Label: Shout! Factory
Released: April 1, 2008
I’ve had a bit of a stormy relationship with John Lennon, not that it would matter to John. His greatest public achievement was the band that made rock n roll matter and mine is…well…this website. Besides, John was dead by the time my relationship with him began. I was nine (almost 10) when John was shot. I remember it in the news, but mine was not a musical household and I really wasn’t interested in much other than Kiss. However, throughout my teenage years, the Beatles (and John in particular) became increasingly important, transcending my journey from pop to metal to punk. I’ve never been one for idol worship…except John. He is the only celebrity I’ve ever wished I could meet. Through those years, I made excuses for John’s treatment of Cynthia and Julian. I made excuses for his excesses, for his “Lost Weekend” and for his grandstanding as an “activist” (what did the Bed In do for peace anyway?).
Later, I became increasingly disenchanted with John Lennon. I put more weight on the rotten man that I suspected he really was and less on the public persona under whose spell I’d fallen. The Beatles remain to this day my favorite band and Lennon is the biggest difference between their work and the sappy nonsense that has made up so much of McCartney’s career. Still, I believe I’d rather live without all of that if it had meant that one particular kid had had an actual father rather than a sperm donor who claimed his son had come from a whiskey bottle.
All that being said, the truth probably falls somewhere in between the two very different John Lennon’s I had built in my head and Tom Snyder’s interview with Lennon shows that. John is hardly at his wittiest, but he seems to be as frank and honest as he was capable of being. It’s no wonder the interview was replayed, by overwhelming request, just after his death. Unlike other interviews where John is more clever or scathing or jovial, this is an intimate self-portrait at a time when he was regaining control over himself. The additional interviews with Lennon insiders about his passing also give a glimpse into what may have been the true John Lennon.
What wasn’t clear to me when I was 9 was that John Lennon’s death had a big impact on people. I knew this in reading about it later, but these interviews with John and with his friends just after his death bring a clarity that escapes historical knowledge. None of this completely changed my opinion of John Lennon. I still think I’m a lot closer than all the people who think “Imagine” is a great mantra for peace, but it does show that I am now, just as I was before, only judging part of the man. The strength of Snyder’s interview is that it neither glorifies nor disparages John Lennon. It just shows him as he is.
The second disc contains interviews with Paul and Linda McCartney and Ringo Starr that are less exciting than being in a coma.