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kottke.org posts about John Lennon

The original demo of Imagine by John Lennon

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 27, 2018

A demo version of Imagine, unheard for decades, was recently uncovered in an archive of Lennon audio tapes. You can listen to the beautifully spare rendition here:

While sifting through boxes upon boxes of the original tapes for Yoko Ono, engineer Rob Stevens discovered something truly remarkable that had gone unnoticed all these years. “Early 2016, during the gestation period of this project, I’m in the Lennon archives with my people going through tape boxes that have labeling that’s unclear, misleading, or missing entirely”, says Stevens. “There’s a one-inch eight-track that says nothing more on the ‘Ascot Sound’ label than John Lennon, the date, and the engineer (Phil McDonald), with DEMO on the spine. No indication of what material was on the tape. One delicate transfer to digital later, the “Imagine” demo, subsequently enhanced superbly by Paul Hicks, appears within this comprehensive set. It was true serendipity.”

Compare it to the remastered studio version and a live version.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

I could definitely get into that. For those unwilling to imagine no possessions, the demo, along with several others, appears on a collection coming out in the fall: preorder on Amazon or iTunes. (via @tedgioia)

Radio sounds from the night Lennon died

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 08, 2014

John Lennon died 34 years ago today. The night he died, someone made a six-minute recording of what was playing on FM radio in NYC:

Almost every station was either discussing the death or playing a Beatles song. See also the front page of the NY Times the next day and the article in the Daily News about the shooting. (via wfmu & @UnlikelyWorlds)

Update: Legendary reporter Jimmy Breslin wrote a piece shortly after the shooting about the police officers that drove Lennon to the hospital that night.

As Moran started driving away, he heard people in the street shouting, “That’s John Lennon!”

Moran was driving with Bill Gamble. As they went through the streets to Roosevelt Hospital, Moran looked in the backseat and said, “Are you John Lennon?” The guy in the back nodded and groaned.

Back on Seventy-second Street, somebody told Palma, “Take the woman.” And a shaking woman, another victim’s wife, crumpled into the backseat as Palma started for Roosevelt Hospital. She said nothing to the two cops and they said nothing to her. Homicide is not a talking matter.

And that last paragraph, wow. (via @mkonnikova)

John Lennon’s poster

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 09, 2012

Peter Dean is a big Beatles fan. And so he set out to reproduce exactly — from photographic evidence only — an old circus poster owned by John Lennon. In true Sgt. Pepper’s fashion, he had a little help from his friends.

This is a reproduction of the poster that inspired John Lennon to write the song Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!, which appeared on The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It is printed in a limited edition of 1,967.

Lennon bought the poster in an antiques shop and hung it in his music room. While writing for Sgt. Pepper one day, he drew inspiration from the quirky, old-fashioned language and set the words to music.

A limited edition letterpress reproduction of the poster is available for sale.

Lennon/McCartney, reconsidered

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 20, 2010

In his new series for Slate about creative partnerships, Joshua Shenk explores one of the most fruitful creative collaborations in history: that of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Part three, about the break-up the Beatles, comes to a conclusion that’s different than some of the theories you may have heard previously.

Yet, looking for concrete divisions in their labor, though not irrelevant, can certainly seem myopic. It feels, from Davies’ account, as though the two men were bound by a thousand invisible strings.

Davies looked on at the partners before Yoko, before The White Album — “the tension album” Paul said. But tension had always been key to their work. The strings connecting them hardly dissolved, even in the times when the collaboration was adversarial, the kind of exchange that Andre Agassi described when he said that, if he hadn’t faced Pete Sampras, he’d have a better record, “but I’d be less.” Picking up on that incisive line, Michael Kimmelman wrote in his review of Agassi’s book Open that “rivalry … [is] the heart of sports, and, for athletes, no matter how bitter or fierce, something strangely akin to love: two vulnerable protagonists for a time lifted up not despite their differences but because of them.”

And:

This is nasty stuff. But the opposite of intimacy isn’t conflict. It’s indifference. The relationship between Paul and John had always been a tug of war — and that hardly stopped when they ceased to collaborate directly. Asked what he thought Paul would make of his first solo album, Lennon said, “I think it’ll probably scare him into doing something decent, and then he’ll scare me into doing something decent, like that.”

I’ve said it before: love and hate are the same emotion. (via @tcarmody)