Published by Verso on December 17, 2001
Initially published on the twentieth anniversary of his death, this candid book reveals new information on the breakup of the Beatles, fellow musicians such as Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, Lennon’s attitudes towards revolution and drugs, and his relationship with Yoko Ono. Featuring new introductions by Ono and Wenner, and containing substantial material never before seen in print, Lennon Remembers presents a compelling portrait of a complex musical genius at the height of his career. Sometimes anguished and angry, often tender and poignant, these interviews are indispensable to understanding who John Lennon was and why his legacy continues to resonate today.
“Lennon Remembers is classic Lennon. It’s not a sit-back-and-put-your-feet-up read… It’s a jolt on your nerves like bad, bad espresso. People with weak stomachs should close the window before reading. You might just feel like jumping out.”
~ Yoko Ono, from the Foreword
I hardly ever read forewords, I want to get to the meat of the story and feel those numeral numbered pages get in the way. But, before starting Lennon Remembers, the 1970 Rolling Stone Interview conducted by Jann Wenner, I did. Yoko Ono’s foreword to this documentation was insightful and well written. Although, at the time of reading it I felt it was exaggerated, I mean seriously, jumping out a window seems a little over the top.
I did not want to open my window and “jump out” as the foreword warned, but this was not the “sit-back-and-put-your-feet-up” Love me Do read I was expecting. Not even close. This is John Lennon post Beatles and shows him as an individual and not just part of the fab four.
The Beatles do play a decent part in the interview (because let’s face it, that’s what many people want to hear.) and he wades between reminiscence and bitterness/frustration by the disintegration of the band. Which he insists broke up because he and Paul were egomaniacs and had nothing to do with Yoko Ono.
Music obviously is one of the main acts. Lennon, divulges his thoughts on lyrics of both the Beatles and Plastic Ono Band. i.e. Mother, Working Class Hero and the Let It Be Album.
Lennon’s passion for peace shines through, though at times he came off as rambling and while I was enthralled with bed peace, I just wanted him to get to the point already. Alas, this rambling passion had a tendency to portray him as a pompous ass and felt his wife (who also sat for the interviews) calmed him, bringing the singer back to Earth.
This set of interviews reminded me of the revised edition of the Diary of Anne Frank. Said edition included entries that Otto Frank omitted. These entries to Kitty hijacked the girl who believes that everyone is good at heart and showed a picture of a girl going through teenage angst making her more “normal”. I think that is what Jann Wenner interviews did with John Lennon, it cleanses us of all we thought we knew, “It’s a jolt on your nerves.”
Lennon Remembers is a very bittersweet read. It is informative and is a heavy look at John Lennon but it also left me feeling heavy-hearted as I knew he would never make it to 64 as the conclusion to the Rolling Stone interview suggests.
‘Do you have a picture of, “When I’m 64”?’
No, no. I hope we’re a nice old couple living off the coast of Ireland or something like that, looking at our scrapbooks of madness.