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A day in the life of a Beatle: John Lennon's comically mundane handwritten to-do list


John Lennon’s life may have appeared as rock ‘n’ roll as you can get, but in the latter days of his life, he was blissfully content living a happy family-man existence in the Dakota Building with Yoko Ono and their son, Sean. With that in mind, this unearthed handwritten to-do list provides a somewhat comical glimpse into what Lennon’s life was like after he’d finally reached a level of personal peace.

The Beatles man was all-too-aware of the pitfalls that came with fame, and, in the 1970s, he managed to successfully escape the machine, a decision he had been pining to make since The Fab Four burst onto the scene and set the world alight. The Beatles broke new ground, and no other figure of pop culture figure prior to them had achieved international fame in the same hysterical frenzy. However, the joy that Lennon got from family life vastly outweighed the thrill of writing a hit record.

In 2011, a handwritten to-do list was unearthed and headed to auction, which Lennon wrote for his personal assistant, Fred Seaman. The note was dated as of May 22nd, 1980, just a matter of months before Lennon tragically was murdered by a depraved so-called ‘fan’ and was robbed of his life, just while he was at his happiest.

In truth, Lennon’s tasks for his personal assistant paints a rather mundane picture of the Beatle’s life. He set out 11 jobs for Seaman, with books being the subject weighing heaviest on his mind, as he writes: “ASK SAM GREEN For THOR HEYERDAHL BOOK (Return).”

He also passively-aggressively asks Seaman: “Would it be a good idea to make sure BOTH CARS have full GAS TANKS?” The most monumental activity scheduled to happen during May 22nd is the arrival of the “HBO guy” who is “coming between 3-5: BE THERE”. Lennon commands Seaman: “YOU [underlined] let him in” and “you [underlined] tell him what to do [underlined what to do].”

Lennon then goes on a bizarre ramble regarding an FM radio that seemingly has some kind of link to the HBO guy, writing: “Find out,” he instructs Seaman. “Maybe we do [underlined] want it.” However, Lennon does then have a stream of consciousness and admits, “I didn’t know what he was talking about.”

Another beautiful instruction from Lennon is a request for marmalade, which answers his breakfast routine — if that is a topic of conversation that has ever kept you awake at night. He also wants to know about his hairdryer and asks Seaman to give him a ‘Yay or Nay’, which evidently caused Lennon a great deal of stress for some unbeknown reason.

The comedic reality, of course, is that the entire list reads like a day in the life of Larry David as Lennon fell into the similar humdrum trappings of semi-retirement. The former Beatle started living life on his own terms with nobody to answer to, with marmalade reaching priority status in his joyful existence.

Lennon was still making music at this point, which he needed to do for his brain to function. However, he wasn’t operating at The Beatles’ lightning speed and, instead of filling his free time with drugs as he did during his infamous ‘lost weekend’, he was revelling in the mundanity of life. It’s heartwarming to see that even a figure like John Lennon still filled his mind with monotonous details. Wonder if he ever got that hairdryer sorted? 

See the letter, below.

(Credit: Gotta Have Rock and Roll)