre imagery, disconnected narrative threads and references, creative misspellings, and abrupt, unresolved conclusions.

In many ways its style is similar to books written by Spike Milligan or the spoken nonsense of Stanley Unwin.

Some poems from Lennon's two published collections of poetry, A Spaniard In The Works and In His Own Write and a posthumous volume of pictures and such, Skywriting By Word Of Mouth.


I was bored on the 9th of Octover 1940 when, I believe, the Nasties were still booming us led by Madalf Heatlump (Who had only one). Anyway, they didn't get me. I attended to varicous schools in Liddypol. And still didn't pass-much to my Aunties supplies. As a memebr of the most publified Beatles me and (P, G, and R's) records might seem funnier to some of you than this book, but as far as I'm conceived this correction of short writty is the most wonderfoul larf I've ever ready.
God help and breed you all.


Arf, Arf, he goes, a merry sight
Our little hairy friend
Arf, Arf, upon the lampost bright
Arfing round the bend.
Nice dog! Goo boy,
Waggie tail and beg,
Clever Nigel, jump for joy
Because we are putting you to sleep at three of the clock, Nigel.


It was little Bobby's birthmark today and he got a surprise. His very fist was lopped off, (The War) and he got a birthday hook!
All his life Bobby had wanted his very own hook; and now on his 39th birthday his pwayers had been answered. The only trouble was they had send him a left hook and ebry dobby knows that it was Bobby's right fist that was missing as it were.
What to do was not thee only problem: Anyway he jopped off his lest hand and it fitted like a glove. Maybe next year he will get a right hook, who knows?


I strolled into a farmyard
When no-one was about
Treading past the troubles
I raised my head to shout.

'Come out the Cow with glasses,'
I called and rolled my eye.
It ambled up toward me,
I milked it with a sigh.

'You're just in time' the cow said,
Its eyes were all aglaze,
'I'm feeling like an elephant,
I aren't been milked for days.'

'Why is this? ' I asked it,
Tugging at its throttles.
'I don't know why, perhaps it's 'cause
MY milk comes out in bottles.'

'That's handy for the government,'
I thought, and in a tick
The cow fell dead all sudden
(I'd smashed it with a brick).


I'm a moldy moldy man
I'm moldy thru and thru
I'm a moldy moldy man
You would not think it true
I'm moldy til my eyeballs
I'm moldy til my toe
I will not dance I shyballs
I'm such a humble Joe.


I have a little budgie
He is my very pal
I take him walks in Britain
I hope I always shall.

I call my budgie Jeffrey
My grandads name's the same
I call him after grandad
Who had a feathered brain.

Some people don't like budgies
The little yellow brats
They eat them up for breakfast
Or give them to their cats.

My uncle ate a budgie
It was so fat and fair.
I cried and called him Ronnie
He didn't seem to care

Although his name was Arthur
It didn't mean a thing.
He went into a petshop
And ate up everything.

The doctors looked inside him,
To see what they could do,
But he had been too greedy
He died just like a zoo.

My Jeffrey chirps and twitters
When I walk into the room,
I make him scrambled egg on toast
And feed him with a spoon.

He sings like other budgies
But only when in trim
But most of all on Sunday
Thats when I plug him in.

He flies about the room sometimes
And sits upon my bed
And if he's really happy
He does it on my head.

He's on a diet now you know
From eating far too much
They say if he gets fatter
He'll have to wear a crutch.

It would be funny wouldn't it
A budgie on a stick
Imagine all the people
Laughing till they're sick.

So that's my budgie Jeffrey
Fat and yellow too
I love him more than daddie
And I'm only thirty two.


I sat belonely down a tree,
humbled fat and small.
A little lady sing to me
I couldn't see at all.

I'm looking up and at the sky,
to find such wonderous voice.
Puzzly, puzzle, wonder why,
I hear but I have no choice.

'Speak up, come forth, you ravel me',
I potty menthol shout.
'I know you hiddy by this tree'.
But still she won't come out.

Such sofly singing lulled me sleep,
an hour or two or so
I wakeny slow and took a peep
and still no lady show.

Then suddy on a little twig
I thought I see a sight,
A tiny little tiny pig,
that sing with all it's might 'I thought you were a lady',
I giggle, - well I may,
To my surprise the lady,
got up - and flew away.


A is for Parrot which we can plainly see
B is for glasses which we can plainly see
C is for plastic which we can plainly see
D is for Doris
E is for binoculars I'll get in five
F is for Ethel who lives next door
G is for orange because we love to eat when we can get them because they come from abroad
H is for England and (Heather)
I is for monkey we see in the tree
J is for parrot which we can plainly see
K is for shoetop we wear to the ball
L is for Land because brown
K is for Venezula where the oranges come from
N is for Brazil near Venezuela (very near)
O is for football which we kick about a bit
T is for Tommy who won the war
Q is a garden which we can plainly see
R is for intestines which hurt when we dance
S is for pancake or whole-wheat bread
U is for Ethel who lives on the hill
P is arab and her sister will
V is for me
W is for lighter which never lights
X is for easter--have one yourself
Y is a crooked letter and you can't straighten it
Z is for Apple which we can plainly see

This is my story both humble and true
Take it to pieces and mend it with glue

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording. She tumbls here and twitters here.