John: 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. 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 got stuff of her with Cage, Ornette Coleman . . . we are going to put out "Oldies But Goldies" next for Yoko. I'll play it again and talk about it later.
Yoko: There is this thing that he just goes on falling in love with all sorts of things. But it is like he fell in love with some girl or something and he wrote this song. Who he fell in love with is not very important, the outcome of the song itself is important. That is very important.
For instance, you have to say that a song like "Well, Well, Well" is connected with Primal therapy or the theory of Primal Therapy.
No, no. Listen to "Cold Turkey."
Yoko: He's screaming there already.
John: Listen to "Twist and Shout." I couldn't sing the damn thing I was just screaming. Listen to it. Wop-Bop-a-loo-bop-a-Wop-bam-boom. Don't get the therapy confused with the music. Yoko's whole thing was that scream. "Don't Worry, Kyoko" was one of the fuckin' best rock and roll records ever made. 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 fantastic, you know. It's as important as anything we ever did, and it is as important as anything the Stones or Townshend ever did. Listen to it, and you'll hear what she is putting down. On "Cold Turkey" I'm getting towards it. I'm influenced by her music 1000 percent more than I ever was by anybody or anything. She makes music like you've never heard on earth.
And when the musicians play with her, they're inspired out of their skulls. I don't know how much they played her record later. We've got a cut of her from the Lyceum in London, 15 or 20 musicians playing with her, from Bonnie and Delaney and the fucking lot. We played the tracks of it the other night. It's the most fantastic music I've ever heard. They've probably gone away and forgotten all about it. It's fantastic. It's like 20 years ahead of its time. Anyway, back to mine.
You once said about "Cold Turkey": "That's not a song, that's a diary."
So is this, you know. 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 mean Janov showed me more of my own pain. I went through therapy with him like I told you and I'm probably looser all over.
Are you less paranoid now?
No. Janov showed me how to feel my own fear and pain, therefore I can handle it better than I could before, that's all. I'm the same, only there's a channel. It doesn't just remain in me, it goes round and out. I can move a little easier.
What was your experience with heroin?
It just was not too much fun. I never injected it or anything. We sniffed a little when we were in real pain. We got such a hard time from everyone, and I've had so much thrown at me, and at Yoko, especially at Yoko. 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. That's going on all the time. And we get into so much pain that we have to do something about it. And that's what happened to us. We took "H" because of what the Beatles and others were doing to us. But we got out of it.
Yoko: You know he really produced his own stuff. Phil is, as you know, well-known about as a very skillful sort of technician with electronics and engineering.
John: 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.
Well, I learned a lot on this album, technically. I didn't have to learn so much before. Usually Paul and I would be listening to it and we wouldn't have to listen to each individual sound. 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. But as a concept and as a whole thing, I'm pleased, yes. That's about it, really. If I get down to the nitty gritty, it would drive me mad, but I do like it really.
When you record, do you go for feeling or perfection of the sound?
I like both. I go for feeling. Most takes are right off and most times I sang it and played it at the same time. 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.
It starts off with bells: why?
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 was probably different, because those were actually bells slowed down that they used on the album. 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 . . .
You said that you wrote most of the songs in California?
Well, actually some of it. Actually I wrote "Mother" in England, "Isolation" in England and a few more. I finished them off in California. You will have to push me if you want more detail. "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.
You said that this would be the first "Primal Album."
When did I say that?
In California. Have you gone off it?
I haven't gone off it, it is just that "Primal" is like another mirror, you know.
Yoko: He is sort of like any artist, because he really wants to be honest to himself and to the album, I suppose. What he does is just patching up something that is sort of interesting – so-so, or something. He really puts himself in it, his life in it, you know, and so, like when he went to India, he was inflluenced by the Maharishi.
John: It's really like, you know, writers take themselves to Singapore to get the atmosphere. So wherever I am. In that way it is sort of a "Primal" album. It's like George's is the first "Gita" album.
Yoko: It's that relevant. The Primal Scream is a mirror and he was looking at the mirror.
When you came out to San Francisco, you wanted to take an advertisement to say, "This Is It!"
I think that is something people will go through at the beginning of that therapy, because you are so astounded with what you find out about yourself. You think, well, surely this is something, because it happens to you, and this must be the first time that it happened.
And, it was that we wanted to come. I need a reason for going somewhere – otherwise I'm too nervous, so I calm myself. So that was a good way of coming to San Francisco to see you. Then I have an objective: "I'm going to do an act and this is what we are coming to do." And we settle down and we just talk.
I still think that Janov's therapy is great, you know, but I don't want to make it into a big Maharishi thing. You were right to tell me to forget the advert, and that is why I don't even want to talk about it too much, if people know what I've been through there, and if they want to find out, they can find out, otherwise it turns into that again.
You don't want people to think that this is the single thing to do.
I don't think anything else would work on me. But then of course, I'm not through with it; it's a process that is going on. We primal almost daily. You see, I don't really want to get this big Primal thing going because it is so embarrassing. The thing in a nutshell: primal therapy allowed us to feel feelings continually, and those feelings usually make you cry. That's all. Because before, I wasn't feeling things, that's all. I was blocking the feelings, and when the feelings come through, you cry. It's as simple as that, really.
Do you think the experience of therapy helped you become a better singer?
Do you think your singing is better on this album?
It's probably better because I have the whole time to myself, you know. I mean I'm pretty good at home with the tapes. This time it was my album and it used to get a bit embarrassing in front of George and Paul, because we know each other so well. We used to be a bit supercritical of each other, so we inhibited each other a lot. And now I have Yoko there, and Phil there, alternatively and together, who sort of love me so that I can perform better, and I relaxed. I've got a whole studio at home now, and I think it will be better next time, because that is even less inhibiting than going to E.M.I. It's like that, but the looseness of the singing was developing on "Cold Turkey" from the experience of Yoko's singing. You see, she does not inhibit her throat.
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