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A look back at when John Lennon interviewed himself

@TomTaylorFO

Getting megastar musicians to interview themselves and then type it up for you? Now there’s a novel idea that sounds like the stuff of dreams for any music writer. Unfortunately, it takes an artiste like Andy Warhol to convince his coterie of counterculture spawns that such an endeavour was not the capitalist trope of a guy who is in business for himself, and, in fact, a bright new reinvention of a technique pioneered by legendary socialist playwright George Bernard Shaw. 

His main scoop on this epic time-saving endeavour was former ‘Fab Four’ phenom, John Lennon. The interview is from 1974, a period when Lennon was in the depths of his Lost Weekend depravity, meaning that wild self-reflection proved fortuitously fruitful, proving yet again that Warhol was certainly a guy with an eye for the main chance. The fact that Lennon chose to run with the self-appointed headline of – Interview/Interview with by/on John Lennon and/or Dr Winston O’Boogie – should give you a clue regarding his headspace at the time not to mention the endless spiel of UFO’s that runs throughout. Without further ado, let us dive into his musings on fame and beyond…

He begins by posing himself the question: “Well, er, John, it’s been a long time no speak.” To which he replies to himself: “Has it been that long?” It’s hard not to imagine Lennon and Harry Nilsson getting a chuckle out of that intro. He then moves swiftly on to indulge himself with more gags based on the format of the self-interview. He then goes on to briefly mention a record of ‘Oldies’ he was making with the murderer Phil Spector that never got finished. 

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Beyond the jokey tittle-tattle, it is the next section about his sausages and cigarettes album Walls and Bridges that turns the heads of music fans. He asks himself whether the record is a step forward in his search for “never ending artistic fulfilment” and “the struggle of the lonely”, to which he replies: “I went to a party in L.A. just to look at a Liz Taylor, was thrilled to meet her, and on top of everything, who but who, do you think was all over her armpit? None other than the great, great show, David The Bowie! Wow! Was I thrilled to see that they were both smaller than me!”

Creatively he then takes the guise of the interviewer once more and remarks: “The track I liked best was that miserable one about ‘Nobody loves you when…’” Before cutting himself off to return to his salacious party gossip adding: “And Brian Wilson was there too, and Ringo and Elton and it was somebody’s 21st…” Such flourishes of intricate dialogue between Lennon and Lennon continue throughout to a great but almost grating degree. It makes you think in another life he would’ve made a good post-The Office 2000s comedy writer. 

Thereafter, he segues from salacious stories about Los Angeles parties to salacious stories about himself, at that period a sort of roving one-person party anyway. He boldly asks himself: “Have you ever fucked a guy?” And carries that same boldness into his reply: “Not yet, I thought I’d save it till I was 40, life begins at. 40 you know, tho I never noticed it.” Adding: “It’s trendy to be bi-sexual and you’re usually keeping up with the Jones’. Haven’t you ever… there was talk about you and Paul…” He replies: “Oh, I thought it was about me and Brian Epstein… anyway I’m saving all the juice for my own version of THE REAL FAB FOUR BEATLES STORY etc…”

He then concludes: “I don’t care what Lori Sebastian [Editor of the feature] says, I’ve had enough of this… anyway it’s not as if I’m on the cover or anything, I mean jeeze, I love Andy and everything, but this is it.” He then adds the witty postscript: “With that Mr Lennon showed me the door, which was white He was wearing jeans and a Mick Jagger tee-shirt (in the process prognosticating the modern ubiquitous interview style of introducing a piece ‘I was waiting in the lobby of the [famous] hotel, when [celebrity] approaches in an overcoat). I wore a certain look.”

Years later, when sobered and shacked up with Yoko Ono, he found himself reflecting on others rather than himself, and not in the most favourable mood. The subject of Truman Capote flitters into his mind and the late writer’s own take on the self-interview is the subject of great wrath from Lennon, stating: “It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t any better than the one I did two years ago.” In short, there is and always has been a duality to the very complex character of Lennon. Thanks for your time John, no problem.

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