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Lennon Remembers, Part Two

Page 8 of 9

What was it like getting married? Did you enjoy it?
It was very romantic. It's all in the song, "The Ballad of John and Yoko," if you want to know how it happened, it's in there. Gibraltar was like a little sunny dream. I couldn't find a white suit – I had sort of off-white corduroy trousers and a white jacket. Yoko had all white on.

What was your first peace event?
The first peace event was the Amsterdam Bed Peace when we got married.

What was that like–that was your first re-exposure to the public.
It was a nice high. We were on the seventh floor of the Hilton looking over Amsterdam – it was very crazy, the press came expecting to see us fucking in bed – they all heard John and Yoko were going to fuck in front of the press for peace. So when they all walked in – about 50 or 60 reporters flew over from London all sort of very edgy, and we were just sitting in pajamas saying "Peace, Brother," and that was it. On the peace thing there's lots of heavy discussions with intellectuals about how you should do it and how you shouldn't.

When you got done, did you feel satisfied with the Bed Peace. . . .
They were great events when you think that the world newspaper headlines were the fact that we were a married couple in bed talking about peace. It was one of our greater episodes. It was like being on tour without moving, sort of a big promotional thing. I think we did a good job for what we were doing, which was trying to get people to own up.

You chose the word "peace" and not "love," or another word that means the same thing. What did you like about the word "peace."
Yoko and I were discussing our different lives and careers when we first got together. What we had in common in a way, was that she'd done things for peace like standing in Trafalgar Square in a black bag and things like that – we were just trying to work out what we could do – and the Beatles had been singing about "love" and things. So we pooled our resources and came out with the Bed Peace – it was some way of doing something together that wouldn't involve me standing in Trafalgar Square in a black bag because I was too nervous to do that. Yoko didn't want to do anything that wasn't for peace.

Did you ever get any reaction from political leaders?
I don't know about the Bed-In. We got reaction to sending acorns – different heads of state actually planted their acorns, lots of them wrote to us answering about the acorns. We sent acorns to practically everybody in the world.

Who answered?
Well I believe Golda Meir said "I don't know who they are but if it's for peace, we're for it" or something like that. Scandinavia, somebody or other planted it. I think Haile Salassie planted his, I'm not sure. Some Queen somewhere. There was quite a few people that understood the idea.

Did you send one to Queen Elizabeth?
We sent one to Harold Wilson, I don't think we got a reply from Harold, did we?

What was it like meeting [Canadian] Prime Minister Trudeau? What was his response to you?
He was interested in us because he thought we might represent some sort of youth faction – he wants to know, like everybody does, really. I think he was very nervous – he was more nervous than we were when we met. We talked about everything – just anything you can think of. We spent about 40 minutes – it was 5 minutes longer than he'd spent with the heads of state which was the great glory of the time. He'd read In His Own Write, my book, and things like that. He liked the poetry side of it. We just wanted to see what they did, how they worked.

You appeared in the bags for Hanratty.
For Hanratty, yes, we did a sort of bag event, but it wasn't us in the bag it was somebody else. The best thing we did in a bag together was a press conference in Vienna. When they were showing Yoko's "Rape" on Austrian TV – they commissioned us to make the film and then we went over to Vienna to see it.

It was like a hotel press conference. We kept them out of the room. We came down the elevator in the bag and we went in and we got comfortable and they were all ushered in. It was a very strange scene because they'd never seen us before, or heard – Vienna is a pretty square place. A few people were saying, "C'mon, get out of the bags." And we wouldn't let 'em see us. They all stood back saying "Is it really John and Yoko?" and "What are you wearing and why are you doing this?" We said, "this is total communications with no prejudice." It was just great. They asked us to sing and we sang a few numbers. Yoko was singing a Japanese folk song, very nicely, just very straight we did it. And they never did see us.

What kind of a response did you get to the "War Is Over" poster?
We got a big response. The people that got in touch with us understood what a grand event it was apart from the message itself. We got just "thank you's" from lots of youths around the world – for all the things we were doing – that inspired them to do something. We had a lot of response from other than pop fans, which was interesting, from all walks of life and age. If I walk down the street now I'm more liable to get talked to about peace than anything I've done. The first thing that happened in New York was just walking down the street and a woman just came up to me and said "Good luck with the peace thing," that's what goes on mainly – it's not about "I Want to Hold Your Hand." And that was interesting – it bridged a lot of gaps.

What do you think of those erotic lithographs now?
I don't think about them.

Why did you do them?
Because somebody said do some lithographs and I was in a drawing mood and I drew them.

You also did a scene for the Tynan play. How did that come about?
I met Tynan a few times around and about and he just said – this is about two years ago or more – he just said "I'm getting all these different people to write something erotic, will you do it?" And I told him that if I come up with something I'd do it and if I don't, I don't. So I came up with two lines, two or three lines which was the masturbation scene. It was a great childhood thing, everybody'd been masturbating and trying to think of something sexy and somebody'd shout Winston Churchill in the middle of it and break down. So I just wrote that down on a paper and told them to put whichever names in that suited the hero and they did it. I've never seen it.

What accounts for your great popularity?
Because I fuckin' did it. I copped out in that Beatle thing. I was like an artist that went off. . . . Have you never heard of like Dylan Thomas and all them who never fuckin' wrote but just went up drinking and Brendan Behan and all of them, they died of drink . . . everybody that's done anything is like that. I just got meself in a party, I was an emperor, I had millions of chicks, drugs, drink, power and everybody saying how great I was. How could I get out of it? It was just like being in a fuckin' train. I couldn't get out.

I couldn't create, either. I created a little, it came out, but I was in the party and you don't get out of a thing like that. It was fantastic! I came out of the sticks, I didn't hear about anything – Van Gogh was the most far out thing I had ever heard of. Even London was something we used to dream of, and London's nothing. I came out of the fuckin' sticks to take over the world it seemed to me. I was enjoying it, and I was trapped in it, too. I couldn't do anything about it, I was just going along for the ride. I was hooked, just like a junkie.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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