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Discussion in 'OFF TOPIC' started by Prime Time, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. Prime Time

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    Feb 9, 2014
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    Cumberland, Maryland
  2. Prime Time

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    Cumberland, Maryland
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  3. Mojo Ram

    Horns for life
    Moderator 2017 Survivor Co-Champion
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    Feb 3, 2013
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    #183 Mojo Ram, Jun 26, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014
    I'm a big GYBE fan.
    No synths, just electric guitars, bass guitars, real strings, drums, percussion and some tape.

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  4. thirteen28

    I like pizza.
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    Jan 15, 2013
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    Austin, Texas
    It's too bad I can only post the trailer for this. If you haven't seen 'The History of the Eagles', you need to. One of the best made rockumentaires I've ever seen.

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  5. Prime Time

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    Feb 9, 2014
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    Cumberland, Maryland
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  6. Prime Time

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  7. Prime Time

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  8. Prime Time

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    I've always loved the Beatles and John Lennon(Yoko not so much). This interview was done a few months before John was murdered. It is a loooooooooong interview so if you're interested, pour yourself a cup of coffee or get a couple of beers and enjoy it.
    Playboy Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono:
    Published in January 1981 issue
    Interviewed by David Sheff, September 1980
    Article ©1981 Playboy Press

    PLAYBOY: "The word is out: John Lennon and Yoko Ono are back in the studio, recording again for the first time since 1975, when they vanished from public view. Let's start with you, John. What have you been doing?"
    LENNON: "I've been baking bread and looking after the baby."

    PLAYBOY: "With what secret projects going on in the basement?"

    LENNON: "That's like what everyone else who has asked me that question over the last few years says. 'But what else have you been doing?' To which I say, 'Are you kidding?' Because bread and babies, as every housewife knows, is a full-time job. After I made the loaves, I felt like I had conquered something. But as I watched the bread being eaten, I thought, Well, Jesus, don't I get a gold record or knighted or nothing?"

    PLAYBOY: "Why did you become a househusband?"

    LENNON: "There were many reasons. I had been under obligation or contract from the time I was 22 until well into my 30s. After all those years, it was all I knew. I wasn't free. I was boxed in. My contract was the physical manifestation of being in prison. It was more important to face myself and face that reality than to continue a life of rock 'n' roll... and to go up and down with the whims of either your own performance or the public's opinion of you. Rock 'n' roll was not fun anymore. I chose not to take the standard options in my business... going to Vegas and singing your great hits, if you're lucky, or going to hell, which is where Elvis went."

    ONO: "John was like an artist who is very good at drawing circles. He sticks to that and it becomes his label. He has a gallery to promote that. And the next year, he will do triangles or something. It doesn't reflect his life at all. When you continue doing the same thing for ten years, you get a prize for having done it."

    LENNON: "You get the big prize when you get cancer and you have been drawing circles and triangles for ten years. I had become a craftsman and I could have continued being a craftsman. I respect craftsmen, but I am not interested in becoming one."

    ONO: "Just to prove that you can go on dishing out things."

    PLAYBOY: "You're talking about records, of course."

    LENNON: "Yeah, to churn them out because I was expected to, like so many people who put out an album every six months because they're supposed to."

    PLAYBOY: "Would you be referring to Paul McCartney?"

    LENNON: "Not only Paul. But I had lost the initial freedom of the artist by becoming enslaved to the image of what the artist is supposed to do. A lot of artists kill themselves because of it, whether it is through drink, like Dylan Thomas, or through insanity, like Van Gogh, or through V.D., like Gauguin."

    PLAYBOY: "Most people would have continued to churn out the product. How were you able to see a way out?"

    LENNON: "Most people don't live with Yoko Ono."

    PLAYBOY: "Which means?"

    LENNON: "Most people don't have a companion who will tell the truth and refuse to live with a bullcrap artist, which I am pretty good at. I can bullcrap myself and everybody around. Yoko: That's my answer."

    PLAYBOY: "What did she do for you?"

    LENNON: "She showed me the possibility of the alternative. 'You don't have to do this.' 'I don't? Really? But-but-but-but-but...' Of course, it wasn't that simple and it didn't sink in overnight. It took constant reinforcement. Walking away is much harder than carrying on. I've done both. On demand and on schedule, I had turned out records from 1962 to 1975. Walking away seemed like what the guys go through at 65, when suddenly they're supposed to not exist anymore and they're sent out of the office..." (knocks on the desk three times) "'Your life is over. Time for golf.'"

    PLAYBOY: "Yoko, how did you feel about John's becoming a househusband?"

    ONO: "When John and I would go out, people would come up and say, 'John, what are you doing?' but they never asked about me, because, as a woman, I wasn't supposed to be doing anything."

    LENNON: "When I was cleaning the cat crap and feeding Sean, she was sitting in rooms full of smoke with men in three-piece suits that they couldn't button."

    ONO: "I handled the business: old business... Apple, Maclen," (the Beatles' record company and publishing company, respectively) "and new investments."

    LENNON: "We had to face the business. It was either another case of asking some daddy to come solve our business or having one of us do it. Those lawyers were getting a quarter of a million dollars a year to sit around a table and eat salmon at the Plaza. Most of them didn't seem interested in solving the problems. Every lawyer had a lawyer. Each Beatle had four or five people working. So we felt we had to look after that side of the business and get rid of it and deal with it before we could start dealing with our own life. And the only one of us who has the talent or the ability to deal with it on that level is Yoko."

    PLAYBOY: "Did you have experience handling business matters of that proportion?"

    ONO: "I learned. The law is not a mystery to me anymore. Politicians are not a mystery to me. I'm not scared of all that establishment anymore. At first, my own accountant and my own lawyer could not deal with the fact that I was telling them what to do."

    LENNON: "There was a bit of an attitude that this is John's wife, but surely she can't really be representing him."

    ONO: "A lawyer would send a letter to the directors, but instead of sending it to me, he would send it to John or send it to my lawyer. You'd be surprised how much insult I took from them initially. There was all this 'But you don't know anything about law; I can't talk to you.' I said, 'All right, talk to me in the way I can understand it. I am a director, too.'"

    LENNON: "They can't stand it. But they have to stand it, because she is who represents us." (chuckles) "They're all male, you know, just big and fat, vodka lunch, shouting males, like trained dogs, trained to attack all the time. Recently, she made it possible for us to earn a large sum of money that benefited all of them and they fought and fought not to let her do it, because it was her idea and she was a woman and she was not a professional. But she did it, and then one of the guys said to her, 'Well, Lennon does it again.' But Lennon didn't have anything to do with it."

    PLAYBOY: "Why are you returning to the studio and public life?"

    LENNON: "You breathe in and you breathe out. We feel like doing it and we have something to say. Also, Yoko and I attempted a few times to make music together, but that was a long time ago and people still had the idea that the Beatles were some kind of sacred thing that shouldn't step outside its circle. It was hard for us to work together then.

    We think either people have forgotten or they have grown up by now, so we can make a second foray into that place where she and I are together, making music... simply that. It's not like I'm some wondrous, mystic prince from the rock-'n'-roll world dabbling in strange music with this exotic, Oriental dragon lady, which was the picture projected by the press before."

    PLAYBOY: "Some people have accused you of playing to the media. First you become a recluse, then you talk selectively to the press because you have a new album coming out."

    LENNON: "That's ridiculous. People always said John and Yoko would do anything for the publicity. In the Newsweek article," (September 29, 1980) "it says the reporter asked us, 'Why did you go underground?' Well, she never asked it that way and I didn't go underground. I just stopped talking to the press. It got to be pretty funny. I was calling myself Greta Hughes or Howard Garbo through that period. But still the gossip items never stopped. We never stopped being in the press, but there seemed to be more written about us when we weren't talking to the press than when we were."

    PLAYBOY: "How do you feel about all the negative press that's been directed through the years at Yoko, your 'dragon lady,' as you put it?"

    LENNON: "We are both sensitive people and we were hurt a lot by it. I mean, we couldn't understand it. When you're in love, when somebody says something like, 'How can you be with that woman?' you say, 'What do you mean? I am with this goddess of love, the fulfillment of my whole life. Why are you saying this? Why do you want to throw a rock at her or punish me for being in love with her?' Our love helped us survive it, but some of it was pretty violent. There were a few times when we nearly went under, but we managed to survive and here we are." (looks upward) "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

    PLAYBOY: "But what about the charge that John Lennon is under Yoko's spell, under her control?"

    LENNON: "Well, that's rubbish, you know. Nobody controls me. I'm uncontrollable. The only one who controls me is me, and that's just barely possible."

    PLAYBOY: "Still, many people believe it."

    LENNON: "Listen, if somebody's gonna impress me, whether it be a Maharishi or a Yoko Ono, there comes a point when the emperor has no clothes. There comes a point when I will see. So for all you folks out there who think that I'm having the wool pulled over my eyes, well, that's an insult to me. Not that you think less of Yoko, because that's your problem. What I think of her is what counts! Because... freak you, brother and sister... you don't know what's happening. I'm not here for you. I'm here for me and her and the baby!"

    ONO: "Of course, it's a total insult to me..."

    LENNON: "Well, you're always insulted, my dear wife. It's natural..."

    ONO: "Why should I bother to control anybody?"

    LENNON: "She doesn't need me."

    ONO: "I have my own life, you know."

    LENNON: "She doesn't need a Beatle. Who needs a Beatle?"

    ONO: "Do people think I'm that much of a con? John lasted two months with the Maharishi. Two months. I must be the biggest con in the world, because I've been with him 13 years."

    LENNON: "But people do say that."

    PLAYBOY: "That's our point. Why?"

    LENNON: "They want to hold on to something they never had in the first place. Anybody who claims to have some interest in me as an individual artist or even as part of the Beatles has absolutely misunderstood everything I ever said if they can't see why I'm with Yoko. And if they can't see that, they don't see anything. They're just jacking off to... it could be anybody. Mick Jagger or somebody else. Let them go jack off to Mick Jagger, OK? I don't need it."

    PLAYBOY: "He'll appreciate that."

    LENNON: "I absolutely don't need it. Let them chase Wings. Just forget about me. If that's what you want, go after Paul or Mick. I ain't here for that. If that's not apparent in my past, I'm saying it in black and green, next to all the tits and asses on page 196. Go play with the other boys. Don't bother me. Go play with the Rolling Wings."

    PLAYBOY: "Do you..."

    LENNON: "No, wait a minute. Let's stay with this a second; sometimes I can't let go of it." (He is on his feet, climbing up the refrigerator) "Nobody ever said anything about Paul's having a spell on me or my having one on Paul! They never thought that was abnormal in those days, two guys together, or four guys together! Why didn't they ever say, 'How come those guys don't split up? I mean, what's going on backstage? What is this Paul and John business? How can they be together so long?'

    We spent more time together in the early days than John and Yoko: the four of us sleeping in the same room, practically in the same bed, in the same truck, living together night and day, eating, crapping and pissing together! All right? Doing everything together! Nobody said a damn thing about being under a spell. Maybe they said we were under the spell of Brian Epstein or George Martin." (the Beatles' first manager and producer, respectively) "There's always somebody who has to be doing something to you. You know, they're congratulating the Stones on being together 112 years. Whoooopee!

    At least Charlie and Bill still got their families. In the Eighties, they'll be asking, 'Why are those guys still together? Can't they hack it on their own? Why do they have to be surrounded by a gang? Is the little leader scared somebody's gonna knife him in the back?' That's gonna be the question. That's-a-gonna be the question! They're gonna look back at the Beatles and the Stones and all those guys as relics. The days when those bands were just all men will be on the newsreels, you know.

    They will be showing pictures of the guy with lipstick wriggling his ass and the four guys with the evil black make-up on their eyes trying to look raunchy. That's gonna be the joke in the future, not a couple singing together or living and working together. It's all right when you're 16, 17, 18 to have male companions and idols, OK? It's tribal and it's gang and it's fine. But when it continues and you're still doing it when you're 40, that means you're still 16 in the head."

    PLAYBOY: "Let's start at the beginning. Tell us the story of how the wondrous mystic prince and the exotic Oriental dragon lady met."

    LENNON: "It was in 1966 in England. I'd been told about this 'event'... this Japanese avant-garde artist coming from America. I was looking around the gallery and I saw this ladder and climbed up and got a look in this spyglass on the top of the ladder... you feel like a fool... and it just said, 'Yes.' Now, at the time, all the avant-garde was smash the piano with a hammer and break the sculpture and anti-, anti-, anti-, anti-, anti. It was all boring negative crap, you know. And just that Yes made me stay in a gallery full of apples and nails.

    There was a sign that said, Hammer A Nail In, so I said, 'Can I hammer a nail in?' But Yoko said no, because the show wasn't opening until the next day. But the owner came up and whispered to her, 'Let him hammer a nail in. You know, he's a millionaire. He might buy it.' And so there was this little conference, and finally she said, 'OK, you can hammer a nail in for five shillings.' So smartass says, 'Well, I'll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in.' And that's when we really met. That's when we locked eyes and she got it and I got it and, as they say in all the interviews we do, the rest is history."

    PLAYBOY: "What happened next?"

    LENNON: "Of course, I was a Beatle, but things had begun to change. In 1966, just before we met, I went to Almeria, Spain, to make the movie 'How I Won the War.' It did me a lot of good to get away. I was there six weeks. I wrote 'Strawberry Fields Forever' there, by the way. It gave me time to think on my own, away from the others. From then on, I was looking for somewhere to go, but I didn't have the nerve to really step out on the boat by myself and push it off. But when I fell in love with Yoko, I knew, My God, this is different from anything I've ever known. This is something other. This is more than a hit record, more than gold, more than everything. It is indescribable."

    PLAYBOY: "Were falling in love with Yoko and wanting to leave the Beatles connected?"

    LENNON: "As I said, I had already begun to want to leave, but when I met Yoko is like when you meet your first woman. You leave the guys at the bar. You don't go play football anymore. You don't go play snooker or billiards. Maybe some guys do it on Friday night or something, but once I found the woman, the boys became of no interest whatsoever other than being old school friends. 'Those wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine.' We got married three years later, in 1969. That was the end of the boys. And it just so happened that the boys were well known and weren't just local guys at the bar. Everybody got so upset over it. There was a lot of crap thrown at us. A lot of hateful stuff."

    ONO: "Even now, I just read that Paul said, 'I understand that he wants to be with her, but why does he have to be with her all the time?'"

    LENNON: "Yoko, do you still have to carry that cross? That was years ago."

    ONO: "No, no, no. He said it recently. I mean, what happened with John is like, I sort of went to bed with this guy that I liked and suddenly the next morning, I see these three in-laws, standing there."

    LENNON: "I've always thought there was this underlying thing in Paul's 'Get Back.' When we were in the studio recording it, every time he sang the line 'Get back to where you once belonged,' he'd look at Yoko."

    PLAYBOY: "Are you kidding?"

    LENNON: "No. But maybe he'll say I'm paranoid."

    (the next portion of the interview took place with Lennon alone)

    PLAYBOY: "This may be the time to talk about those 'in-laws,' as Yoko put it. John, you've been asked this a thousand times, but why is it so unthinkable that the Beatles might get back together to make some music?"

    LENNON: "Do you want to go back to high school? Why should I go back ten years to provide an illusion for you that I know does not exist? It cannot exist."

    PLAYBOY: "Then forget the illusion. What about just to make some great music again? Do you acknowledge that the Beatles made great music?"

    LENNON: "Why should the Beatles give more? Didn't they give everything on God's earth for ten years? Didn't they give themselves? You're like the typical sort of love-hate fan who says, 'Thank you for everything you did for us in the Sixties... would you just give me another shot? Just one more miracle?'"

    PLAYBOY: "We're not talking about miracles... just good music."

    LENNON: "When Rodgers worked with Hart and then worked with Hammerstein, do you think he should have stayed with one instead of working with the other? Should Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis have stayed together because I used to like them together? What is this game of doing things because other people want it? The whole Beatle idea was to do what you want, right? To take your own responsibility."

    PLAYBOY: "Alright, but get back to the music itself. You don't agree that the Beatles created the best rock 'n roll that's been produced?"

    LENNON: "I don't. The Beatles, you see... I'm too involved in them artistically. I cannot see them objectively. I cannot listen to them objectively. I'm dissatisfied with every record the Beatles ever freaking made. There ain't one of them I wouldn't remake... including all the Beatles records and all my individual ones. So I cannot possibly give you an assessment of what the Beatles are. When I was a Beatle, I thought we were the best freaking group in the god-damned world. And believing that is what made us what we were... whether we call it the best rock 'n roll group or the best pop group or whatever.

    But you play me those tracks today and I want to remake every damn one of them. There's not a single one... I heard 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' on the radio last night. It's abysmal, you know. The track is just terrible. I mean, it's great, but it wasn't made right, know what I mean? But that's the artistic trip, isn't it? That's why you keep going. But to get back to your original question about the Beatles and their music, the answer is that we did some good stuff and we did some bad stuff."

    PLAYBOY: "Many people feel that none of the songs Paul has done alone match the songs he did as a Beatle. Do you honestly feel that any of your songs on the Plastic Ono Band records will have the lasting imprint of 'Eleanor Rigby' or 'Strawberry Fields'?"

    LENNON: "'Imagine,' 'Love' and those Plastic Ono Band songs stand up to any song that was written when I was a Beatle. Now, it may take you 20 or 30 years to appreciate that, but the fact is, if you check those songs out, you will see that it is as good as any freaking stuff that was ever done."

    PLAYBOY: "It seems as if you're trying to say to the world, 'We were just a good band making some good music,' while a lot of the rest of the world is saying, 'It wasn't just some good music, it was the best.'"

    LENNON: "Well, if it was the best, so what?"

    PLAYBOY: "So..."

    LENNON: "It can never be again! Everyone always talks about a good thing coming to an end, as if life was over. But I'll be 40 when this interview comes out. Paul is 38. Elton John, Bob Dylan... we're all relatively young people. The game isn't over yet. Everyone talks in terms of the last record or the last Beatle concert... but, God willing, there are another 40 years of productivity to go. I'm not judging whether 'I am the Walrus' is better or worse than 'Imagine.' It is for others to judge. I am doing it. I do. I don't stand back and judge... I do."

    PLAYBOY: "You keep saying you don't want to go back ten years, that too much has changed. Don't you ever feel it would be interesting... never mind cosmic, just interesting... to get together, with all your new experiences, and cross your talents?"

    LENNON: "Wouldn't it be interesting to take Elvis back to his Sun Records period? I don't know. But I'm content to listen to his Sun Records. I don't want to dig him up out of the grave. The Beatles don't exist and can never exist again. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richard Starkey could put on a concert... but it can never be the Beatles singing 'Strawberry Fields' or 'I Am The Walrus' again, because we are not in our 20s. We cannot be that again, nor can the people who are listening."

    PLAYBOY: "But aren't you the one who is making it too important? What if it were just nostalgic fun? A high school reunion?"

    LENNON: "I never went to high school reunions. My thing is, Out of sight, out of mind. That's my attitude toward life. So I don't have any romanticism about any part of my past. I think of it only inasmuch as it gave me pleasure or helped me grow psychologically. That is the only thing that interests me about yesterday. I don't believe in yesterday, by the way. You know I don't believe in yesterday. I am only interested in what I am doing now."

    PLAYBOY: "What about the people of your generation, the ones who feel a certain kind of music and spirit died when the Beatles broke up?"

    LENNON: "If they didn't understand the Beatles and the Sixties then, what the freak could we do for them now? Do we have to divide the fish and the loaves for the multitudes again? Do we have to get crucified again? Do we have to do the walking on water again because a whole pile of dummies didn't see it the first time, or didn't believe it when they saw it? You know, that's what they're asking: 'Get off the cross. I didn't understand the first bit yet. Can you do that again?' No way. You can never go home. It doesn't exist."

    PLAYBOY: "Do you find that the clamor for a Beatles reunion has died down?"

    LENNON: "Well, I heard some Beatles stuff on the radio the other day and I heard 'Green Onion' ...no, 'Glass Onion,' I don't even know my own songs! I listened to it because it was a rare track..."

    PLAYBOY: "That was the one that contributed to the 'Paul McCartney is dead' uproar because of the lyric 'The walrus is Paul.'"

    LENNON: "Yeah. That line was a joke, you know. That line was put in partly because I was feeling guilty because I was with Yoko, and I knew I was finally high and dry. In a perverse way, I was sort of saying to Paul, 'Here, have this crumb, have this illusion, have this stroke... because I'm leaving you.' Anyway, it's a song they don't usually play.

    When a radio station has a Beatles weekend, they usually play the same ten songs... 'A Hard Day's Night,' 'Help!,' 'Yesterday,' 'Something,' 'Let It Be' ...you know, there's all that wealth of material, but we hear only ten songs. So the deejay says, 'I want to thank John, Paul, George and Ringo for not getting back together and spoiling a good thing.' I thought it was a good sign. Maybe people are catching on."

    PLAYBOY: "Aside from the millions you've been offered for a reunion concert, how did you feel about producer Lorne Michaels' generous offer of $3200 for appearing together on 'Saturday Night Live' a few years ago?"

    LENNON: "Oh, yeah. Paul and I were together watching that show. He was visiting us at our place in the Dakota. We were watching it and almost went down to the studio, just as a gag. We nearly got into a cab, but we were actually too tired."

    PLAYBOY: "How did you and Paul happen to be watching TV together?"

    LENNON: "That was a period when Paul just kept turning up at our door with a guitar. I would let him in, but finally I said to him, 'Please call before you come over. It's not 1956 and turning up at the door isn't the same anymore. You know, just give me a ring.' He was upset by that, but I didn't mean it badly. I just meant that I was taking care of a baby all day and some guy turns up at the door... But, anyway, back on that night, he and Linda walked in and he and I were just sitting there, watching the show, and we went, 'Ha-ha, wouldn't it be funny if we went down?' but we didn't."

    PLAYBOY: "Was that the last time you saw Paul?"

    LENNON: "Yes, but I didn't mean it like that."

    PLAYBOY: "We're asking because there's always a lot of speculation about whether the Fab Four are dreaded enemies or the best of friends."

    LENNON: "We're neither. I haven't seen any of the Beatles for I don't know how much time. Somebody asked me what I thought of Paul's last album and I made some remark like, I thought he was depressed and sad. But then I realized I hadn't listened to the whole damn thing. I heard one track... the hit 'Coming Up,' which I thought was a good piece of work. Then I heard something else that sounded like he was depressed.

    But I don't follow their work. I don't follow Wings, you know. I don't give a crap what Wings is doing, or what George's new album is doing, or what Ringo is doing. I'm not interested, no more than I am in what Elton John or Bob Dylan is doing. It's not callousness, it's just that I'm too busy living my own life to be following what other people are doing, whether they're the Beatles or guys I went to college with or people I had intense relationships with before I met the Beatles."

    PLAYBOY: "Besides 'Coming Up,' what do you think of Paul's work since he left the Beatles?"

    LENNON: "I kind of admire the way Paul started back from scratch, forming a new band and playing in small dance halls, because that's what he wanted to do with the Beatles... he wanted us to go back to the dance halls and experience that again. But I didn't. That was one of the problems, in a way, that he wanted to relive it all or something... I don't know what it was. But I kind of admire the way he got off his pedestal. Now he's back on it again, but I mean, he did what he wanted to do. That's fine, but it's just not what I wanted to do."

    PLAYBOY: "What about the music?"

    LENNON: "'The Long and Winding Road' was the last gasp from him. Although I really haven't listened."

    PLAYBOY: "You say you haven't listened to Paul's work and haven't really talked to him since that night in your apartment..."

    LENNON: "Really talked to him, no, that's the operative word. I haven't really talked to him in ten years. Because I haven't spent time with him. I've been doing other things and so has he. You know, he's got 25 kids and about 20,000,000 records out. How can he spend time talking? He's always working."

    PLAYBOY: "Then let's talk about the work you did together. Generally speaking, what did each of you contribute to the Lennon-McCartney songwriting team?"

    LENNON: "Well, you could say that he provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the discords, a certain bluesy edge. There was a period when I thought I didn't write melodies, that Paul wrote those and I just wrote straight, shouting rock 'n roll. But, of course, when I think of some of my own songs... 'In My Life' or some of the early stuff... 'This Boy.' I was writing melody with the best of them.

    Paul had a lot of training, could play a lot of instruments. He'd say, 'Well, why don't you change that there? You've done that note 50 times in the song.' You know, I'll grab a note and ram it home. Then again, I'd be the one to figure out where to go with a song... a story that Paul would start. In a lot of the songs, my stuff is the middle-eight, the bridge."

    PLAYBOY: "For example?"

    LENNON: "Take 'Michelle.' Paul and I were staying somewhere, and he walked in and hummed the first few bars, with the words, you know-- (sings verse of 'Michelle') and he says, 'Where do I go from here?' I'd been listening to blues singer Nina Simone, who did something like 'I love you!' in one of her songs and that made me think of the middle-eight for 'Michelle.' (sings) 'I love you, I love you, I lo-ove you...'"

    PLAYBOY: "What was the difference in terms of lyrics?"

    LENNON: "I always had an easier time with lyrics, though Paul is quite a capable lyricist who doesn't think he is. So he doesn't go for it. Rather than face the problem, he would avoid it. 'Hey Jude' is a damn good set of lyrics. I made no contribution to the lyrics there. And a couple of lines he has come up with show indications of a good lyricist.

    But he just hasn't taken it anywhere. Still, in the early days, we didn't care about lyrics as long as the song had some vague theme... she loves you, he loves him, they all love each other. It was the hook, line and sound we were going for. That's still my attitude, but I can't leave lyrics alone. I have to make them make sense apart from the songs."

    PLAYBOY: "What's an example of a lyric you and Paul worked on together?"

    LENNON: "In 'We Can Work It Out,' Paul did the first half, I did the middle-eight. But you've got Paul writing, 'We can work it out/We can work it out' --real optimistic, y' know, and me, impatient: 'Life is very short and there's no time/For fussing and fighting, my friend....'"

    PLAYBOY: "Paul tells the story and John philosophizes."

    LENNON: "Sure. Well, I was always like that, you know. I was like that before the Beatles and after the Beatles. I always asked why people did things and why society was like it was. I didn't just accept it for what it was apparently doing. I always looked below the surface."

    PLAYBOY: "When you talk about working together on a single lyric like 'We Can Work It Out,' it suggests that you and Paul worked a lot more closely than you've admitted in the past. Haven't you said that you wrote most of your songs separately, despite putting both of your names on them?"

    LENNON: "Yeah, I was lying. (laughs) It was when I felt resentful, so I felt that we did everything apart. But, actually, a lot of the songs we did eyeball to eyeball."

    PLAYBOY: "But many of them were done apart, weren't they?

    LENNON: "Yeah. 'Sgt. Pepper' was Paul's idea, and I remember he worked on it a lot and suddenly called me to go into the studio, said it was time to write some songs. On 'Pepper,' under the pressure of only ten days, I managed to come up with 'Lucy in the Sky' and 'Day in the Life.' We weren't communicating enough, you see. And later on, that's why I got resentful about all that stuff. But now I understand that it was just the same competitive game going on."

    PLAYBOY: "But the competitive game was good for you, wasn't it?"

    LENNON: "In the early days. We'd make a record in 12 hours or something; they would want a single every three months and we'd have to write it in a hotel room or in a van. So the cooperation was functional as well as musical."

    PLAYBOY: "Don't you think that cooperation, that magic between you, is something you've missed in your work since?"

    LENNON: "I never actually felt a loss. I don't want it to sound negative, like I didn't need Paul, because when he was there, obviously, it worked. But I can't... it's easier to say what I gave to him than what he gave to me. And he'd say the same."

    PLAYBOY: "Just a quick aside, but while we're on the subject of lyrics and your resentment of Paul, what made you write 'How Do You Sleep?,' which contains lyrics such as 'Those freaks was right when they said you was dead' and 'The only thing you done was Yesterday/And since you've gone, you're just Another Day'?"

    LENNON: (smiles) "You know, I wasn't really feeling that vicious at the time. But I was using my resentment toward Paul to create a song, let's put it that way. He saw that it pointedly refers to him, and people kept hounding him about it. But, you know, there were a few digs on his album before mine. He's so obscure other people didn't notice them, but I heard them. I thought, Well, I'm not obscure, I just get right down to the nitty-gritty. So he'd done it his way and I did it mine. But as to the line you quoted, yeah, I think Paul died creatively, in a way."

    PLAYBOY: "That's what we were getting at: You say that what you've done since the Beatles stands up well, but isn't it possible that with all of you, it's been a case of the creative whole being greater than the parts?"

    LENNON: "I don't know whether this will gel for you: When the Beatles played in America for the first time, they played pure craftsmanship. Meaning they were already old hands. The jism had gone out of the performances a long time ago. In the same respect, the songwriting creativity had left Paul and me in the mid-Sixties. When we wrote together in the early days, it was like the beginning of a relationship. Lots of energy. In the 'Sgt. Pepper'- 'Abbey Road' period, the relationship had matured. Maybe had we gone on together, more interesting things would have come, but it couldn't have been the same."

    PLAYBOY: "Let's move on to Ringo. What's your opinion of him musically?"

    LENNON: "Ringo was a star in his own right in Liverpool before we even met. He was a professional drummer who sang and performed and had Ringo Starr-time and he was in one of the top groups in Britain but especially in Liverpool before we even had a drummer. So Ringo's talent would have come out one way or the other as something or other. I don't know what he would have ended up as, but whatever that spark is in Ringo that we all know but can't put our finger on... whether it is acting, drumming or singing I don't know... there is something in him that is projectable and he would have surfaced with or without the Beatles.

    Ringo is a damn good drummer. He is not technically good, but I think Ringo's drumming is underrated the same way Paul's bass playing is underrated. Paul was one of the most innovative bass players ever. And half the stuff that is going on now is directly ripped off from his Beatles period. He is an egomaniac about everything else about himself, but his bass playing he was always a bit coy about. I think Paul and Ringo stand up with any of the rock musicians. Not technically great... none of us are technical musicians. None of us could read music. None of us can write it. But as pure musicians, as inspired humans to make the noise, they are as good as anybody."

    PLAYBOY: "How about George's solo music?"

    LENNON: "I think 'All Things Must Pass' was all right. It just went on too long."

    PLAYBOY: "How did you feel about the lawsuit George lost that claimed the music to 'My Sweet Lord' is a rip-off of the Shirelles' hit 'He's So Fine?'"

    LENNON: "Well, he walked right into it. He knew what he was doing."

    PLAYBOY: "Are you saying he consciously plagiarized the song?"

    LENNON: "He must have known, you know. He's smarter than that. It's irrelevant, actually... only on a monetary level does it matter. He could have changed a couple of bars in that song and nobody could ever have touched him, but he just let it go and paid the price. Maybe he thought God would just sort of let him off."

    (At presstime, the court has found Harrison guilty of 'subconscious' plagiarism but has not yet ruled on damages.)

    PLAYBOY: "You actually haven't mentioned George much in this interview."

    LENNON: "Well, I was hurt by George's book, 'I, Me, Mine' ...so this message will go to him. He put a book out privately on his life that, by glaring omission, says that my influence on his life is absolutely zilch and nil. In his book, which is purportedly this clarity of vision of his influence on each song he wrote, he remembers every two-bit sax player or guitarist he met in subsequent years. I'm not in the book."

    PLAYBOY: "Why?"

    LENNON: "Because George's relationship with me was one of young follower and older guy. He's three or four years younger than me. It's a love/hate relationship and I think George still bears resentment toward me for being a daddy who left home. He would not agree with this, but that's my feeling about it. I was just hurt. I was just left out, as if I didn't exist. I don't want to be that egomaniacal, but he was like a disciple of mine when we started. I was already an art student when Paul and George were still in grammar school." (equivalent to high school in the U.S.)

    "There is a vast difference between being in high school and being in college and I was already in college and already had sexual relationships, already drank and did a lot of things like that. When George was a kid, he used to follow me and my first girlfriend, Cynthia.. who became my wife... around. We'd come out of art school and he'd be hovering around like those kids at the gate of the Dakota now. I remember the day he called to ask for help on 'Taxman,' one of his bigger songs. I threw in a few one-liners to help the song along, because that's what he asked for. He came to me because he couldn't go to Paul, because Paul wouldn't have helped him at that period. I didn't want to do it. I thought, Oh, no, don't tell me I have to work on George's stuff. It's enough doing my own and Paul's.

    But because I loved him and I didn't want to hurt him when he called me that afternoon and said, 'Will you help me with this song?' I just sort of bit my tongue and said OK. It had been John and Paul so long, he'd been left out because he hadn't been a songwriter up until then. As a singer, we allowed him only one track on each album. If you listen to the Beatles' first albums, the English versions, he gets a single track. The songs he and Ringo sang at first were the songs that used to be part of my repertoire in the dance halls. I used to pick songs for them from my repertoire... the easier ones to sing. So I am slightly resentful of George's book. But don't get me wrong. I still love those guys. The Beatles are over, but John, Paul, George and Ringo go on."

    PLAYBOY: "Didn't all four Beatles work on a song you wrote for Ringo in 1973?"

    LENNON: "'I'm the Greatest.' It was the Muhammad Ali line, of course. It was perfect for Ringo to sing. If I said, 'I'm the greatest,' they'd all take it so seriously. No one would get upset with Ringo singing it."

    PLAYBOY: "Did you enjoy playing with George and Ringo again?"

    LENNON: "Yeah, except when George and Billy Preston started saying, 'Let's form a group. Let's form a group.' I was embarrassed when George kept asking me. He was just enjoying the session and the spirit was very good, but I was with Yoko, you know. We took time out from what we were doing. The very fact that they would imagine I would form a male group without Yoko! It was still in their minds..."

    PLAYBOY: "Just to finish your favorite subject, what about the suggestion that the four of you put aside your personal feelings and regroup to give a mammoth concert for charity, some sort of giant benefit?"

    LENNON: "I don't want to have anything to do with benefits. I have been benefited to death."

    PLAYBOY: "Why?"

    LENNON: "Because they're always rip-offs. I haven't performed for personal gain since 1966, when the Beatles last performed. Every concert since then, Yoko and I did for specific charities, except for a Toronto thing that was a rock 'n roll revival. Every one of them was a mess or a rip-off. So now we give money to who we want. You've heard of tithing?"

    PLAYBOY: "That's when you give away a fixed percentage of your income."

    LENNON: "Right. I am just going to do it privately. I am not going to get locked into that business of saving the world on stage. The show is always a mess and the artist always comes off badly."

    PLAYBOY: "What about the Bangladesh concert, in which George and other people such as Dylan performed?"

    LENNON: "Bangladesh was ca-ca."

    PLAYBOY: "You mean because of all the questions that were raised about where the money went?"

    LENNON: "Yeah, right. I can't even talk about it, because it's still a problem. You'll have to check with Mother (Yoko) because she knows the ins and outs of it, I don't. But it's all a rip-off. So forget about it. All of you who are reading this, don't bother sending me all that garbage about, 'Just come and save the Indians, come and save the blacks, come and save the war veterans,' Anybody I want to save will be helped through our tithing, which is ten percent of whatever we earn."

    PLAYBOY: "But that doesn't compare with what one promoter, Sid Bernstein, said you could raise by giving a world-wide televised concert... playing separately, as individuals, or together, as the Beatles. He estimated you could raise over $200,000,000 in one day."

    LENNON: "That was a commercial for Sid Bernstein written with Jewish schmaltz and showbiz and tears, dropping on one knee. It was Al Jolson. OK. So I don't buy that. OK?"

    PLAYBOY: "But the fact is, $200,000,000 to a poverty-stricken country in South America..."

    LENNON: "Where do people get off saying the Beatles should give $200,000,000 to South America? You know, America has poured billions into places like that. It doesn't mean a damn thing. After they've eaten that meal, then what? It lasts for only a day. After the $200,000,000 is gone, then what? It goes round and round in circles. You can pour money in forever. After Peru, then Harlem, then Britain. There is no one concert. We would have to dedicate the rest of our lives to one world concert tour, and I'm not ready for it. Not in this lifetime, anyway."

    (Ono rejoins the conversation)

    PLAYBOY: "On the subject of your own wealth, the New York Post recently said you admitted to being worth over $150,000,000 and..."

    LENNON: "We never admitted anything."

    PLAYBOY: "The Post said you had."

    LENNON: "What the Post says... OK, so we are rich; so what?"

    PLAYBOY: "The question is, How does that jibe with your political philosophies? You're supposed to be socialists, aren't you?"

    LENNON: "In England, there are only two things to be, basically: You are either for the labor movement or for the capitalist movement. Either you become a right-wing Archie Bunker if you are in the class I am in, or you become an instinctive socialist, which I was. That meant I think people should get their false teeth and their health looked after, all the rest of it.

    But apart from that, I worked for money and I wanted to be rich. So what the hell... if that's a paradox, then I'm a socialist. But I am not anything. What I used to be is guilty about money. That's why I lost it, either by giving it away or by allowing myself to be screwed by so-called managers."

    PLAYBOY: "Whatever your politics, you've played the capitalist game very well, parlaying your Beatles royalties into real estate, livestock..."

    ONO: "There is no denying that we are still living in the capitalist world. I think that in order to survive and to change the world, you have to take care of yourself first. You have to survive yourself. I used to say to myself, I am the only socialist living here. (laughs) I don't have a penny. It is all John's, so I'm clean. But I was using his money and I had to face that hypocrisy. I used to think that money was obscene, that the artists didn't have to think about money.

    But to change society, there are two ways to go: through violence or the power of money within the system. A lot of people in the Sixties went underground and were involved in bombings and other violence. But that is not the way, definitely not for me. So to change the system... even if you are going to become a mayor or something... you need money."

    PLAYBOY: "To what extent do you play the game without getting caught up in it... money for the sake of money, in other words?"

    ONO: "There is a limit. It would probably be parallel to our level of security. Do you know what I mean? I mean the emotional-security level as well."

    PLAYBOY: "Has it reached that level yet?"

    ONO: "No, not yet. I don't know. It might have."

    PLAYBOY: "You mean with $150,000,000? Is that an accurate estimate?"

    ONO: "I don't know what we have. It becomes so complex that you need to have ten accountants working for two years to find out what you have. But let's say that we feel more comfortable now."

    PLAYBOY: "How have you chosen to invest your money?"

    ONO: "To make money, you have to spend money. But if you are going to make money, you have to make it with love. I love Egyptian art. I make sure to get all the Egyptian things, not for their value but for their magic power. Each piece has a certain magic power. Also with houses. I just buy ones we love, not the ones that people say are good investments."

    PLAYBOY: "The papers have made it sound like you are buying up the Atlantic Seaboard."

    ONO: "If you saw the houses, you would understand. They have become a good investment, but they are not an investment unless you sell them. We don't intend to sell. Each house is like a historic landmark and they're very beautiful."

    PLAYBOY: "Do you actually use all the properties?"

    ONO: "Most people have the park to go to and run in... the park is a huge place... but John and I were never able to go to the park together. So we have to create our own parks, you know."

    PLAYBOY: "We heard that you own $60,000,000 worth of dairy cows. Can that be true?"

    ONO: "I don't know. I'm not a calculator. I'm not going by figures. I'm going by excellence of things."

    LENNON: "Sean and I were away for a weekend and Yoko came over to sell this cow and I was joking about it. We hadn't seen her for days; she spent all her time on it. But then I read the paper that said she sold it for a quarter of a million dollars. Only Yoko could sell a cow for that much." (laughter)

    PLAYBOY: "For an artist, your business sense seems remarkable."

    ONO: "I was doing it just as a chess game. I love chess. I do everything like it's a chess game. Not on a Monopoly level... that's a bit more realistic. Chess is more conceptual."

    PLAYBOY: "John, do you really need all those houses around the country?"

    LENNON: "They're good business."

    PLAYBOY: "Why does anyone need $150,000,000? Couldn't you be perfectly content with $100,000,000? Or $1,000,000?"

    LENNON: "What would you suggest I do? Give everything away and walk the streets? The Buddhist says, 'Get rid of the possessions of the mind.' Walking away from all the money would not accomplish that. It's like the Beatles. I couldn't walk away from the Beatles. That's one possession that's still tagging along, right? If I walk away from one house or 400 houses, I'm not gonna escape it."

    PLAYBOY: "How do you escape it?"

    LENNON: "It takes time to get rid of all this garbage that I've been carrying around that was influencing the way I thought and the way I lived. It had a lot to do with Yoko, showing me that I was still possessed. I left physically when I fell in love with Yoko, but mentally it took the last ten years of struggling. I learned everything from her."

    PLAYBOY: "You make it sound like a teacher-pupil relationship."

    LENNON: "It is a teacher-pupil relationship. That's what people don't understand. She's the teacher and I'm the pupil. I'm the famous one, the one who's supposed to know everything, but she's my teacher. She's taught me everything I freaking know. She was there when I was nowhere, when I was the nowhere man. She's my Don Juan." (a reference to Carlos Castaneda's Yaqui Indian teacher) "That's what people don't understand. I'm married to freaking Don Juan, that's the hardship of it. Don Juan doesn't have to laugh; Don Juan doesn't have to be charming; Don Juan just is. And what goes on around Don Juan is irrelevant to Don Juan."

    PLAYBOY: "Yoko, how do you feel about being John's teacher?"

    ONO: "Well, he had a lot of experience before he met me, the kind of experience I never had, so I learned a lot from him, too. It's both ways. Maybe it's that I have strength, a feminine strength. Because women develop it... in a relationship, I think women really have the inner wisdom and they're carrying that while men have sort of the wisdom to cope with society, since they created it. Men never developed the inner wisdom; they didn't have time. So most men do rely on women's inner wisdom, whether they express that or not."

    PLAYBOY: "Is Yoko John's guru?"

    LENNON: "No, a Don Juan doesn't have a following. A Don Juan isn't in the newspaper and doesn't have disciples and doesn't proselytize."

    PLAYBOY: "How has she taught you?"

    LENNON: "When Don Juan said ...when Don Ono said, 'Get out! Because you're not getting it,' well, it was like being sent into the desert. And the reason she wouldn't let me back in was because I wasn't ready to come back in. I had to settle things within myself. When I was ready to come back in, she let me back in. And that's what I'm living with."

    PLAYBOY: "You're talking about your separation."

    LENNON: "Yes. We were separated in the early Seventies. She kicked me out. Suddenly, I was on a raft alone in the middle of the universe."

    PLAYBOY: "What happened?"

    LENNON: "Well, at first, I thought, Whoopee, whoopee! You know, bachelor life! Whoopee! And then I woke up one day and I thought, What is this? I want to go home! But she wouldn't let me come home. That's why it was 18 months apart instead of six months. We were talking all the time on the phone and I would say, 'I don't like this, I'm getting in trouble and I'd like to come home, please.' And she would say, 'You're not ready to come home.' So what do you say? OK, back to the bottle."

    PLAYBOY: "What did she mean, you weren't ready?"

    LENNON: "She has her ways. Whether they be mystical or practical. When she said it's not ready, it ain't ready."

    PLAYBOY: "Back to the bottle?"

    LENNON: "I was just trying to hide what I felt in the bottle. I was just insane. It was the lost weekend that lasted 18 months. I've never drunk so much in my life. I tried to drown myself in the bottle and I was with the heaviest drinkers in the business."

    PLAYBOY: "Such as?"

    LENNON: "Such as Harry Nilsson, Bobby Keyes, Keith Moon. We couldn't pull ourselves out. We were trying to kill ourselves. I think Harry might still be trying, poor bugger... God bless you, Harry, wherever you are... but, Jesus, you know, I had to get away from that, because somebody was going to die. Well, Keith did. It was like, who's going to die first? Unfortunately, Keith was the one."

    PLAYBOY: "Why the self-destruction?"

    LENNON: "For me, it was because of being apart. I couldn't stand it. They had their own reasons, and it was, Let's all drown ourselves together. From where I was sitting, it looked like that. Let's kill ourselves but do it like Errol Flynn, you know, the macho, male way. It's embarrassing for me to think about that period, because I made a big fool of myself... but maybe it was a good lesson for me. I wrote 'Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out' during that time. That's how I felt.

    It exactly expresses the whole period. For some reason, I always imagined Sinatra singing that one. I don't know why. It's kind of a Sinatraesque song, really. He would do a perfect job with it. Are you listening, Frank? You need a song that isn't a piece of nothing. Here's the one for you, the horn arrangement and everything's made for you. But don't ask me to produce it."

    PLAYBOY: "That must have been the time the papers came out with reports about Lennon running around town with a Tampax on his head."

    LENNON: "The stories were all so exaggerated, but... We were all in a restaurant, drinking, not eating, as usual at those gatherings, and I happened to go take a pee and there was a brand-new fresh Kotex, not Tampax, on the toilet. You know the old trick where you put a penny on your forehead and it sticks? I was a little high and I just picked it up and slapped it on and it stayed, you see. I walked out of the bathroom and I had a Kotex on my head. Big deal. Everybody went 'Ha-ha-ha' and it fell off, but the press blew it up."

    PLAYBOY: "Why did you kick John out, Yoko?"

    ONO: "There were many things. I'm what I call a 'moving on' kind of girl; there's a song on our new album about it. Rather than deal with problems in relationships, I've always moved on. That's why I'm one of the very few survivors as a woman, you know. Women tend to be more into men usually, but I wasn't..."

    LENNON: "Yoko looks upon men as assistants... Of varying degrees of intimacy, but basically assistants. And this one's going to take a pee." (he exits)

    ONO: "I have no comment on that. But when I met John, women to him were basically people around who were serving him. He had to open himself up and face me... and I had to see what he was going through. But I thought I had to move on again, because I was suffering being with John."

    PLAYBOY: "Why?"

    ONO: "The pressure from the public, being the one who broke up the Beatles and who made it impossible for them to get back together. My artwork suffered, too. I thought I wanted to be free from being Mrs. Lennon, so I thought it would be a good idea for him to go to L.A. and leave me alone for a while. I had put up with it for many years. Even early on, when John was a Beatle, we stayed in a room and John and I were in bed and the door was closed and all that, but we didn't lock the door and one of the Beatle assistants just walked in and talked to him as if I weren't there. It was mind-blowing. I was invisible. The people around John saw me as a terrible threat. I mean, I heard there were plans to kill me. Not the Beatles but the people around them."

    PLAYBOY: "How did that news affect you?"

    ONO: "The society doesn't understand that the woman can be castrated, too. I felt castrated. Before, I was doing all right, thank you. My work might not have been selling much, I might have been poorer, but I had my pride. But the most humiliating thing is to be looked at as a parasite."

    (Lennon rejoins the conversation)

    LENNON: "When Yoko and I started doing stuff together, we would hold press conferences and announce our whatevers... we're going to wear bags or whatever. And before this one press conference, one Beatle assistant in the upper echelon of Beatle assistants leaned over to Yoko and said, You know, you don't have to work. You've got enough money, now that you're Mrs. Lennon.' And when she complained to me about it, I couldn't understand what she was talking about. 'But this guy,' I'd say, 'He's just good old Charley, or whatever.

    He's been with us 20 years...' The same kind of thing happened in the studio. She would say to an engineer, 'I'd like a little more treble, a little more bass,' or 'There's too much of whatever you're putting on,' and they'd look at me and say, 'What did you say, John?' Those days I didn't even notice it myself. Now I know what she's talking about. In Japan, when I ask for a cup of tea in Japanese, they look at Yoko and ask, 'He wants a cup of tea?' in Japanese."

    ONO: "So a good few years of that kind of thing emasculates you. I had always been more macho than most guys I was with, in a sense. I had always been the breadwinner, because I always wanted to have the freedom and the control. Suddenly, I'm with somebody I can't possibly compete with on a level of earnings. Finally, I couldn't take it... or I decided not to take it any longer. I would have had the same difficulty even if I hadn't gotten involved with, ah...."

    LENNON: "John-- John is the name."

    ONO: "With John. But John wasn't just John. He was also his group and the people around them. When I say John, it's not just John..."

    LENNON: "That's John. J-O-H-N. From Johan, I believe."

    PLAYBOY: "So you made him leave?"

    ONO: "Yes."

    LENNON: She don't suffer fools gladly, even if she's married to him."

    PLAYBOY: "How did you finally get back together?"

    ONO: "It slowly started to dawn on me that John was not the trouble at all. John was a fine person. It was society that had become too much. We laugh about it now, but we started dating again. I wanted to be sure. I'm thankful to John's intelligence..."

    LENNON: "Now, get that, editors... you got that word?"

    ONO: "...that he was intelligent enough to know this was the only way that we could save our marriage, not because we didn't love each other but because it was getting too much for me. Nothing would have changed if I had come back as Mrs. Lennon again."

    PLAYBOY: "What did change?"

    ONO: "It was good for me to do the business and regain my pride about what I could do. And it was good to know what he needed, the role reversal that was so good for him."

    LENNON: "And we learned that it's better for the family if we are both working for the family, she doing the business and me playing mother and wife. We reordered our priorities. The number-one priority is her and the family. Everything else revolves around that."

    ONO: "It's a hard realization. These days, the society prefers single people. The encouragements are to divorce or separate or be single or gay... whatever. Corporations want singles-- they work harder if they don't have family ties. They don't have to worry about being home in the evenings or on the weekends. There's not much room for emotions about family or personal relationships. You know, the whole thing they say to women approaching 30 that if you don't have a baby in the next few years, you're going to be in trouble, you'll never be a mother, so you'll never be fulfilled in that way and..."

    LENNON: "Only Yoko was 73 when she had Sean."


    ONO: "So instead of the society discouraging children, since they are important for society, it should encourage them. It's the responsibility of everybody. But it is hard. A woman has to deny what she has, her womb, if she wants to make it. It seems that only the privileged classes can have families. Nowadays, maybe it's only the McCartneys and the Lennons or something."

    LENNON: "Everybody else becomes a worker/consumer."

    ONO: "And then Big Brother will decide. I hate to use the term Big Brother..."

    LENNON: "Too late. They've got it on tape." (laughs)

    ONO: "But, finally, the society..."

    LENNON: "Big Sister-- wait till she comes!"

    ONO: "The society will do away with the roles of men and women. Babies will be born in test tubes and incubators..."

    LENNON: "Then it's Aldous Huxley."

    ONO: "But we don't have to go that way. We don't have to deny any of our organs, you know."

    LENNON: "Some of my best friends are organs."

    ONO: "The new album..."

    LENNON: "Back to the album, very good."

    ONO: "The album fights these things. The messages are sort of old-fashioned. Family, relationships, children."

    PLAYBOY: "The album obviously reflects your new priorities. How have things gone for you since you made that decision?"

    LENNON: "We got back together, decided this was our life, that having a baby was important to us and that anything else was subsidiary to that. We worked hard for that child. We went through all hell trying to have a baby, through many miscarriages and other problems. He is what they call a love child in truth. Doctors told us we could never have a child. We almost gave up. 'Well, that's it, then, we can't have one.' We were told something was wrong with my sperm, that I abused myself so much in my youth that there was no chance.

    Yoko was 43, and so they said, no way. She has had too many miscarriages and when she was a young girl, there were no pills, so there were lots of abortions and miscarriages; her stomach must be like Kew Gardens in London. No way. But this Chinese acupuncturist in San Francisco said, 'You behave yourself. No drugs, eat well, no drink. You have child in 18 months.' And we said, 'But the English doctors said...' He said, 'Forget what they said. You have child.' We had Sean and sent the acupuncturist a Polaroid of him just before he died, God rest his soul."

    PLAYBOY: "Were there any problems because of Yoko's age?"

    LENNON: "Not because of her age but because of a screw-up in the hospital and the freaking price of fame. Somebody had made a transfusion of the wrong blood type into Yoko. I was there when it happened, and she starts to go rigid, and then shake, from the pain and the trauma. I run up to this nurse and say, 'Go get the doctor!' I'm holding on tight to Yoko while this guy gets to the hospital room. He walks in, hardly notices that Yoko is going through freaking convulsions, goes straight for me, smiles, shakes my hand and says, 'I've always wanted to meet you, Mr. Lennon, I always enjoyed your music.' I start screaming: 'My wife's dying and you wanna talk about my music!' Christ!"

    PLAYBOY: "Now that Sean is almost five, is he conscious of the fact that his father was a Beatle or have you protected him from your fame?"

    LENNON: "I haven't said anything. Beatles were never mentioned to him. There was no reason to mention it; we never played Beatle records around the house, unlike the story that went around that I was sitting in the kitchen for the past five years, playing Beatle records and reliving my past like some kind of Howard Hughes. He did see 'Yellow Submarine' at a friend's, so I had to explain what a cartoon of me was doing in a movie."

    PLAYBOY: "Does he have an awareness of the Beatles?"

    LENNON: "He doesn't differentiate between the Beatles and Daddy and Mommy. He thinks Yoko was a Beatle, too. I don't have Beatle records on the jukebox he listens to. He's more exposed to early rock 'n roll. He's into 'Hound Dog.' He thinks it's about hunting. Sean's not going to public school, by the way. We feel he can learn the three Rs when he wants to... or when the law says he has to, I suppose. I'm not going to fight it. Otherwise, there's no reason for him to be learning to sit still. I can't see any reason for it.

    Sean now has plenty of child companionship, which everybody says is important, but he also is with adults a lot. He's adjusted to both. The reason why kids are crazy is because nobody can face the responsibility of bringing them up. Everybody's too scared to deal with children all the time, so we reject them and send them away and torture them. The ones who survive are the conformists. Their bodies are cut to the size of the suits... the ones we label good. The ones who don't fit the suits either are put in mental homes or become artists."

    PLAYBOY: "Your son, Julian, from your first marriage must be in his teens. Have you seen him over the years?"

    LENNON: "Well, Cyn got possession, or whatever you call it. I got rights to see him on his holidays and all that business, and at least there's an open line still going. It's not the best relationship between father and son, but it is there. He's 17 now. Julian and I will have a relationship in the future. Over the years, he's been able to see through the Beatle image and to see through the image that his mother will have given him, subconsciously or consciously. He's interested in girls and autobikes now. I'm just sort of a figure in the sky, but he's obliged to communicate with me, even when he probably doesn't want to."

    PLAYBOY: "You're being very honest about your feelings toward him to the point of saying that Sean is your first child. Are you concerned about hurting him?"

    LENNON: "I'm not going to lie to Julian. Ninety percent of the people on this planet, especially in the West, were born out of a bottle of whiskey on a Saturday night, and there was no intent to have children. So 90 percent of us... that includes everybody... were accidents. I don't know anybody who was a planned child. All of us were Saturday-night specials. Julian is in the majority, along with me and everybody else. Sean is a planned child, and therein lies the difference. I don't love Julian any less as a child. He's still my son, whether he came from a bottle of whiskey or because they didn't have pills in those days. He's here, he belongs to me and he always will."

    PLAYBOY: "Yoko, your relationship with your daughter has been much rockier."

    ONO: "I lost Kyoko when she was about five. I was sort of an offbeat mother, but we had very good communication. I wasn't particularly taking care of her, but she was always with me... onstage or at gallery shows, whatever. When she was not even a year old, I took her onstage as an instrument-- an uncontrollable instrument, you know. My communication with her was on the level of sharing conversation and doing things. She was closer to my ex-husband because of that."

    PLAYBOY: "What happened when she was five?"

    ONO: "John and I got together and I separated from my ex-husband." (Tony Cox) "He took Kyoko away. It became a case of parent kidnapping and we tried to get her back."

    LENNON: "It was a classic case of men being macho. It turned into me and Allen Klein trying to dominate Tony Cox. Tony's attitude was, 'You got my wife, but you won't get my child.' In this battle, Yoko and the child were absolutely forgotten. I've always felt bad about it. It became a case of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral: Cox fled to the hills and hid out and the sheriff and I tracked him down. First we won custody in court. Yoko didn't want to go to court, but the men, Klein and I, did it anyway."

    ONO: "Allen called up one day, saying I won the court case. He gave me a piece of paper. I said, 'What is this piece of paper? Is this what I won? I don't have my child.' I knew that taking them to court would frighten them and, of course, it did frighten them. So Tony vanished. He was very strong, thinking that the capitalists, with their money and lawyers and detectives, were pursuing him. It made him stronger."

    LENNON: "We chased him all over the world. God knows where he went. So if you're reading this, Tony, let's grow up about it. It's gone. We don't want to chase you anymore, because we've done enough damage."

    ONO: "We also had private detectives chasing Kyoko, which I thought was a bad trip, too. One guy came to report, 'It was great! We almost had them. We were just behind them in a car, but they sped up and got away.' I went hysterical. 'What do you mean you almost got them? We are talking about my child!'"

    LENNON: "It was like we were after an escaped convict."

    PLAYBOY: "Were you so persistent because you felt you were better for Kyoko?"

    LENNON: "Yoko got steamed into a guilt thing that if she wasn't attacking them with detectives and police and the FBI, then she wasn't a good mother looking for her baby. She kept saying, 'Leave them alone, leave them alone,' but they said you can't do that."

    ONO: "For me, it was like they just disappeared from my life. Part of me left with them."

    PLAYBOY: "How old is she now?"

    ONO: "Seventeen, the same as John's son."

    PLAYBOY: "Perhaps when she gets older, she'll seek you out."

    ONO: "She is totally frightened. There was a time in Spain when a lawyer and John thought that we should kidnap her."

    LENNON: (sighing) "I was just going to commit hara-kiri first."

    ONO: "And we did kidnap her and went to court. The court did a very sensible thing... the judge took her into a room and asked her which one of us she wanted to go with. Of course, she said Tony. We had scared her to death. So now she must be afraid that if she comes to see me, she'll never see her father again."

    LENNON: "When she gets to be in her 20's, she'll understand that we were idiots and we know we were idiots. She might give us a chance."

    ONO: "I probably would have lost Kyoko even if it wasn't for John. If I had separated from Tony, there would have been some difficulty."

    LENNON: "I'll just half-kill myself."

    ONO: (to John) "Part of the reason things got so bad was because with Kyoko, it was you and Tony dealing. Men. With your son Julian, it was women... there was more understanding between me and Cyn."

    PLAYBOY: "Can you explain that?"

    ONO: "For example, there was a birthday party that Kyoko had and we were both invited, but John felt very uptight about it and he didn't go. He wouldn't deal with Tony. But we were both invited to Julian's party and we both went."

    LENNON: "Oh, God, it's all coming out."

    ONO: "Or like when I was invited to Tony's place alone, I couldn't go; but when John was invited to Cyn's, he did go."

    LENNON: "One rule for the men, one for the women."

    ONO: "So it was easier for Julian, because I was allowing it to happen."

    LENNON: "But I've said a million Hail Marys. What the hell else can I do?"

    PLAYBOY: "Yoko, after this experience, how do you feel about leaving Sean's rearing to John?"

    ONO: "I am very clear about my emotions in that area. I don't feel guilty. I am doing it in my own way. It may not be the same as other mothers, but I'm doing it the way I can do it. In general, mothers have a very strong resentment toward their children, even though there's this whole adulation about motherhood and how mothers really think about their children and how they really love them. I mean, they do, but it is not humanly possible to retain emotion that mothers are supposed to have within this society. Women are just too stretched out in different directions to retain that emotion. Too much is required of them. So I say to John..."

    LENNON: "I am her favorite husband..."

    ONO: "'I am carrying the baby nine months and that is enough, so you take care of it afterward.' It did sound like a crude remark, but I really believe that children belong to the society. If a mother carries the child and a father raises it, the responsibility is shared."

    PLAYBOY: "Did you resent having to take so much responsibility, John?"

    LENNON: "Well, sometimes, you know, she'd come home and say, 'I'm tired.' I'd say, only partly tongue in cheek, What the freak do you think I am? I'm 24 hours with the baby! Do you think that's easy?' I'd say, 'You're going to take some more interest in the child.' I don't care whether it's a father or a mother. When I'm going on about pimples and bones and which TV shows to let him watch, I would say, 'Listen, this is important. I don't want to hear about your $20,000,000 deal tonight!' (to Yoko) I would like both parents to take care of the children, but 'how' is a different matter."

    ONO: "Society should be more supportive and understanding."

    LENNON: "It's true. The saying 'You've come a long way, baby' applies more to me than to her. As Harry Nilsson says, 'Everything is the opposite of what it is, isn't it?' It's men who've come a long way from even contemplating the idea of equality. But although there is this thing called the women's movement, society just took a laxative and they've just farted. They haven't really had a good crap yet.

    The seed was planted sometime in the late Sixties, right? But the real changes are coming. I am the one who has come a long way. I was the pig. And it is a relief not to be a pig. The pressures of being a pig were enormous. I don't have any hankering to be looked upon as a sex object, a male, macho rock 'n roll singer. I got over that a long time ago. I'm not even interested in projecting that. So I like it to be known that, yes, I looked after the baby and I made bread and I was a househusband and I am proud of it. It's the wave of the future and I'm glad to be in on the forefront of that, too."

    ONO: "So maybe both of us learned a lot about how men and women suffer because of the social structure. And the only way to change it is to be aware of it. It sounds simple, but important things are simple."

    PLAYBOY: "John, does it take actually reversing roles with women to understand?"

    LENNON: "It did for this man. But don't forget, I'm the one who benefited the most from doing it. Now I can step back and say Sean is going to be five years old and I was able to spend his first five years with him and I am very proud of that. And come to think of it, it looks like I'm going to be 40 and life begins at 40-- so they promise. And I believe it, too. I feel fine and I'm very excited. It's like, you know, hitting 21, like, 'Wow, what's going to happen next?' Only this time we're together.

    ONO: "If two are gathered together, there's nothing you can't do."

    PLAYBOY: "What does the title of your new album, 'Double Fantasy,' mean?"

    LENNON: "It's a flower, a type of freesia, but what it means to us is that if two people picture the same image at the same time, that is the secret. You can be together but projecting two different images and either whoever's the stronger at the time will get his or her fantasy fulfilled or you will get nothing but mishmash."

    PLAYBOY: "You saw the news item that said you were putting your sex fantasies out as an album."

    LENNON: "Oh, yeah. That is like when we did the bed-in in Toronto in 1969. They all came charging through the door, thinking we were going to be screwing in bed. Of course, we were just sitting there with peace signs."

    PLAYBOY: "What was that famous bed-in all about?"

    LENNON: "Our life is our art. That's what the bed-ins were. When we got married, we knew our honeymoon was going to be public, anyway, so we decided to use it to make a statement. We sat in bed and talked to reporters for seven days. It was hilarious. In effect, we were doing a commercial for peace on the front page of the papers instead of a commercial for war."

    PLAYBOY: "You stayed in bed and talked about peace?"

    LENNON: "Yes. We answered questions. One guy kept going over the point about Hitler: 'What do you do about Fascists? How can you have peace when you've got a Hitler?' Yoko said, 'I would have gone to bed with him.' She said she'd have needed only ten days with him. People loved that one."

    ONO: "I said it facetiously, of course. But the point is, you're not going to change the world by fighting. Maybe I was naive about the ten days with Hitler. After all, it took 13 years with John Lennon." (she giggles)

    PLAYBOY: "What were the reports about your making love in a bag?"

    ONO: "We never made love in a bag. People probably imagined that we were making love. It was just, all of us are in a bag, you know. The point was the outline of the bag, you know, the movement of the bag, how much we see of a person, you know. But, inside, there might be a lot going on. Or maybe nothing's going on."

    PLAYBOY: "Briefly, what about the statement on the new album?"

    LENNON: "Very briefly, it's about very ordinary things between two people. The lyrics are direct. Simple and straight. I went through my Dylanesque period a long time ago with songs like 'I am the Walrus' ...the trick of never saying what you mean but giving the impression of something more. Where more or less can be read into it. It's a good game."

    PLAYBOY: "What are your musical preferences these days?"

    LENNON: "Well, I like all music, depending on what time of day it is. I don't like styles of music or people per se. I can't say I enjoy the Pretenders, but I like their hit record. I enjoy the B-52s, because I heard them doing Yoko. It's great. If Yoko ever goes back to her old sound, they'll be saying, 'Yeah, she's copying the B-52s.'"

    ONO: "We were doing a lot of the punk stuff a long time ago."

    PLAYBOY: "Lennon and Ono, the original punks."

    ONO: "You're right."

    PLAYBOY: "John, what's your opinion of the newer waves?"

    LENNON: "I love all this punky stuff. It's pure. I'm not, however, crazy about the people who destroy themselves."

    PLAYBOY: "You disagree with Neil Young's lyric in 'Rust Never Sleeps'-- 'It's better to burn out than to fade away....'"

    LENNON: "I hate it. It's better to fade away like an old soldier than to burn out. I don't appreciate worship of dead Sid Vicious or of dead James Dean or of dead John Wayne. It's the same thing. Making Sid Vicious a hero, Jim Morrison ...it's garbage to me. I worship the people who survive. Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo. They're saying John Wayne conquered cancer... he whipped it like a man.

    You know, I'm sorry that he died and all that. I'm sorry for his family, but he didn't whip cancer. It whipped him. I don't want Sean worshiping John Wayne or Sid Vicious. What do they teach you? Nothing. Death. Sid Vicious died for what? So that we might rock? I mean, it's garbage, you know. If Neil Young admires that sentiment so much, why doesn't he do it? Because he sure as hell faded away and came back many times, like all of us. No, thank you. I'll take the living and the healthy."

    PLAYBOY: "Do you listen to the radio?"

    LENNON: "Muzak or classical. I don't purchase records. I do enjoy listening to things like Japanese folk music or Indian music. My tastes are very broad. When I was a housewife, I just had Muzak on, background music, 'cuz it relaxes you."

    PLAYBOY: "Yoko?"

    ONO: "No."

    PLAYBOY: "Do you go out and buy records?"

    ONO: "Or read the newspaper or magazines or watch TV? No."

    PLAYBOY: "The inevitable question, John. Do you listen to your records?"

    LENNON: "Least of all my own."

    PLAYBOY: "Even your classics?"

    LENNON: "Are you kidding? For pleasure, I would never listen to them. When I hear them, I just think of the session. It's like an actor watching himself in an old movie. When I hear a song, I remember the Abbey Road studio, the session, who fought with whom, where I was sitting, banging the tambourine in the corner..."

    ONO: "In fact, we really don't enjoy listening to other people's work much. We sort of analyze everything we hear."

    PLAYBOY: "Yoko, were you a Beatles fan?"

    ONO: "No. Now I notice the songs, of course. In a restaurant, John will point out, 'Ahh, they're playing George' or something."

    PLAYBOY: "John, do you ever go out to hear music?"

    LENNON: "No, I'm not interested. I'm not a fan, you see. I might like Jerry Lee Lewis singing 'A Whole Lot a Shakin' on the record, but I'm not interested in seeing him perform it."

    PLAYBOY: "Your songs are performed more than most other songwriters. How does that feel?"

    LENNON: "I'm always proud and pleased when people do my songs. It gives me pleasure that they even attempt them, because a lot of my songs aren't that doable. I go to restaurants and the groups always play 'Yesterday.' I even signed a guy's violin in Spain after he played us 'Yesterday.' He couldn't understand that I didn't write the song. But I guess he couldn't have gone from table to table playing 'I am the Walrus.'"

    PLAYBOY: "How does it feel to have influenced so many people?"

    LENNON: "It wasn't really me or us. It was the times. It happened to me when I heard rock 'n roll in the Fifties. I had no idea about doing music as a way of life until rock 'n' roll hit me."

    PLAYBOY: "Do you recall what specifically hit you?"

    LENNON: "It was 'Rock Around the Clock,' I think. I enjoyed Bill Haley, but I wasn't overwhelmed by him. It wasn't until 'Heartbreak Hotel' that I really got into it."

    ONO: "I am sure there are people whose lives were affected because they heard Indian music or Mozart or Bach. More than anything, it was the time and the place when the Beatles came up. Something did happen there. It was a kind of chemical. It was as if several people gathered around a table and a ghost appeared. It was that kind of communication. So they were like mediums, in a way. It's not something you can force. It was the people, the time, their youth and enthusiasm."

    PLAYBOY: "For the sake of argument, we'll maintain that no other contemporary artist or group of artists moved as many people in such a profound way as the Beatles."

    LENNON: "But what moved the Beatles?"

    PLAYBOY: "You tell us."

    LENNON: "Alright. Whatever wind was blowing at the time moved the Beatles, too. I'm not saying we weren't flags on the top of a ship; but the whole boat was moving. Maybe the Beatles were in the crow's-nest, shouting, 'Land ho,' or something like that, but we were all in the same damn boat."

    ONO: "The Beatles themselves were a social phenomenon not that aware of what they were doing. In a way..."

    LENNON: (under his breath) "This Beatles talk bores me to death. Turn to page 196."

    ONO: "As I said, they were like mediums. They weren't conscious of all they were saying, but it was coming through them."

    PLAYBOY: "Why?"

    LENNON: "We tuned in to the message. That's all. I don't mean to belittle the Beatles when I say they weren't this, they weren't that. I'm just trying not to overblow their importance as separate from society. And I don't think they were more important than Glenn Miller or Woody Herman or Bessie Smith. It was our generation, that's all. It was Sixties music."

    PLAYBOY: "What do you say to those who insist that all rock since the Beatles has been the Beatles redone?"

    LENNON: "All music is rehash. There are only a few notes. Just variations on a theme. Try to tell the kids in the Seventies who were screaming to the Bee Gees that their music was just the Beatles redone. There is nothing wrong with the Bee Gees. They do a damn good job. There was nothing else going on then."

    PLAYBOY: "Wasn't alot of the Beatles' music at least more intelligent?"

    LENNON: "The Beatles were more intellectual, so they appealed on that level, too. But the basic appeal of the Beatles was not their intelligence. It was their music. It was only after some guy in the 'London Times' said there were Aeolian cadences in 'It Won't Be Long' that the middle classes started listening to it... because somebody put a tag on it."

    PLAYBOY: "Did you put Aeolian cadences in 'It Won't Be Long?'"

    LENNON: "To this day, I don't have any idea what they are. They sound like exotic birds."

    PLAYBOY: "How did you react to the misinterpretations of your songs?"

    LENNON: "For instance?"

    PLAYBOY: "The most obvious is the 'Paul is dead' fiasco. You already explained the line in 'Glass Onion.' What about the line in 'I am the Walrus'... (correction: Strawberry Fields Forever) ...'I buried Paul'?"

    LENNON: "I said 'Cranberry sauce.' That's all I said. Some people like ping-pong, other people like digging over graves. Some people will do anything rather than be here now."

    PLAYBOY: "What about the chant at the end of the song: Smoke pot, smoke pot, everybody smoke pot'?"

    LENNON: "No, no, no. I had this whole choir saying, 'Everybody's got one, everybody's got one.' But when you get 30 people, male and female, on top of 30 cellos and on top of the Beatles' rock 'n roll rhythm section, you can't hear what they're saying."

    PLAYBOY: "What does 'everybody got'?"

    LENNON: "Anything. You name it. One penis, one vagina, one icehole-- you name it."

    PLAYBOY: "Did it trouble you when the interpretations of your songs were destructive, such as when Charles Manson claimed that your lyrics were messages to him?"

    LENNON: "No. It has nothing to do with me. It's like that guy, Son of Sam, who was having these talks with the dog. Manson was just an extreme version of the people who came up with the 'Paul is dead' thing or who figured out that the initials to 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' were LSD and concluded I was writing about acid."

    PLAYBOY: "Where did 'Lucy in the Sky' come from?"

    LENNON: "My son Julian came in one day with a picture he painted about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,' Simple."

    PLAYBOY: "The other images in the song weren't drug-inspired?"

    LENNON: "The images were from 'Alice in Wonderland.' It was Alice in the boat. She is buying an egg and it turns into Humpty Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns into a sheep and the next minute they are rowing in a rowing boat somewhere and I was visualizing that. There was also the image of the female who would someday come save me... a 'girl with kaleidoscope eyes' who would come out of the sky. It turned out to be Yoko, though I hadn't met Yoko yet. So maybe it should be 'Yoko in the Sky with Diamonds.'"

    PLAYBOY: "Do you have any interest in the pop historians analyzing the Beatles as a cultural phenomenon?"

    LENNON: "It's all equally irrelevant. Mine is to do and other people's is to record, I suppose. Does it matter how many drugs were in Elvis' body? I mean, Brian Epstein's sex life will make a nice 'Hollywood Babylon' someday, but it is irrelevant."

    PLAYBOY: "What started the rumors about you and Epstein?"

    LENNON: "I went on holiday to Spain with Brian... which started all the rumors that he and I were having a love affair. Well, it was almost a love affair, but not quite. It was never consummated. But we did have a pretty intense relationship. And it was my first experience with someone I knew was a homosexual. He admitted it to me. We had this holiday together because Cyn was pregnant and we left her with the baby and went to Spain. Lots of funny stories, you know. We used to sit in cafs and Brian would look at all the boys and I would ask, 'Do you like that one? Do you like this one?' It was just the combination of our closeness and the trip that started the rumors."

    PLAYBOY: "It's interesting to hear you talk about your old songs such as 'Lucy in the Sky' and 'Glass Onion.' Will you give some brief thoughts on some of our favorites?"

    LENNON: "Right."

    PLAYBOY: "Let's start with 'In My Life.'"

    LENNON: "It was the first song I wrote that was consciously about my life. (sings) 'There are places I'll remember/ all my life though some have changed...' Before, we were just writing songs a la Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly-- pop songs with no more thought to them than that. The words were almost irrelevant. 'In My Life' started out as a bus journey from my house at 250 Menlove Avenue to town, mentioning all the places I could recall. I wrote it all down and it was boring. So I forgot about it and laid back and these lyrics started coming to me about friends and lovers of the past. Paul helped with the middle-eight."

    PLAYBOY: "'Yesterday.'"

    LENNON: "Well, we all know about 'Yesterday.' I have had so much accolade for 'Yesterday.' That is Paul's song, of course, and Paul's baby. Well done. Beautiful-- and I never wished I had written it."

    PLAYBOY: "'With a Little Help from My Friends.'"

    LENNON: "This is Paul, with a little help from me. 'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you, but I know it's mine...' is mine."

    PLAYBOY: "'I am the Walrus.'"

    LENNON: "The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend. The second line was written on the next acid trip the next weekend, and it was filled in after I met Yoko. Part of it was putting down Hare Krishna. All these people were going on about Hare Krishna, Allen Ginsberg in particular. The reference to 'Element'ry penguin' is the elementary, naive attitude of going around chanting, 'Hare Krishna,' or putting all your faith in any one idol. I was writing obscurely, a la Dylan, in those days."

    PLAYBOY: "The song is very complicated, musically."

    LENNON: "It actually was fantastic in stereo, but you never hear it all. There was too much to get on. It was too messy a mix. One track was live BBC Radio-- Shakespeare or something-- I just fed in whatever lines came in."

    PLAYBOY: "What about the walrus itself?"

    LENNON: "It's from 'The Walrus and the Carpenter.' 'Alice in Wonderland.' To me, it was a beautiful poem. It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist and social system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles' work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, crap, I picked the wrong guy. I should have said, 'I am the carpenter.' But that wouldn't have been the same, would it? (singing) 'I am the carpenter....'"

    PLAYBOY: "How about 'She Came in Through the Bathroom Window'?"

    LENNON: "That was written by Paul when we were in New York forming Apple, and he first met Linda. Maybe she's the one who came in the window. She must have. I don't know. Somebody came in the window."

    PLAYBOY: "'I Feel Fine.'"

    LENNON: "That's me, including the guitar lick with the first feedback ever recorded. I defy anybody to find an earlier record... unless it is some old blues record from the Twenties... with feedback on it."

    PLAYBOY: "'When I'm Sixty-Four.'"

    LENNON: "Paul completely. I would never even dream of writing a song like that. There are some areas I never think about and that is one of them."

    PLAYBOY: "'A Day in the Life.'"

    LENNON: "Just as it sounds: I was reading the paper one day and I noticed two stories. One was the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash. On the next page was a story about 4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. In the streets, that is. They were going to fill them all. Paul's contribution was the beautiful little lick in the song 'I'd love to turn you on.' I had the bulk of the song and the words, but he contributed this little lick floating around in his head that he couldn't use for anything. I thought it was a damn good piece of work."

    PLAYBOY: "May we continue with some of the ones that seem more personal and see what reminiscences they inspire?"

    LENNON: "Reminisce away."

    PLAYBOY: "For no reason whatsoever, let's start with 'I Wanna Be Your Man.'"

    LENNON: "Paul and I finished that one off for the Stones. We were taken down by Brian to meet them at the club where they were playing in Richmond. They wanted a song and we went to see what kind of stuff they did. Paul had this bit of a song and we played it roughly for them and they said, 'Yeah, OK, that's our style.' But it was only really a lick, so Paul and I went off in the corner of the room and finished the song off while they were all sitting there, talking. We came back and Mick and Keith said, 'Jesus, look at that.

    They just went over there and wrote it.' You know, right in front of their eyes. We gave it to them. It was a throwaway. Ringo sang it for us and the Stones did their version. It shows how much importance we put on them. We weren't going to give them anything great, right? That was the Stones' first record. Anyway, Mick and Keith said, 'If they can write a song so easily, we should try it.' They say it inspired them to start writing together."

    PLAYBOY: "How about 'Strawberry Fields Forever'?"

    LENNON: "Strawberry Fields is a real place. After I stopped living at Penny Lane, I moved in with my auntie who lived in the suburbs in a nice semidetached place with a small garden and doctors and lawyers and that ilk living around... not the poor slummy kind of image that was projected in all the Beatles stories. In the class system, it was about half a class higher than Paul, George and Ringo, who lived in government-subsidized housing.

    We owned our house and had a garden. They didn't have anything like that. Near that home was Strawberry Fields, a house near a boys' reformatory where I used to go to garden parties as a kid with my friends Nigel and Pete. We would go there and hang out and sell lemonade bottles for a penny. We always had fun at Strawberry Fields. So that's where I got the name. But I used it as an image. Strawberry Fields forever."

    PLAYBOY: "And the lyrics, for instance: 'Living is easy...'"

    LENNON: (singing) "'...with eyes closed. Misunderstanding all you see.' It still goes, doesn't it? Aren't I saying exactly the same thing now? The awareness apparently trying to be expressed is-- let's say in one way I was always hip. I was hip in kindergarten. I was different from the others. I was different all my life. The second verse goes, 'No one I think is in my tree.' Well, I was too shy and self-doubting.

    Nobody seems to be as hip as me is what I was saying. Therefore, I must be crazy or a genius-- 'I mean it must be high or low,' the next line. There was something wrong with me, I thought, because I seemed to see things other people didn't see. I thought I was crazy or an egomaniac for claiming to see things other people didn't see. As a child, I would say, 'But this is going on!' and everybody would look at me as if I was crazy. I always was so psychic or intuitive or poetic or whatever you want to call it, that I was always seeing things in a hallucinatory way. It was scary as a child, because there was nobody to relate to.

    Neither my auntie nor my friends nor anybody could ever see what I did. It was very, very scary and the only contact I had was reading about an Oscar Wilde or a Dylan Thomas or a Vincent van Gogh-- all those books that my auntie had that talked about their suffering because of their visions. Because of what they saw, they were tortured by society for trying to express what they were. I saw loneliness."

    PLAYBOY: "Were you able to find others to share your visions with?"

    LENNON: "Only dead people in books. Lewis Carroll, certain paintings. Surrealism had a great effect on me, because then I realized that my imagery and my mind wasn't insanity; that if it was insane, I belong in an exclusive club that sees the world in those terms. Surrealism to me is reality. Psychic vision to me is reality. Even as a child. When I looked at myself in the mirror or when I was 12, 13, I used to literally trance out into alpha. I didn't know what it was called then. I found out years later there is a name for those conditions.

    But I would find myself seeing hallucinatory images of my face changing and becoming cosmic and complete. It caused me to always be a rebel. This thing gave me a chip on the shoulder; but, on the other hand, I wanted to be loved and accepted. Part of me would like to be accepted by all facets of society and not be this loudmouthed lunatic musician. But I cannot be what I am not. Because of my attitude, all the other boys' parents, including Paul's father, would say, 'Keep away from him.' The parents instinctively recognized what I was, which was a troublemaker, meaning I did not conform and I would influence their kids, which I did. I did my best to disrupt every friend's home I had.

    Partly, maybe, it was out of envy that I didn't have this so-called home. But I really did. I had an auntie and an uncle and a nice suburban home, thank you very much. Hear this, Auntie. She was hurt by a remark Paul made recently that the reason I am staying home with Sean now is because I never had a family life. It's absolute rubbish. There were five women who were my family. Five strong, intelligent women. Five sisters. One happened to be my mother. My mother was the youngest. She just couldn't deal with life. She had a husband who ran away to sea and the war was on and she couldn't cope with me, and when I was four and a half, I ended up living with her elder sister. Now, those women were fantastic.

    One day I might do a kind of 'Forsyte Saga' just about them. That was my first feminist education. Anyway, that knowledge and the fact that I wasn't with my parents made me see that parents are not gods. I would infiltrate the other boys' minds. Paul's parents were terrified of me and my influence, simply because I was free from the parents' strangle hold. That was the gift I got for not having parents. I cried a lot about not having them and it was torture, but it also gave me an awareness early. I wasn't an orphan, though. My mother was alive and lived a 15-minute walk away from me all my life. I saw her off and on. I just didn't live with her."

    PLAYBOY: "Is she alive?"

    LENNON: "No, she got killed by an off-duty cop who was drunk after visiting my auntie's house where I lived. I wasn't there at the time. She was just at a bus stop. I was 16. That was another big trauma for me. I lost her twice. When I was five and I moved in with my auntie, and then when she physically died. That made me more bitter; the chip on my shoulder I had as a youth got really big then. I was just really re-establishing the relationship with her and she was killed."

    PLAYBOY: "Her name was Julia, wasn't it? Is she the Julia of your song of that name on 'The White Album?'"

    LENNON: "The song is for her... and for Yoko."

    PLAYBOY: "What kind of relationship did you have with your father, who went away to sea? Did you ever see him again?"

    LENNON: "I never saw him again until I made a lot of money and he came back."

    PLAYBOY: "How old were you?"

    LENNON: "24 or 25. I opened the 'Daily Express' and there he was, washing dishes in a small hotel or something very near where I was living in the Stockbroker belt outside London. He had been writing to me to try to get in contact. I didn't want to see him. I was too upset about what he'd done to me and to my mother and that he would turn up when I was rich and famous and not bother turning up before.

    So I wasn't going to see him at all, but he sort of blackmailed me in the press by saying all this about being a poor man washing dishes while I was living in luxury. I fell for it and saw him and we had some kind of relationship. He died a few years later of cancer. But at 65, he married a secretary who had been working for the Beatles, age 22, and they had a child, which I thought was hopeful for a man who had lived his life as a drunk and almost a Bowery bum."

    PLAYBOY: "We'll never listen to 'Strawberry Fields Forever' the same way again. What memories are jogged by the song 'Help'?"

    LENNON: "When 'Help' came out in '65, I was actually crying out for help. Most people think it's just a fast rock 'n roll song. I didn't realize it at the time; I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie. But later, I knew I really was crying out for help. It was my fat Elvis period. You see the movie: He -- I -- is very fat, very insecure, and he's completely lost himself. And I am singing about when I was so much younger and all the rest, looking back at how easy it was.

    Now I may be very positive... yes, yes... but I also go through deep depressions where I would like to jump out the window, you know. It becomes easier to deal with as I get older; I don't know whether you learn control or, when you grow up, you calm down a little. Anyway, I was fat and depressed and I was crying out for help. In those days, when the Beatles were depressed, we had this little chant. I would yell out, 'Where are we going, fellows?' They would say, 'To the top, Johnny,' in pseudo-American voices. And I would say, 'Where is that, fellows?' And they would say, 'To the toppermost of the poppermost.' It was some dumb expression from a cheap movie, a la 'Blackboard Jungle,' about Liverpool. Johnny was the leader of the gang."

    PLAYBOY: "What were you depressed about during the 'Help' period?"

    LENNON: "The Beatles thing had just gone beyond comprehension. We were smoking marijuana for breakfast. We were well into marijuana and nobody could communicate with us, because we were just all glazed eyes, giggling all the time. In our own world. That was the song, 'Help.' I think everything that comes out of a song-- even Paul's songs now, which are apparently about nothing-- shows something about yourself."

    PLAYBOY: "Was 'I'm a Loser' a similarly personal statement?"

    LENNON: "Part of me suspects that I'm a loser and the other part of me thinks I'm God Almighty."

    PLAYBOY: "How about 'Cold Turkey?'"

    LENNON: "The song is self-explanatory. The song got banned, even though it's antidrug. They're so stupid about drugs, you know. They're not looking at the cause of the drug problem: Why do people take drugs? To escape from what? Is life so terrible? Are we living in such a terrible situation that we can't do anything without reinforcement of alcohol, tobacco? Aspirins, sleeping pills, uppers, downers, never mind the heroin and cocaine-- they're just the outer fringes of Librium and speed."

    PLAYBOY: "Do you use any drugs now?"

    LENNON: "Not really. If somebody gives me a joint, I might smoke it, but I don't go after it."

    PLAYBOY: "Cocaine?"

    LENNON: "I've had cocaine, but I don't like it. The Beatles had lots of it in their day, but it's a dumb drug, because you have to have another one 20 minutes later. Your whole concentration goes on getting the next fix. Really, I find caffeine is easier to deal with."

    PLAYBOY: "Acid?"

    LENNON: "Not in years. A little mushroom or peyote is not beyond my scope, you know, maybe twice a year or something. You don't hear about it anymore, but people are still visiting the cosmos. We must always remember to thank the CIA and the Army for LSD. That's what people forget. Everything is the opposite of what it is, isn't it, Harry? So get out the bottle, boy... and relax.

    They invented LSD to control people and what they did was give us freedom. Sometimes it works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform. If you look in the Government reports on acid, the ones who jumped out the window or killed themselves because of it, I think even with Art Linkletter's daughter, it happened to her years later. So, let's face it, she wasn't really on acid when she jumped out the window. And I've never met anybody who's had a flashback on acid. I've never had a flashback in my life and I took millions of trips in the Sixties."

    PLAYBOY: "What does your diet include besides sashimi and sushi, Hershey bars and cappuccinos?"

    LENNON: "We're mostly macrobiotic, but sometimes I take the family out for a pizza."

    ONO: "Intuition tells you what to eat. It's dangerous to try to unify things. Everybody has different needs. We went through vegetarianism and macrobiotic, but now, because we're in the studio, we do eat some junk food. We're trying to stick to macrobiotic: fish and rice, whole grains. You balance foods and eat foods indigenous to the area. Corn is the grain from this area."

    PLAYBOY: "And you both smoke up a storm."

    LENNON: "Macrobiotic people don't believe in the big C. Whether you take that as a rationalization or not, macrobiotics don't believe that smoking is bad for you. Of course, if we die, we're wrong."

    PLAYBOY: "Let's go back to jogging your memory with songs. How about Paul's song 'Hey Jude'?"

    LENNON: "He said it was written about Julian. He knew I was splitting with Cyn and leaving Julian then. He was driving to see Julian to say hello. He had been like an uncle. And he came up with 'Hey Jude.' But I always heard it as a song to me. Now I'm sounding like one of those fans reading things into it... Think about it: Yoko had just come into the picture. He is saying. 'Hey, Jude'-- 'Hey, John.' Subconsciously, he was saying, 'Go ahead, leave me.' On a conscious level, he didn't want me to go ahead. The angel in him was saying, 'Bless you.' The devil in him didn't like it at all, because he didn't want to lose his partner."

    PLAYBOY: "What about 'Because'?"

    LENNON: "I was lying on the sofa in our house, listening to Yoko play Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' on the piano. Suddenly, I said, 'Can you play those chords backward?' She did, and I wrote 'Because' around them. The song sounds like 'Moonlight Sonata,' too. The lyrics are clear, no bullcrap, no imagery, no obscure references."

    PLAYBOY: "'Give Peace a Chance.'"

    LENNON: "All we were saying was give peace a chance."

    PLAYBOY: "Was it really a Lennon-McCartney composition?"

    LENNON: "No, I don't even know why his name was on it. It's there because I kind of felt guilty because I'd made the separate single-- the first-- and I was really breaking away from the Beatles."

    PLAYBOY: Why were the compositions you and Paul did separately attributed to Lennon-McCartney?"

    LENNON: "Paul and I made a deal when we were 15. There was never a legal deal between us, just a deal we made when we decided to write together that we put both our names on it, no matter what."

    PLAYBOY: "How about 'Do You Want to Know a Secret?'"

    LENNON: "The idea came from this thing my mother used to sing to me when I was one or two years old, when she was still living with me. It was from a Disney movie: 'Do you want to know a secret? Promise not to tell? You are standing by a wishing well.' So, with that in my head, I wrote the song and just gave it to George to sing. I thought it would be a good vehicle for him, because it had only three notes and he wasn't the best singer in the world. He has improved a lot since then; but in those days, his ability was very poor.

    I gave it to him just to give him a piece of the action. That's another reason why I was hurt by his book. I even went to the trouble of making sure he got the B side of a Beatles single, because he hadn't had a B side of one until 'Do You Want to Know a Secret.' 'Something' was the first time he ever got an A side, because Paul and I always wrote both sides. That wasn't because we were keeping him out but simply because his material was not up to scratch. I made sure he got the B side of 'Something,' too, so he got the cash. Those little things he doesn't remember. I always felt bad that George and Ringo didn't get a piece of the publishing. When the opportunity came to give them five percent each of Maclen, it was because of me they got it.

    It was not because of Klein and not because of Paul but because of me. When I said they should get it, Paul couldn't say no. I don't get a piece of any of George's songs or Ringo's. I never asked for anything for the contributions I made to George's songs like 'Taxman.' Not even the recognition. And that is why I might have sounded resentful about George and Ringo, because it was after all those things that the attitude of 'John has forsaken us' and 'John is tricking us' came out... which is not true."

    PLAYBOY: "'Happiness Is a Warm Gun.'"

    LENNON: "No, it's not about heroin. A gun magazine was sitting there with a smoking gun on the cover and an article that I never read inside called 'Happiness Is a Warm Gun.' I took it right from there. I took it as the terrible idea of just having shot some animal."

    PLAYBOY: "What about the sexual puns: 'When you feel my finger on your trigger'?"

    LENNON: "Well, it was at the beginning of my relationship with Yoko and I was very sexually oriented then. When we weren't in the studio, we were in bed."

    PLAYBOY: "What was the allusion to 'Mother Superior jumps the gun'?"

    LENNON: "I call Yoko Mother or Madam just in an offhand way. The rest doesn't mean anything. It's just images of her."

    PLAYBOY: "'Across the Universe.'"

    LENNON: "The Beatles didn't make a good record of 'Across the Universe.' I think subconsciously we... I thought Paul subconsciously tried to destroy my great songs. We would play experimental games with my great pieces, like 'Strawberry Fields,' which I always felt was badly recorded. It worked, but it wasn't what it could have been. I allowed it, though. We would spend hours doing little, detailed cleaning up on Paul's songs, but when it came to mine... especially a great song like 'Strawberry Fields' or 'Across the Universe' ...somehow an atmosphere of looseness and experimentation would come up."

    PLAYBOY: "Sabotage?"

    LENNON: "Subconscious sabotage. I was too hurt... Paul will deny it, because he has a bland face and will say this doesn't exist. This is the kind of thing I'm talking about where I was always seeing what was going on and began to think, Well, maybe I'm paranoid. But it is not paranoid. It is the absolute truth. The same thing happened to 'Across the Universe.' The song was never done properly. The words stand, luckily."

    PLAYBOY: "'Getting Better.'"

    LENNON: "It is a diary form of writing. All that 'I used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved' was me. I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically... any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent people who go for love and peace. Everything's the opposite. But I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated women as a youngster."

    PLAYBOY: "'Revolution.'"

    LENNON: "We recorded the song twice. The Beatles were getting really tense with one another. I did the slow version and I wanted it out as a single: as a statement of the Beatles' position on Vietnam and the Beatles' position on revolution. For years, on the Beatle tours, Epstein had stopped us from saying anything about Vietnam or the war. And he wouldn't allow questions about it. But on one tour, I said, 'I am going to answer about the war. We can't ignore it.' I absolutely wanted the Beatles to say something.

    The first take of 'Revolution' ...well, George and Paul were resentful and said it wasn't fast enough. Now, if you go into details of what a hit record is and isn't... maybe. But the Beatles could have afforded to put out the slow, understandable version of 'Revolution' as a single. Whether it was a gold record or a wooden record. But because they were so upset about the Yoko period and the fact that I was again becoming as creative and dominating as I had been in the early days, after lying fallow for a couple of years, it upset the apple cart. I was awake again and they couldn't stand it?"

    PLAYBOY: "Was it Yoko's inspiration?"

    LENNON: "She inspired all this creation in me. It wasn't that she inspired the songs; she inspired me. The statement in 'Revolution' was mine. The lyrics stand today. It's still my feeling about politics. I want to see the plan. That is what I used to say to Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. Count me out if it is for violence. Don't expect me to be on the barricades unless it is with flowers."

    PLAYBOY: "What do you think of Hoffman's turning himself in?"

    LENNON: "Well he got what he wanted. Which is to be sort of an underground hero for anybody who still worships any manifestation of the underground. I don't feel that much about it anymore. Nixon, Hoffman, it's the same. They are all from the same period. It was kind of surprising to see Abbie on TV, but it was also surprising to see Nixon on TV. Maybe people get the feeling when they see me or us. I feel, What are they doing there? Is this an old newsreel?"

    PLAYBOY: "On a new album, you close with 'Hard Times Are Over (For a While).' Why?"

    LENNON: "It's not a new message: 'Give Peace a Chance'-- we're not being unreasonable, just saying, 'Give it a chance.' With 'Imagine,' we're saying, 'Can you imagine a world without countries or religions?' It's the same message over and over. And it's positive."

    PLAYBOY: "How does it feel to have people anticipate your new record because they feel you are a prophet of sorts? When you returned to the studio to make 'Double Fantasy,' some of your fans were saying things like, 'Just as Lennon defined the Sixties and the Seventies, he'll be defining the Eighties.'"

    LENNON: "It's very sad. Anyway, we're not saying anything new. A) we have already said it and, B) 100,000,000 other people have said it, too."

    PLAYBOY: "But your songs do have messages."

    LENNON: "All we are saying is, 'This is what is happening to us.' We are sending postcards. I don't let it become 'I am the awakened; you are sheep that will be shown the way.' That is the danger of saying anything, you know."

    PLAYBOY: "Especially for you."

    LENNON: "Listen, there's nothing wrong with following examples. We can have figure heads and people we admire, but we don't need leaders. 'Don't follow leaders, watch the parking meters.'"

    PLAYBOY: "You're quoting one of your peers, of sorts. Is it distressing to you that Dylan is a born-again Christian?"

    LENNON: "I don't like to comment on it. For whatever reason he's doing it, it is personal for him and he needs to do it. But the whole religion business suffers from the 'Onward, Christian Soldiers' bit. There's too much talk about soldiers and marching and converting. I'm not pushing Buddhism, because I'm no more a Buddhist than I am a Christian, but there's one thing I admire about the religion: There's no proselytizing."

    PLAYBOY: "Were you a Dylan fan?"

    LENNON: "No, I stopped listening to Dylan with both ears after 'Highway 64' [sic] and 'Blonde on Blonde,' and even then it was because George would sit me down and make me listen."

    PLAYBOY: "Like Dylan, weren't you also looking for some kind of leader when you did primal-scream therapy with Arthur Janov?"

    ONO: "I think Janov was a daddy for John. I think he has this father complex and he's always searching for a daddy."

    LENNON: "Had, dear. I had a father complex."

    PLAYBOY: "Would you explain?"

    ONO: "I had a daddy, a real daddy, sort of a big and strong father like a Billy Graham, but growing up, I saw his weak side. I saw the hypocrisy. So whenever I see something that is supposed to be so big and wonderful, a guru or primal scream, I'm very cynical."

    LENNON: "She fought with Janov all the time. He couldn't deal with it."

    ONO: "I'm not searching for the big daddy. I look for something else in men... something that is tender and weak and I feel like I want to help."

    LENNON: "And I was the lucky cripple she chose!"

    ONO: "I have this mother instinct, or whatever. But I was not hung up on finding a father, because I had one who disillusioned me. John never had a chance to get disillusioned about his father, since his father wasn't around, so he never thought of him as that big man."

    PLAYBOY: "Do you agree with that assessment, John?"

    LENNON: "Alot of us are looking for fathers. Mine was physically not there. Most people's are not there mentally and physically, like always at the office or busy with other things. So all these leaders, parking meters, are all substitute fathers, whether they be religious or political... All this bit about electing a President. We pick our own daddy out of a dog pound of daddies. This is the daddy that looks like the daddy in the commercials.

    He's got the nice gray hair and the right teeth and the parting's on the right side. OK? This is the daddy we choose. The dog pound of daddies, which is the political arena, gives us a President, then we put him on a platform and start punishing him and screaming at him because Daddy can't do miracles. Daddy doesn't heal us."

    PLAYBOY: "So Janov was a daddy for you. Who else?"

    ONO: "Before, there was Maharishi."

    LENNON: "Maharishi was a father figure, Elvis Presley might have been a father figure. I don't know. Robert Mitchum. Any male image is a father figure. There's nothing wrong with it until you give them the right to give you sort of a recipe for your life. What happens is somebody comes along with a good piece of truth. Instead of the truth's being looked at, the person who brought it is looked at. The messenger is worshiped, instead of the message. So there would be Christianity, Mohammedanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Marxism, Maoism-- everything-- it is always about a person and never about what he says."

    ONO: "All the 'isms' are daddies. It's sad that society is structured in such a way that people cannot really open up to each other, and therefore they need a certain theater to go to to cry or something like that."

    LENNON: "Well, you went to est."

    ONO: "Yes, I wanted to check it out."

    LENNON: "We went to Janov for the same reason."

    ONO: "But est people are given a reminder..."

    LENNON: "Yeah, but I wouldn't go and sit in a room and not pee."

    ONO: "Well, you did in primal scream."

    LENNON: "Oh, but I had you with me."

    ONO: "Anyway, when I went to est, I saw Werner Erhardt, the same thing. He's a nice showman and he's got a nice gig there. I felt the same thing when we went to Sai Baba in India. In India, you have to be a guru instead of a pop star. Guru is the pop star of India and pop star is the guru here."

    LENNON: "But nobody's perfect, etc., etc. Whether it's Janov or Erhardt or Maharishi or a Beatle. That doesn't take away from their message. It's like learning how to swim. The swimming is fine. But forget about the teacher. If the Beatles had a message, it was that. With the Beatles, the records are the point, not the Beatles as individuals.

    You don't need the package, just as you don't need the Christian package or the Marxist package to get the message. People always got the image I was an anti-Christ or antireligion. I'm not. I'm a most religious fellow. I was brought up a Christian and I only now understand some of the things that Christ was saying in those parables. Because people got hooked on the teacher and missed the message."

    PLAYBOY: "And the Beatles taught people how to swim?"

    LENNON: "If the Beatles or the Sixties had a message, it was to learn to swim. Period. And once you learn to swim, swim. The people who are hung up on the Beatles' and the Sixties' dream missed the whole point when the Beatles' and the Sixties' dream became the point. Carrying the Beatles' or the Sixties' dream around all your life is like carrying the Second World War and Glenn Miller around. That's not to say you can't enjoy Glenn Miller or the Beatles, but to live in that dream is the twilight zone. It's not living now. It's an illusion."

    PLAYBOY: "Yoko, the single you and John released from your album seems to be looking toward the future."

    ONO: "Yes, 'Starting Over' is a song that makes me feel like crying. John has talked about the Sixties and how it gave us a taste for freedom... sexual and otherwise. It was like an orgy. Then, after that big come that we had together, men and women somehow lost track of each other and a lot of families and relationships split apart. I really think that what happened in the Seventies can be compared to what happened under Nazism with Jewish families.

    Only the force that split them came from the inside, not from the outside. We tried to rationalize it as the price we were paying for our freedom. And John is saying in his song, OK, we had the energy in the Sixties, in the Seventies we separated, but let's start over in the Eighties. He's reaching out to me, the woman. Reaching out after all that's happened, over the battlefield of dead families, is more difficult this time around.

    On the other side of the record is my song, 'Kiss Kiss Kiss,' which is the other side of the same question. There is the sound of a woman coming to a climax on it, and she is crying out to be held, to be touched. It will be controversial, because people still feel it's less natural to hear the sounds of a woman's lovemaking than, say, the sound of a Concorde, killing the atmosphere and polluting nature. Altogether, both sides are a prayer to change the Eighties."

    PLAYBOY: "What is the Eighties' dream to you, John?"

    LENNON: Well, you make your own dream. That's the Beatles' story, isn't it? That's Yoko's story. That's what I'm saying now. Produce your own dream. If you want to save Peru, go save Peru. It's quite possible to do anything, but not to put it on the leaders and the parking meters. Don't expect Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan or John Lennon or Yoko Ono or Bob Dylan or Jesus Christ to come and do it for you. You have to do it yourself.

    That's what the great masters and mistresses have been saying ever since time began. They can point the way, leave signposts and little instructions in various books that are now called holy and worshiped for the cover of the book and not for what it says, but the instructions are all there for all to see, have always been and always will be. There's nothing new under the sun. All the roads lead to Rome. And people cannot provide it for you. I can't wake you up. You can wake you up. I can't cure you. You can cure you."

    PLAYBOY: "What is it that keeps people from accepting that message?"

    LENNON: "It's fear of the unknown. The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that... it's all illusion. Unknown is what what it is. Accept that it's unknown and it's plain sailing. Everything is unknown... then you're ahead of the game. That's what it is. Right?"
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  9. rocknram29

    Live, Love, Laugh, & Learn
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    Oct 2, 2011
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    On the other side
    Great read. Thanks for posting that.
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  10. Prime Time

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    Feb 9, 2014
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    Cumberland, Maryland
  11. Mojo Ram

    Horns for life
    Moderator 2017 Survivor Co-Champion
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    Feb 3, 2013
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    One of my favorite male vocalists.
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  12. Mojo Ram

    Horns for life
    Moderator 2017 Survivor Co-Champion
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    Feb 3, 2013
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  13. Prime Time

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    Feb 9, 2014
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    Cumberland, Maryland
    Before the craziness overtook him and he ended up in prison as a murderer, Phil Spector was a sought after producer who was ahead of his time. He produced the Beatles 'Let It Be,' George Harrison's 'All Thins Must Pass,' and John Lennon's 'Imagine.' Here's an example of his 'Wall of Sound' production with Tina Turner.

    A documentary on him is next, followed up by a long 1969 with him in Rolling Stone. The mind is definitely a fragile thing and there is a thin line between madness and genius.

    Phil Spector: The Rolling Stone Interview
    An untamed talk with the visionary producer about what makes great music and the characters he's met along the way to become the "Tycoon of Teen"

    Phil Spector in the studio in the 1960s./Ray Avery/Redferns

    By JANN S. WENNER/November 1, 1969

    Baron and I sat in a rented Mustang outside the Sunset Strip office of Phil Spector Productions for 40 minutes one April night, listening to the car radio and waiting for the man. A black Cadillac Limousine pulls up, and then away, circles the block and parks behind us. Out steps the chauffeur, who in reality is one of Spector's several bodyguards. The whole Tom Wolfe legend is about to take place in front of our eyes. We change cars and the chauffeur pulls way with us in the back seat.

    Phil Spector, the first "Tycoon of Teen," is finally about to make good the promise for an interview, after two months of hassling over time and place. The interview is going to happen on the night of "Mission: Impossible." Spector, it turns out, lives only ten blocks or so from his office.

    The grounds are surrounded by electric fences and gates, and what's more amazing is that after pulling into his driveway, you see electric fencing also covers the windows and front door of his house. Once inside the doors and gates it's Phil Spectorland, with framed pictures and clippings, all the famous articles about Phil, pinball machines and jukeboxes with all his hits still on the playlist.

    The living room is around the corner: the house used to belong to one of the Hollywood starlets, and it's a beauty: 20 foot gabled ceilings, sunken rooms, a grand piano, Irish wolfhounds and two Borzoi's running around on the patio off the living room. Next to the living room is the game room, a huge pool table in the center, the walls covered with framed photos of Phil playing pool with Willie Moscone, Phil playing pool with Minnesota Fats, and dozens of others.

    We waited in the living room another half hour, while Phil was "getting ready." We were offered something to drink, something to eat: candy-filled dishes on the coffee tables (long with the books and magazines, with bookmarks in place, which carried more of the famous articles about Phil), slices of pizza and cokes. Baron and I sat, almost whispering, because the place must have been wired for sound as well as everything else. The chauffeur-bodyguard returns to check the last minute details, and he comes in without his coat on, displaying his shoulder holster and his gun.

    We didn't know whether to laugh or to faint. Like, they never checked for the stick of dynamite I had in my tape recorder and the .38 Baron was carrying in his camera kit.

    In walks the man: Phil Spector, short little Phil, all dressed up for the interview in outrageous yellow plastic rimmed glasses, a tie-piece around his collar, sucking a candy cane. What a show tonight!

    Do you see any black militancy in the record business? Let's take Stax which is owned by . . .

    Let's take it, man. Like, you take $4 million, and I'll take $3 million, and we all be very rich very quick. I'm rich already, what am I talking about? Go ahead, what about Stax-Volt?

    Do you find any black resentment against the whites. You worked at Atlantic, another white-owned company, dealing primarily with black music. Was there any resentment from the artists?

    Oh yeah, man, "We bought your home, damn, and don't you forget it, boy. You livin' in the house we paid for, you drivin' a Cadillac we got, man. It's ours. You stole it from us."

    You heard that from the beginning of time. All the Drifters were gettin' was $150 a week and they never got any royalties. It wasn't that Atlantic didn't pay them; it was that everybody screwed everybody in those days. I mean I was in the Teddy Bears and what did we get – one penny a record royalties!

    What has disappeared completely is the black groups, other than what you have comin' out of Motown and your other few – and I don't mean Stax-Volt because I don't consider that what I'm talking about. The group on the corner has disappeared. It's turned into a white psychedelic or a guitar group, there are thousands of them. There used to be hundreds and hundreds of black groups singin' harmony and with a great lead singer and you'd go in an record them.

    You used to go down to Jefferson High or 49th & Broadway and could get sixteen groups. Today you can't find them; they're either involved in the militant thing or they just passed, like it's not their bag anymore, or like it's just disappeared. It's not the big thing to get together after school and harmonize. And it used to be a real big thing. It was very important. I guess they just got tired of knocking on record doors, and they saw that a whole new regime had taken over.

    This is why you have the music business dominated in the black area by just two companies. Because there is just really no place for them to go. They've just sort of disbanded. Other than Motown you don't see any groups, colored groups. The Dells happened for a while on that Cadet label from Chicago or whatever. That's where black something has affected it. I don't know if it's black militancy or whatever, but something has definitely effected the complete destruction of the black groups that used to be dominating the record industry.

    How has that changed the music?

    It's changed the music drastically. It's given birth to English groups to come along and do it like Eric Burdon. It's also given birth for the Stones and the Beatles to come along and do it – not that they wouldn't have done it otherwise – but the first place the Beatles wanted to see when they came to America (cause I came over on the plane with them) was the Apollo Theater.

    As bad as a record as "Book of Love" by the Monotones is, you can hear a lot of "Book of Love" in the Beatles' "Why Don't We Do It the Road." I think you hear a lot of that dumb, great-yet-nonsensical stuff that makes it – even though it's silly. It's got the same nonsense.

    I believe that the English kids have soul. Really soul. When I watch Walter Cronkite or Victory at Sea, or You Are There – any of those programs, I see bombs flying all over England and little kids running. Now that's probably Paul McCartney running. You know, 'cause that's where the bombs fell. They say soul comes through suffering. Slavery for the blacks. And gettin' your ass bombed off is another way of gettin' some soul, so I would say that these English cats have a lot of soul legitimately. You're gonna have Dave Clark in there who don't know too much about it, and just like you're gonna have a Rosy and the Originals in America who don't know too much about it.

    What do you think of groups like Sly and the Family Stone or the Chambers Brothers who have such a large white audience, almost primarily white?

    The Chambers Brothers have been around so long that they're just like a group I think of as "having" to have made it – a must. In other words, if they hadn't made it, it would be as much of a crime as Roy Orbison not being a star today or the Everly Brothers not making it today. It was criminal that they weren't big before.

    The fact that they appear for white audiences is, I think, only because black music – if there can be such a phrase – or music as interpreted by black people – is a lot more commercial than music interpreted by white people.

    The biggest English records are really when they are imitating. It's much more commercial when Eric Burdon sings a black copy. Just like Al Jolson was much more commercial when he did the black face than he ever was than when he went out and sang "My Yidishe Momme." They love "mammy" with the black face – Stephen Foster, I mean. Which is probably why the black people resent so much of America. "We are the most commercially imitated people, we write and sing the most commercial music and yet we are the least talked about and the most oppressed."

    So the black man got to figure that may be the reason he's passed from the musical scene to a large extent. Now when I say passed, I really mean passed. I mean it's as good as Sam Cooke being dead. You don't hear Ben E. King or any of the real soulful music anymore, and that was really commercial music, and it was good music.

    I don't remember where we were. You asked me something.

    The Chambers Brothers.

    I don't know why they appeal to white people really. I would imagine that if you went into a black Baptist church, you'd dig it a whole lot because it's groovy music. I don't know why they are more commercial. I don't know even if they do appeal to a larger white audience than the black audience.

    Being on Columbia Records has a lot to do with it. White people hear them much more. You don't see colored people going into a store sayin', "Let me have the Columbia Master Works series number 129." Or just like you wouldn't see any of the young cats doing it. It's just not their bag.

    I think that Columbia doesn't really get them played on R& B stations, because it doesn't say "this is a new Chambers Brothers album." It just comes in a Columbia package with Tony Bennett and Andy Williams and they sort of put it, you know, I mean you can't hear Jocko or Rosco or any of them getting all excited about – "Oh, a new shipment from Columbia came in today, any free goods runnin'?" I mean there ain't gonna be any free goods or money inside. So, I mean they ain't gonna get too excited.

    The Chambers Brothers play white audiences; they dig Melodyland. You don't see them very often in the same parts of town that you see the Four Tops when they come. The Four Tops do the Coconut Grove, but they also do Joe Louie's Club on 189th Street, keepin' cool with him. Maybe the Chambers Brothers paid dues so long that they're a little bit tired of payin' dues. They just sort of want to make it, and if it means makin' it before the white kids – then they're gonna make it. I don't really feel that the Chambers Brothers have really been recorded right yet; they haven't really hit it yet for me. I mean they're groovy, but their records haven't hit it yet.

    What artist do you really feel has not been recorded right that you'd like to record?

    Bob Dylan.

    How would you record him?

    I'd do a Dylan opera with him. I'd produce him. You see he's never been produced. He's always gone into the studio on the strength of his lyrics, and they have sold enough records to cover up everything – all the honesty of his records. But he's never really made a production. He doesn't really have to.

    His favorite song is "Like a Rolling Stone," and it stands to reason because that's his grooviest song, as far as songs go. It may not be his grooviest message. It may not be the greatest thing he ever wrote, but I can see why he gets the most satisfaction out of it, because rewriting "La Bamba" chord changes is always a lot of fun and any time you can make a Number One record and rewrite those kind of changes, it is very satisfying.

    I would like him to just say something that could live recording-wise forever. I would have enjoyed recording John Wesley Harding in its own way. He doesn't really have the time nor do any of his producers necessarily have the ambition or talent to really overrule him or debate with him. I would imagine with Albert Grossman there is a situation of business control just like it would be with Elvis Presley and Colonel Parker. Assume that there is no control, then somebody should be much more forceful. Maybe nobody has the guts, balls or the ambition to get in there, but there is no reason unless Dylan didn't want it. But there is a way he could have been made to want it.

    There is no reason why Dylan can't be recorded in a very certain way and a very beautiful way where you can just sit back and say "wow" about everything – not just him and the song – just everything.

    How would you have done John Wesley Harding?

    There is a way to do it. He's so great on it and he is so honest that it's just like going into the studio with twelve of Steven Foster's songs. There's so much you can do. There is so much you can do with Dylan; he gives you so much to work with. That's probably why he sells so many records without trying so very had in the studio.

    It's also probably why the Beatles . . . well it's obvious that Paul McCartney and John Lennon may be the greatest rock and roll singers that we've ever had. They may be the greatest singers of the last ten years – they really may be! I mean there is a reason for the Beatles other than the fact that they're like Rogers & Hart and Hammerstein, Gershwin and all of 'em. They are great, great singers. They can do anything with their voices.

    So to pat them on the back doesn't mean anything. It's really from the great background they had – of digging so much all their lives – that not only did they get that great gift of writing, but they have the great talent of singing; which is really where it's at. When you can get in and sing "Rocky Raccoon" that way, you know that he knows how to sing better than anybody else around, because he can switch right into "Yesterday." They've got a great gift, and for me it's much more than just sayin', "the Beatles, the Beatles, the Beatles."

    I would like to record them a certain way because, again, other than what they do themselves – there's nobody. I don't know how influential their producer is, and I am sure they have a great deal of respect for him and he's the fifth Beatle and all that, but I don't think he thinks the way I would think. Their ideas are so overpowering that you just sort of just go along with them and you're gonna end up with somethin' groovy. I don't think it was necessarily his idea to put "King Lear" on the end of that one record. Which did or did not have to be in the record.

    I think Mick Jagger could be a lot of fun to record. It's not just the big artists; I think Janis Joplin leaves a lot to be desired recording-wise. How well she can sing when she's way up front – I don't know. How well she would sing under different circumstances I don't know.

    But the one that really would be the most satisfying probably would be Dylan because I could communicate with him and justify what he really wants to say – no matter what it is – musically, which is something that you don't see very often happening today.

    Many of the artists today just sing, they don't really interpret anything. I mean the Doors don't interpret. They're not interpreters of music. They sing ideas. The Beach Boys have always sung ideas – they've never been interpreters. The Beatles interpret; "Yesterday" meant something. Whereas "Good Vibrations" was a nice idea on which everybody sort of grooved. That's what I feel is missing in the Chambers Brothers – the interpretation.

    Four or five years ago . . . Sam Cooke interpreted, I have a feeling that a lot of it is the producers' fault, and a lot of it is the . . . the fact that everybody is runnin' a little too scared today. Nobody really knows, nobody really knows what Janis Joplin can do except Janis Joplin, and I don't necessarily think she puts her faith in anyone or would have anyone direct her.

    What did you think of Beggar's Banquet?

    Well, they're just makin' hit records now. There was a time when the Stones were really writing contributions. See that's a big word to me – "contributions."

    What were the songs at the time.

    "Satisfaction" was a contribution. They've had a few contributions. See there's a difference: other than one or two numbers, Johnny Rivers is not a contribution to music, he never will be, he never can be. I don't care if all the Johnny Rivers fans say "boo." Just like Murray Roman will never be a comedian. There's just certain people that just don't have it. Moby Grape will never be a contribution. There are a lot of groups that will never be a contribution. 'Cause if you listen to just one Muddy Waters record you've heard everything Moby Grape's gonna ever do. Or if you listen to one Jimmy Reed record you've heard everything they may want to do.

    The big word is "contribution," and the Stones lately have not been – although they have been writing groovy hit things – contributing anymore. You have a time when they were contributing all of it. Everything was contribution. They'll go down as a contribution. They'll be listed as a contributing force in music. An important influence. It's not a put down on them, because nobody can keep up that pace.

    If some of these groups, and some of the people in the business would dig athletics they would see more the reasons for themselves than they do now. Like Sonny Bono will never know what happened when it's all over. He'll never know why it happened, because he didn't know what happened to make it happen. So he won't know what happened to make it fail. But if you go out and you watch athletics and you watch a winning team lose, you watch them accept the failure. You see why they didn't win, and it makes sense. You sort of put things in perspective to yourself.

    The people in today's business really don't do that. They don't know why they're making it – they just dig it, but athletes never do that. You never see athletes go crazy. They know tomorrow it's all over; one bad tackle, one bad jump and it's all over, and you're dead and nobody cares about you anymore.

    In the record business they just try, try forever and ever and ever. They don't plan nothin'. Motown, as marvelous as their recording company is . . . I mean, I've said it before: they have invented the Mustang body or the Volkswagen body and there isn't very little they can do wrong with it. They're gonna keep groovin', but I wouldn't be surprised if they releaseone percent of what they record. If they release twenty things a month, you can see how much they're recording and how much they don't release. Their studios are goin' 24 hours a day. Because they know that's what their strategy has to be.

    The other people in the industry, like Ahmet . . . I love Ahmet. When I first went to New York, he took care of me, and I love him. I mean he has no strategy. He calls up his office and says, "How many records we sell today?" I mean he can't know everything that's out there.

    We had dinner with him one night and somebody said, "Ahmet, I'd really like to get the Bee Gees," and Ahmet said, "Well man, you know, I can't, you know, do anything man cause they've got this Stigwood somebody and anyhow man, he's a very difficult man to deal with. Anyhow the Bee Gees ain't gonna be nothin'. Man, the Cream, you know, got two records in the top ten albums and you know that I'd never even heard of the group. But the very best group, the best that gonna be the biggest group in the world is the Vanilla Fudge." He didn't even know, man. Because what's he care if it's Vanilla Fudge or Cream.

    Like the Cream are breakin' up, and he said, "like man you have to do a final album for me." They said, "Why man, we hate each other," or somethin' like that. Ahmet said, "Oh no man, you have to do one more album for me. Jerry Wexler has cancer, and he's dyin' and he wants to hear one more album from you." So they go in, make the album and he says, "Like man, Jerry Wexler isn't dyin', he's much better, he's improved."

    He's just jivin' like that 'cause it's a lot of fun and he's a great business man.

    Like when I met Otis Redding the first time. Otis says, "Hey Phil" – man, I loved Otis – we were just gettin' along famously talking, having dinner and he says, "How long you been knowin' Omelet?" I just sort of laughed 'cause he said "Omelet," and I know his name is Ahmet not "Omelet." And I said, "About seven years."

    And he said, "Omelet is just too much, he's too much."

    I said, "Yeah he sho' is." Afterwards, I went over to Ahmet and said, "Ahmet, how long you been knowin' Otis?"

    He said, "Oh, about three years." I said, "And you mean he calls you 'Omelet'?"

    So he says, "That's right man. You know he calls the office all the time and he asks for Omelet, and they don't want to hurt his feelings by telling him my name is Ahmet."

    Otis was not a dumb colored cat. You know he was a smart cat and knew what was happening. If he ever knew that Ahmet's name was not Omelet, he would have been real upset, you know. And none of the stecretaries told him 'cause they thought, "Oh, man, maybe a dumb spade." And also they loved him and didn't want to put him down, but he'd get on the phone with Jerry Wexler and he'd say, "How's Omelet do-doin'?" Wexler would say, "Oh, Omelet's fine Otis, Omelet's doin' real good, Otis." The poor guy called him Omelet all his life.

    {Note: Phil Walden, Otis' close friend and personal manager, says Otis knew Ahmet's real name, but thought it was a laugh to call him "Omelet."}

    But they love Ahmet for that, because he looks like Lenin, he has his beard and he's sophisticated and he come on and he jives all these cats and he goes to Harlem and he cooks and he smokes the crap and everybody digs him.

    Several years back we were all sitting around with some colored group, and one of them said, "crap man, your contract ain't worth crap." We were in a restaurant, and Ahmet looks around to make sure nobody'd hear us. The guy said, "Mercury gonna give me seven percent, you only give me five percent. That's like jive-ass." Ahmet said, "Not so loud." And he said, "Yeah man, I can't sign your contract for five percent when I can get me seven percent over at Mercury."

    And I was just sittin' back waitin' for what Ahmet was gonna say to this cat. The guy has the Mercury contract with him, and it does say seven percent. And he's got Atlantic's cockamamie contract for five percent. Now, he's got Ahmet up a wall, he's trapped, and Ahmet knows he's trapped, and we're all sittin' around, and Ahmet hit him with a line: Ahmet said, "Man, listen man, you know what. I gonna give you 15 percent, but I ain't gonna pay you." The guy said, "What?" Ahmet said, "That's what they gonna do. They gonna give you seven percent but they not gonna pay you, and I gonna give you five precent and pay you. Now that's a big difference isn't it?" They guy said, "That's right – never thought of it that way. That makes a lot of sense. I'm gonna sign with you Ahmet, I gonna sign with you Ahmet."

    What about Jerry Wexler?

    I don't know. It's funny 'cause Jerry Wexler and I never got along, and we only really started to communicate when Lenny died, because he suddenly realized that he loved Lenny very much, and if Lenny and I were that close, it was time to break the ice between him and myself. So in the last few years we've communicated a great deal and talked. Jerry has a good time and jives a little bit, but his contribution really is the early music – all those records he did – like "A Lover's Question," "Shaboom." That's the Jerry Wexler that for me really changed and set the standards for the recording industry.

    I don't know how much he's a part of Aretha. I don't really get into it or care. I enjoyed Dusty Springfield's record, and I don't listen to music too much today 'cause I'm not inspired by a lot of it. A lot of it is a lot of crap. There is so much coming out on Atlantic, they got, so many hits that I don't know what Jerry does and what he doesn't do.

    I know that he is a brilliant businessman, and what he's done with Aretha is sparkling – what can you say? She was dumped from company to company, and he did make it happen. In many ways he's like Ahmet in another area. He just gets in that studio and if it's right. . . . To sum up Jerry Wexler: As a producer he knows when something is right, and he can wrap some of these young punk producers around his little finger.

    But to show you how sophisticated the kids are today, Jerry goes down South and cuts something and comes back up. Everybody listens to it. Ahmet says, "Too many highs in that record. It's shrill." Jerry says, "You're crazy, man. It's a groovy record – a smash." Ahmet says, "I don't know man. It's awfully shrill. Somethin' the matter with the mikes down there." He says, "You're crazy, Ahmet. Man, you can go ask anybody."

    And nobody knew what to say. It was like a standoff.

    "What about the song?" Jerry asked. Ahmet said, "Well, the song's good, but it's just too piercing. There's something wrong with that record." So he says, "Let's go downstairs and find some kids on the street." So they go downstairs and find three long-haired kids with boots on, comin' home from school.

    And Ahmet says, "Say, man, I work for Atlantic Records and we want you to hear a record." So the guy says, "Okay." He says, "Man, we'll buy you some hamburgers and stuff." They say good, so they go upstairs and sit down – the kids thought we were gonna give them some joints, and we give 'em hamburgers.

    They come upstairs and they go in the room and Jerry Wexler played this record for them. And these kids were sittin' there diggin' it, diggin' it, you know.' And Wexler says, "What do you think of it?" One guy says, "It's a groovy song man, and great performance." And they all said, "Yeah man, it's a hell of a song and a great performance."

    So Wexler looks at Ahmet and winks at him 'cause he knows he's won. Ahmet says, "You like the record?" And the kid says, "Yeah, but too many highs on it, it's piercing, really shrill. You gotta change the mixing – the EQ's wrong."

    Jerry Wexler said, "The EQ's wrong? What you know about EQ?" Jerry got real hot. He just didn't realize that the kids today like they've all made records and they're very sophisticated and you can't jive 'em like that. And the kid said, "I don't dig the EQ on the record. Now where's my hamburger? I gave you my opinion and I don't dig the EQ on your record." That's outta sight. I loved it.

    So Wexler's a brilliant businessman; I mean he's really a groovy cat. I mean it's a great combination but if you really think of it – a Jewish cat and two Turks becomes the biggest R&B label – it's kinda weird. With no Mafia in there either.

    What do you know about the Mafia in the record business?

    I wouldn't say anything I knew anyways. I just try to hire 'em all, that's all. No, I wouldn't say a word about them. "What Mafia?" "What record business?" Why must we do the interview on the night of Mission Impossible, man? That's a helluva good program. That's a great show man. I don't know what day it comes on because I don't watch television that much. I'm one of those phonies that says he doesn't watch it, but watches it every night. No, I really don't know.

    What was your involvement with Lenny?

    Other than that he recorded for me, I would say he was at the time my closest friend. He was like a teacher or a philosopher. He was like a living Socrates. Nobody will ever really know what Lenny was, and who he was, because nobody saw him in those last few years.

    The people who really didn't see him are the people who said they did see him. I mean the Mort Sahls, Bill Cosbys, Buddy Hacketts–those are the people that really let Lenny down. They're the ones who all said, when Lenny died, that they wanted to bury him – only they wanted to bury him when he was living, not afterwards, because none of them were there.

    I guess it was hard for them to look at Lenny, because Lenny was obviously the very best. He was the epitome of comic brilliance, he was the greatest standup comedian of his time, he had the ingenious mind that they all wished that they had. To see the best like that would probably be too hard. They probably wouldn't have been able to stomach it.

    I took Lenny to The Trip one night when it was open on Sunset, and Cosby was in there, the Smothers Brothers were in there. They all sort of tried not to say hello to Lenny and then they all sort of disappeared because not only did they steal so much from Lenny, take so much material from him, but they didn't know how to confront him. I don't think they knew what to say to Lenny or how to express themselves.

    In the last year or six months Lenny had a nail tied to his foot and was going around in circles. He obviously was not guilty of anything he was charged with because the New York courts even let him go after his death. Posthumous vindication doesn't really mean anything, but he was right is what they meant, because the court said he was right. He just had a Kafkaesque life in that he was never allowed to do what he was charged with in front of a courtroom, and that was be obscene or not be obscene.

    The film he made was him with the words and everything – 'cause he never used a dirty word to use it. He would shuck with you, and if he dug you he would talk like I've been talkin' to you now. I don't use a dirty word or say "freak this" just to say it or to get you horny, I say it because I'm talkin' with you and that's it. And that's how he was with an audience.

    None of the comics came to his defense. If anything, after he died, Mort Sahl said some real bad things about Lenny, much more harmful than they were good. He might as well have hated Lenny all his life for what he said, because he's a liar. It's that simple. He said Lenny was being used by the establishment to prove a point. That's a lot of crap.

    I have the exact quotes from the New York Times. I even have the paper – I kept it. Sahl said Lenny never thought of anything so astounding – or something similar to that – because there was nothing Lenny ever thought of that Mort had not thought of at one time also.

    Well, that's like saying "Einstein never did anything that I couldn't have done because I was thinkin' all them things too, but I just didn't say 'em – I' kept 'em to myself, but now I'm gonna let you in on it. See, here's the theory of relativity."

    He wouldn't have dared say that when Lenny was alive. You see after Lenny died they all said all kinds of crap, because he ain't here. And even when he was alive he hardly defended himself. You know, he didn't care. He was like full of compassion for everybody. He saw people stealing his material left and right.

    They asked me to do a Les Crane show on Lenny with Murray Roman – it was a joke, and I wouldn't go on the show because I wouldn't give any credence or give any kind of authority to Murray Roman, 'cause he's a joke. I mean he is a joke. He just has to stand up there and I'll laugh at him. He's just a joke. He's indicative of the whole recording industry. Cosby (whom Roman records for) can't make up his mind whether he's a black militant or a white millionaire.

    Now Lenny was not obscene, he was not dirty, he never posed in the nude (or an album) and he never did anything on any of his albums that should not have been heard. Yet they wouldn't touch him. We don't see anybody raising a fuss when this company comes and puts out John Lennon, you know with his schlong hanging out there and, "hey, you know, it's a big thing," when it's really not. Now the times may be changing, which is okay and there's nothin' wrong with John Lennon doin' whatever he wants to do.

    But you have to get upset when the music industry defends that, but doesn't defend it on a general basis; it just sort of picks out certain things. It's like Marshall on the Supreme Court: he is not really a black man – he will never defend a black man because he's black, but you'll find a lot of white southerners defend white people just because they're white. I mean in the North they don't care that way; the music industry doesn't stick with anyone.

    What about John Lennon?

    Haven't spoken to Lennon in some time so I don't know where he's at now. But I have a feeling that Yoko may not be the greatest influence on him. I mean, I don't know, but I have a feeling that he's a far greater talent than she is.

    You know, a multi-millionaire in his position just doesn't get caught in an English apartment house by the cops on a dope charge unless you're just blowing your mind or somebody is just really giving you a freaking. I mean you have dogs, you have bodyguards, you got something to protect you. Everybody knows the Beatles were immune. Everybody knows that George Harrison was at the Stones' party the night they got busted, and they let Harrison leave and then they went in and made the bust. I mean it was like the Queen said, "Leave them alone."

    So Lennon must really have been causing a disturbance or somebody must have been setting him up to get busted, 'cause it ain't no medal of honor. Like it's no medal of honor to get the clap. Being busted for marijuana don't mean nothin' – it's just a waste of time, if anything. It wasted his time. It may have even caused . . . miscarriages.

    It's almost like a weird thing to see just how bizarre he can get before he really blows it or he just teaches everybody something.

    But I think without question he is leader of that group, and he makes the decisions. I'd like to know how the Beatles feel about him and what he's going through. I almost get the feeling that they want to help him but I don't think they really can because he's always way ahead of them.

    I just hope that he doesn't hurt himself. Lenny really hurt himself. I tried to tell him, "you're going to hurt yourself, you're going to hurt yourself," and when they get going that's it, once they really get going. 'Cause Lenny would have died for any reason that day–a tooth pulled, anything. When you get going in that direction there's nothin' can stop you, no amount of talk.

    Lenny should have been out working at all the colleges, and influencing all the young people of the country. That's what he should have been doing, but instead he sat up in his room all night.

    He wrote Supreme Court things, you know . . . "Dear Justice Marshall: You don't seem to understand." He was brilliant; he knew more than anybody but he didn't know there was doors to go through and ladders to climb. He thought it was just 1, 2, 3. I just hope Lennon doesn't blow it. It's his life, but he's too great a contribution.

    You came over with the Beatles when they first came over to the States. What was that like?

    It was a lot of fun. It was probably the only time I flew that I wasn't afraid, because I knew that they weren't goin' to get killed in a plane. That plane was really an awful trip. I mean there were 28 or 30 minutes where that plane dropped thousands of feet over the ocean. It scared the crap out of me, but there were 149 people on board who were all Press and Beatles' right-hand men, and left-hand men, and we just sat up there and talked about the Apollo and all that jive. Lennon was with his first wife, and he was very quiet. Paul asked a lot of questions, George was wonderful. It was a nice trip.

    I'd just been in England for a couple of weeks and I went by their apartment, and they were leaving and said why don't you come back with us. It's really funny, but they were terribly frightened to get off the plane.

    They were terribly frightened of America. They even said, "You go first." 'Cause the whole thing about Kennedy scared them very, very much. They really thought it would be possible for somebody to be there and want to kill them, because they were just very shocked. The assassination really dented them tremendously – their image of America. Just like it dented everybody's image of the Secret Service.

    You were associated with the Stones when they first started. Was there any talk of you becoming their producer?

    Um, yeah, but Andrew was involved at that time and he was sort of . . . they told me he tried to be like me in England. And he sort of . . . I would say in all honesty that he was my publicity agent in England at that time. In other words, he called me, and said he could do publicity, and I said, well, do publicity because I don't know what it involves. He sort of had a nice affection for me as a record producer and he supposedly held me in high esteem.

    The group was thinking of breaking up at the time. They were really disorganized. It wasn't so much breaking up; crap, they couldn't get . . . nobody believed in them. They were like a dirty, funky group. They were like second-class citizens and even at my hotel they couldn't get in. They wanted 'em thrown out.

    What did you do with them?

    I went to see Sir Edward uh, what was his name? The owner of London Records, an old English cat. Didn't understand anything he said for half an hour. I wanted the Stones on an American label, my label, and he didn't. He offered me a percentage, anyhow, it involved things and money changed hands, and I never really was anything more than just close friends with them.

    I knew there would eventually be problems between Andrew and them because . . . I don't know. I just had a feeling. Then there was another guy involved too, another Eric somebody. He was involved. I saw them in America a few times. The first time they came, they did awful; their tours were bombing. They got hung up in hotel rooms, and nobody knew what was going on.

    The funniest call of all was when Mick Jagger called. Andrew used to sleep in my office in New York, when he stayed there. We used to get these phone bills to London, all kinds of nonsense. Didn't know who was doing them or who was calling. One day we got a phone call, you know, and it was Mick Jagger. I happened to pick up the phone and he said, "What you say there?" And I said, "Who's this?" He said, "This is Mick Jagger – wha' happening?" I said "Nothing." I said, "Where are you?" He said "In Hershey, Pennsylvania. Everything is freakin' brown here. The phones are brown, the rooms are brown, the street is brown, every freaking thing is brown. I hate it in this freakin city, Hershey, Pennsylvania." He didn't know that Hershey, Pennsylvania, is where Hershey's chocolate company is located.

    Did you negotiate their contract?

    Well, this was an involved thing. I made a lot of bread real fast and that's about all. But I never wanted to get anything else except to see them happen, because they were really discouraged.

    I mean London Records didn't know whether to believe in them or not – their record company. It was just a thing that I felt that if another group was going to make it after the Beatles, they would make it. They were tremendously popular in London. The girls screamed for them everywhere and yet they hadn't had a hit. I figured somethin's here, you know and they tried to get in hotels and people kept them out, and they said they were dirty and they smelled.

    So I went to see Sir Edward Lewis. We talked and we worked out some kind of deal, and then they got a hit – "Not Fade Away" became a big hit in England – and then they came here and slowly they happened. But it wasn't until like a year later, when they exploded, that the contract really meant anything, as far as I was concerned. But financially, it didn't mean anything until much later on. Of course there were so many people involved in the background scene before they ever went to Allen Klein. And I don't think Allen Klein ever knew what was going on, and he's not a very good cat.

    What do you think about music now?

    Rock and roll music obviously has this tremendous thing with young people.What tires me in this business today is that I'm tired really of hearing somebody's dreams and somebody's experiences. I would like to hear a little bit more of . . . I mean the Beatles combined it; and they do it well – their experiences, their love and their feelings. I don't know if they lived "Yesterday," but I know they wrote it.

    Now I'm getting a little tired of hearing about, you know, everybody's emotional problems. I mean it's too wavy. Like watching a three or four hour movie. I'm getting so fed up with it. No concept of melody–just goes on and on with the lyric, and on and on with the lyric. They're making it a fad. If it had more music it would last, but it can't last this way.

    I mean country and western is evident of that, because it's lived so long by being so obvious. The old tunes have lived so long because they're obvious. I mean "all the things you are" and all the great songs you've heard were obvious in their way. Everybody went to a minor seventh in the bridge. I mean it was standard. You started out in a major seventh chord and you went to the minor seventh of the fourth and that was it, and you wrote a great song. So they had their formula and we have ours today, but they are ruining the formula.

    They are going to really kill the music if they keep it up, because they're not writing songs anymore. They are only writing ideas. They don't really care about repetition. They don't care about a hook or melody. And I know the Beatles do. I mean "Lady Madonna" was a hit song. They didn't write that for an emotional experience and you don't have to put things into those songs – they're right there – blah. That "ooh bla dee, ooh bla da . . ." I mean that's a hit song. Ten years ago that was a smash. I mean "life goes on." We must have more songs.

    The Beatles have a fantastic feel for the market in addition to everthing else.

    That's commercialism; that's what is not existing in today's music. That's the shuck that I think is going on whereby everybody is susceptible to being fooled so much that, and they jive so much that . . . you see these people in music don't realize that they are really forming the tastes of the young people of America. If they keep going in that direction they're going to bore themselves out of existence. It's going to get boring.

    What are you gonna do with the stuff you're workin' on now? How does that differ from the last work you did with Ike and Tina Turner?

    Don't know. I will go in many directions – some experimental – some not. Today "River Deep – Mountain High" could be a number one record. I think when it came out, it was just like my farewell. I was just sayin' goodbye, and I just wanted to go crazy, you know, for a few minutes – four minutes on wax, that's all it was. I loved it, and I enjoyed making it, but I didn't really think there was anything for the public . . . nobody had really gotten into it enough yet; it really hadn't exploded the way it's exploding today with all the sounds and they're really freaking out with the electronical stuff. Today "River Deep" would probably be a very important sales record. When I made it, it couldn't be – so, I don't know. I got what I wanted out of it.

    You see, I don't have a sound, a Phil Spector sound – I have a style, and my style is just a particular way of making records – as opposed to Lou Adler or any of the other record producers who follow the artist's style. I create a style and call it a sound or a style; I call it a style because it's a way of doing it.

    My style is that I know things about recording that other people just don't know. It's simple and clear, and it's easy for me to make hits. I think the River Deep LP would be a nice way to start off because it's a record that Tina deserves to be heard on – she was sensational on that record. A record that was number one in England deserves to be number one in America. If so many people are doing the song today, it means it's ready.

    How did your association with Ike and Tina first come about?

    They were introduced to me. Somebody told me to see them, and their in-person act just killed me. I mean, they were just sensational.

    Have you seen it lately?

    Yeah, I saw them at the Factory, of all places. They were . . . well, I always loved Tina. I never knew how great she was. She real-ly is as great as Aretha is. I mean, in her own bag she is sensational, and Joplin and all that, but I couldn't figure how to get her on record, and then the Righteous Brothers pulled that nonsense, walked out, which cost them. (MGM had to give me a ridiculous sum of money to get them. That was the stupidest . . . I mean it was really dumb. It doesn't matter leaving me; freak that, that don't mean nothin'. The dumb thing was to leave and suck MGM into that stupid deal, and then die as an act! I made a deal that I would not . . . we can't tell the figures of, you know, for publication, I mean they have to give me so much money. I mean it's ridiculous).

    Why couldn't the Righteous Brothers make it without you?

    I don't know if they couldn't have, but they really should have. I would imagine for the same reason that Mary Wells and Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers all had only temporary success, if any, when they switched. The Righteous Brothers in particular were a strange group in that they really were non-intellectual and unable to comprehend success. They couldn't understand it and couldn't live with it, and accept it for what it really was – they thought it was something that could be obtained very easily, and once it was attained, it could be consistently obtained.

    I think managers in the tradition of Allen Klein came in and jived them – it wasn't Allen, but men like that – jived them. The boys' ability to really dissect, in a sophisticated way, what people were saying was so limited. They didn't have that ability; they could be swayed to other forms of thinking easily. I think that's what happened and I really don't think that they had the ability to do it by themselves.

    If anything the reason they should have been successful is because they were accepted by black and white, and that's a big plus. Then they blew that because they tried, I think, to copy and emulate and use whatever it was that I did, and they didn't know how – not that they should have known how, but they shouldn't have even tried.

    Really, they were not sophisticated enough to present themselves honestly. We really didn't bring them out honestly, except on the album. I mean those records were made, those songs were written, "Lovin' Feelin'" was not just a song. It was a song song, and you just can't go into the studio and sing "He Can Turn the Tide" and expect everybody to fall down.

    I think people who don't realize their limitations can never really comprehend their ability. You have to know what you can't do much more than what you can do, because it's obvious that you know what you can do by doing it. But to fool yourself by thinking you're a tough guy and go out and just fight cause somebody's gonna come along who's really good.

    Only an unsophisticated person would go out and start fighting everybody, and the Righteous Brothers are comparable to that because they really got fooled.

    Now I don't know what the situation was with Roy Orbison or Mary Wells. I heard there were a lot of different things, but for the Righteous Bros. I just think it was a great loss, because the two of them weren't exceptional talents, but they did have a musical contribution to make. I loved them, I thought they were a tremendous expression for myself. I think they resented being an expression. I think now if they had it to do again they never would have left. Two or three years later it never would have happened. In those times there was a lot of bullcrap talk going around which influenced artists.

    Why did they go to MGM?

    Because, if you'll notice, MGM bought Roy Orbison, bought Mary Wells, bought the Righteous Brothers, buys a lot of them. MGM has to make big billings, and they figure they can eventually settle any lawsuit. Now stockholders really don't care about it as long as you get the gross billing, so I think that's why they went with MGM; 'cause MGM opens the door to these kinds of things; they opened it to Wells, Orbison and the Righteous Brothers.

    I'm curious now about Holland, Dozier & Holland, represented by Allen Klein, who is the major stockholder in MGM, what's going to happen to them. . . . It's funny that I always believed that the Motown organization was really not colored, in that sense. That only recently they got involved with all that, Martin Luther King . . . But that Holland, Dozier & Holland should ever wind up with a Jewish white cat as their representative is realy weird. He probably told them "You made Motown." Which is what the Coasters told Atlantic seven or eight years ago: "We made Atlantic Records." If you tell a guy enough, he'll believe you.

    I'm sure that when Motown lost Holland, Dozier and Holland they got a little nervous for a while, and then they shoved it right up 'em by making four number one records in a row with every one of Holland, Dozier and Holland artists, including the ones that were buried like Marvin Gaye. So Allen Klein has got to do a lot of talking now, and I'll bet he tries to sell them to MGM. I just have a feeling that they'll end up in a deal with them.

    Now God knows how many tracks Motown has on Holland, Dozier and Holland, but certainly nobody is responsible, no one thing . . . the Righteous Brothers were not Phil Spector. Holland, Dozier and Holland are not Motown. I mean something happens to people's minds, and they start thinking – I guess it's normal – you have to start thinkin' maybe you are the cause of everybody's money and financial success, but I don't know the inner workings, and I think the Righteous Brothers would admit it today if they were together, that they were wrong (and the settlement, although I can't tell figures, is evident). They didn't even want to take it to a court of law. The very fact that they settled meant they did not want to go to court. I think Bill Medley, in an honest moment, which he has said since, would say, "We really shouldn't have left Phil, and also we really had no right to."

    They just walked out on the contract, and I just sat back and said "Well, the courts will eventually go with me." They have to. Like if contracts get broken and I mean if they'll let people kill each other, then there would be no laws. So eventually, even if it's in the Supreme Court, you get justice for what you put in.

    I even ran into Bobby Hatfield one night about a year ago, and he had every reason to be apologetic, you know, he's really a strugglin' cat now. I mean he's not doin' anything of worth now. It's a shame. I really feel funny. I didn't get hurt; I really came out smelling like a rose in that situation, but I was very upset that they blew their talent. I was selling more records in the colored market than I was in the white market, and yet they had a tremendous fan club of white teenie boppers.

    I mean they had it made. They could have been around for three or four years solid with big records. Instead they go and make . . . well, let's face it – Roy Orbison for years made hit records before he left. Mary Wells was big, but the Righteous Brothers only had three or four hits and then goodbye. They weren't around long enough to sustain with junk. If they had like two or three years of hits they could have put some junk out for awhile. I mean they went to everybody to produce their records and everybody didn't really know what to do with them, because they in themselves were not extraordinary talents. They were just just great commercial talents – they were like Sam and Dave, only more commercial. I mean what is the business today if not commerciality. You know, you can write 10,000 things out there, but if they're not commercial very few will make it.

    You did some of the first, I hesitate to use the phrase, "message" songs. Like "Spanish Harlem." What was the reaction of the record industry at that time to that kind of thing?

    That record was a monster. The Drifters . . . well, that was to be the followup to "Save the Last Dance for Me," and then Ben E. King decided that he'd been screwed, and wanted to go on his own. And then he chose that song, which drove me crazy, I said "You can't go out with that song, 'cause that's gotta be done by the Drifters or it'll never get played."

    I had been in New York, I was born there and had lived out here in California a great deal of the time. I went back there and I wanted to do "Spanish Harlem." It really meant exactly what it said . . . That song had a lot of meaning to me and is still applicable today. It turned out to be a very very valuable copyright with all kinds of records resulting from it. They've offered all kinds of money for the copyright.

    I think the record industry just accepted it. I don't think they knew it was a message or it wasn't a message. I don't think they knew anything. I think it was just there, but I don't think anyone really thought it was a hit; nobody did. Nobody really understood it at first, then it started to grow on people and it made sense. I don't know. I love it and it says a lot for me. Did you know it was Lenny Bruce's favorite song?

    Of the records that you've been involved with, and you've done, which do you like the most?

    Well, in the beginning I made a lot of records that I didn't put names on and nobody knows about, and it's better that way. But I did it because people in the industry somehow found out, and I needed the bread or whatever it was, and some of those records I can't give titles on, but I'm very proud of one of them. But of those that you know of, I would imagine "Be My Baby" and "Lovin' Feelin" are the most satisfying. "River Deep" is a satisfying record.

    I mean I could tell you how "Lovin' Feelin" was made. I could tell you I'm the greatest freakin' record producer that ever lived and that I'll eat up all these cats in the studio if they want to put their mouths right there and their money right there.

    If I say Bob Crewe is not good, it puts more pressure on me, like to come out and really kill everybody with another "River Deep," which I really don't want to do. "He's A Rebel," it's fine; the "Da Do Ron Ron" is fine. I'm not interested in knocking everybody's brain'cause I'll always make a good record and it'll be better than all that crap out there today.

    'Cause they really don't know how to record. They don't know anything about depth, about sound, about technique, about slowing down. One company does know something: that's Motown. They know how to master a record. You put on a Motown record and it jumps at you. That's one thing among many they know how to do. For sure. I know how they're doing it, but it's their bag. But a lot of their records are not mastered for the record player, they're mastered for the record player, they're mastered for the radio, which is a whole different thing.

    So the more things you come out and you say–the more antagonistic you are, the more hostile you are–the more is expected of you.

    So when you put out something, a lot of people think . . . "Are you ashamed?" Not ashamed, but like that "Da Do Ron Ron" thing. "Da Do Ron Ron" was where I was at that time, just like "Yellow Submarine" was where the Beatles were; I'm glad people remember those things . . . because if people didn't know where I was, then I would be nothin'. It's like when somebody dies–all the people do is yell "He died, he died." I yell "He lived." A hell of a lot more important than the fact that he's dead, is the fact that he lived.

    So people tend to reverse it, and just like the Los Angeles Times plays on that reverse, so does the underground press. You never know what you're gonna read in the underground press for shock value. I mean you really just don't know. So I don't know how to express myself. Maybe that's why I don't do any interviews for anybody. NBC is doing a big thing now. Next month they're gonna come out with record producers.

    Now I was gonna tape one and say "It's all a lot of crap and everybody's lousy," and all that, but I figure that if I'm goin' back in the record industry, I'll just antagonize thousands of disc jockeys who may see the show all over the country, and then they're gonna say, "freak Phil Spector, because, you know, he's an antagonistic prick," which is a lot of the reason probably for the fact that "River Deep" didn't make it. They wanted me to get out there and take 'em to dinner and "Who is this freakin' millionaire, who does he think he is? freak his ass," you know. But in England they don't give a crap about nonsense like that. So the best thing to do is just like cool it for awhile, I figured.

    I have to be smart enough to know that a $700,000 home that I can sell for $1,200,000 was bought from the record industry. So if I sit and make fun of the record industry, I'm stupid. But if I criticize it, I'm not so stupid because I also have cures for the criticism. I just don't put people down and say they're shits – I tell 'em I think I can do it better, and I think there's a better way.

    People put you down for really criticizing, but I can literally tear apart nine out of ten groups. I have to tell you something is desperately wrong with most groups, I mean really bad, bad news. But if you antagonize a million people, and they say, "Well, what are you doing now?"–it's true, I'm not in the record industry, but that is what gives me credentials to criticize, but in a sense, it gives me none. I live off what I've done and my reputation is there, and it's unspoiled. I keep it that way.

    But I can't comunicate with a lot of these people. I can't really bullcrap with them. I don't have friends in the record industry. I don't talk with them. We don't jell; we don't communicate; because I'm too bitter I think.

    What do you think of Apple?

    I think it was a necesssity. Why should they split their money with Capitol so much?

    Aren't they still doin' it?

    Yeah, but they couldn't do it alone, because the distributors would kill 'em.

    Would they?

    Oh, sure.

    Was Philles records a . . .

    A self-distributor. I distributed myself. You see, the Beatles. would have made a mistake if they had left Capitol. They didn't have to. All their product was on Capitol. Capitol knows how to throw press parties, Capitol knows how to sell albums. They would have had to suddenly hire all people to do that for them. Like if Tony Bennett and Andy Williams came to A&M to negotiate a deal, in the end Jerry Moss would have had to tell 'em to stay where they are. They'd be stupid. They can't get from A&M what they can get from Columbia Records. Mathis made the biggest mistake by leaving Columbia. The Beatles wouldn't have been smart to start a new association. They would've been fighting their old Capitol product.

    You would have had Capitol releasing old crap Beatle records, and the Beatles releasing new Beatle records. It would have been flooded again, it would've been that same old thing again, only this time somebody would've gotten hurt. So they got what they wanted from Capitol. They're ending up as if they owned their own company anyway. They're saving all the bookkeeping charges, saving all the personnel charges. Capitol's doin' all the work and given' them a lot of bread. A lot of bread. So they're just as smart to stay in that way.

    You could say that the record industry is like controlled by people who really don't care about the music.

    They don't, 'cause I can make you a millionaire tomorrow! In one day I can make you a millionaire. Just make me a record, I'll send it out to every distributor and I'll bill every distributor. On paper you'll be a millionaire, 'cause I'll ship five million of your records. On paper you'll be a millionaire, and if that record don't sell you'll only be a very quick millionaire, but if I do it enough times, eventually I'm gonna get lucky and eventually you will be a millionaire.

    That's how RCA works. You know any group that gets $100,000 from a label advance–you know that label is frightened to death. Any label that puts the Archies out is frightened. Donnie Kirshner is a friend of mine, and he wants me to say nice things about him. but . . . that's crap, the Archies; that's pure, unadulterated crap. When I see and hear stuff like that I want to throw up.

    Do you think there is any way of changing the record industry?

    It's not that it's so bad, it's just like it's going to bore itself out. These groups are going to bore everybody to death. I mean, it's a pattern–make a Number One record, go on the Smothers Brothers' show; make a Number One record, go on the Dean Martin show; make a Number One record, go on Ed Sullivan. It's getting boring already.

    I mean a few good songs are out, like I should name you a good song–a good song is "Games People Play" by Joe South. It's groovy. It's a groovy song. The best song of the year probably is "Heard It Through the Grapevine" or "Abraham, Martin and John." That's probably the best lyric and message love song, ideawise, yet NARAS won't even recognize those songs. They'll give it to that guitar player Mason Williams on Warner Bros. or Paul Mauriat or one of those guys.

    "I heard it through the grapevine" is the most common saying; it's a great idea for a song. "For Once In My Life" is a great idea for a song; they won't even recognize this stuff. You see, I don't care about the groups: Just like who can care about the Chipmunks, let 'em make it, so what? Let the Archies make it, let the Monkees make it, so they're a lot of crap, so what? Let all these groups make it–let 'em cook, cook, cook forever.

    But the people who have to change the industry are the people who are running the big time–the NARAS organization. Like it doesn't mean anything to me, but I've never been nominated. Now you say it must mean something or you wouldn't say it. Well, it means something 'cause, like Dylan has never really been nominated. The Beatles have only been nominated recently, because they wrote "Yesterday," and they just couldn't stop the power of that song. Jimmy Reed and Bo Diddley and B. B. King–none of these cats have ever been nominated.

    Excuse me, I was nominated once. I was nominated for putting thunder in "Walkin' In The Rain." That's what they nominated me for. Can you imagine that? People say I set standards in the record industry. Yet NARAS doesn't know I exist. They literally don't. The best rhythm and blues record of the year several years ago according to NARAS was Bent Fabric and "Alley Cat." I mean, can you imagine: Nancy Wilson was best R&B artist of the year! I mean, that's junk.

    They're trying to change, and when we say change it, they say, "Well, why don't you come down to our meetings and help us change?" I said, "Well, if I'm gonna go to your meetings, I'd rather form my own committee and get the dues myself. Why the freak do I have to help you get $50 a person? I'm formin' my own organization called PHIL, right? And everybody give me $100. What do I need you for?" That's what BMI did to ASCAP–freaked them right out of all that money. Got all the young writers that way.

    I mean, there should be a producers' society. I was gonna form one. Get every producer to join my organization–and they all would – $1,000 entrance fees, Felix you're vice-president, and Bob Crewe you're secretary-treasurer, and now we're powerful, we go on strike and we don't make no records, right?

    "Felix goes on strike unless he gets 8% of the Cream records." Now that's a strong idea, right? The publishers have it, the musicians have it. freakin' musicians walked out on the Joey Bishop –Continued on Next Page Show. You can't put them to work. They played records in the background. So they come back, but they were on strike. Now wouldn't that be somethin'? The songwriters have it. If you're a songwriter you join a protective association. If you're a publisher, writer, you join BMI.

    Producers have nothin'. They go into a record company and get freaked left and right. Make a hit . . . who made the record "Little Star?" Who knows, man? Company's out of business now . . . great record, boom, goodbye, garbage, down the drain . . . But you have an association of record producers called RPI of America, Record Producers Incorporated of America, well you got somethin', you got a giant there. I was thinkin' of doin' it just for the hell of it.

    If I get back in the regulars, I'm gonna do it. Engineers have it, everybody has it. We're gonna become a union; we'll join up with Hoffa and those Teamsters, get with them, and all that nonsense. Producers don't have nothin', man. I mean it's really a shame. Where's Eric Jacobson? He's freakin' down the tubes somewhere. He had no protection. We should have had meetings and all the record companies should be sayin', "Oh God, the Producers of America are gettin' together again, crap, there's gonna be trouble, man, trouble." I wanted to do that long ago, but, you know, everybody thinks I'm joking around.

    Everybody should be in some kind of a union, because the unions are the most powerful things. They almost put me out of business twice. I mean they put a black mark on me for overdubbing. That's it. I couldn't make a master, I couldn't even get a dub 'cause everybody was union. There was a letter sent out to all the unions, "Don't do business with this company." That's it. I called up – nothin'. Couldn't get arrested, couldn't hire a musician 'til I paid them $50,000 and some nonsense fees that they wanted for the dead musicians fund or the trust fund for dead musicans' wives or some crap. There is $28 million in that fund, and ain't nobody ever got none of it. Nobody knows . . . I ask all my musicians, where is all that money? They ain't never seen it.

    Just like David Susskind says to me, "What's it like on Tin Pan Alley?" I said, "Where the freak is Tin Pan Alley?" I mean you tell me where it is, and I'll go. I mean they live ass you and the people don't know. David Oppenheimer, big producer for CBS, man, he comes here and he's sittin' in my room and he says, "Are the young people really takin' over the record industry?" And he's sittin' in my house askin' me that question! He's got cameras on me, he's got the microphone on me, and he's askin' me if the young people are takin' over the country. Now why ain't the camera on him? I mean, they don't understand. I can't change the record industry just like I can't change Jerry Rubin or I can't change Ted Kennedy; it's impossible.

    I feel like an oldtimer wishin' for the groovy young days, but I listen to the Beatles' album and I know they're wishin' for it too, because you can hear it. "Lady Madonna" was such a groovy oldtime thing.

    And Dylan is yearnin' for those days, because this was the first time he was ever able to come out and not be influenced by the people around him. They probably didn't understand a thing Dylan wrote on John Wesley Harding, but they probably said "Yeah, man, yeah." He probably thought a long time before he did it. Instead of writing, "I've been sittin' in my mind, lookin' out the windows of the world"–that's what they were used to hearing–he just freaked 'em all up by writing just what he wanted to write. It must have been a big, big step for him, 'cause it's hard when your people around you are all tuned to one way of life, and then you just come and change it for them. He took a big risk, as an artist, by doing that. A big, big risk. He really deserves a lot more credit. He can't get anymore, I guess, but that was a big, big step for him to do that. 'Cause the people really wanted somethin' else from him.

    Now in the production world, I may be similar to what Dylan is in the popular world, but I know people expect me to come up with another "River Deep" momentous production. But that's not where it's at. It's in pleasing yourself and making the hit records. That's all that counts. That's the only reason people come to see you. That's the only reason people want to talk to you and get your opinion, 'cause you're the best; 'cause you're makin' money and you're makin' a lot of hit records. If you don't work and you got enough bread, well then you're cool, too.

    There's no success like failure, and failure's no success at all.

    I don't care if people put me down for what I say, but society sets a standard of living for you, and they create rules and record books . . . they force you to live by them. It's almost like being psychotic. It's like, if you can take a couple of pills and just cool it, that kind of life becomes a lot more exciting than going out and working and grooving. So they put you in a hospital and every day you stay in. That's why people go in the mental hospitals and very rarely get out, because they dig it. It becomes easier than to go out and face society with the cabs and the horns, and the people. They make it almost impossible for you to want to get out of there.

    The underground sort of does the same thing. They get your standards all twisted–like the Los Angeles Times ignores your standards. It's almost like the people running the underground press must be a lot of frustrated people; a lot of them who really want to be important, like agents want to be actors, musicians' agents want to be drummers, etc.

    Are you apprehensive at all about what's goin' to happen and how your stuff is going to be received?

    If I say yes, then I'm frightened. If I say no, that means that I'm very cocksure of myself. I'm cocksure of myself to the extent that I know I can make hit records. I don't worry about that. I'm apprehensive about certain people who don't have any standards but drug standards, really. If they're loaded at one time, my record will sound great; if they're not loaded, it may sound bad. I'm apprenhensive about the kind of things that people expect. I mean, they don't really want hit records.

    Let's face it. It's nice to see somebody on top get the crap beat out of them. That's why I stayed away for a long time, so I'll come back almost like a newcomer, because I mean, that's why everybody hates Cassius Clay; he's a very cocky son of a bitch. You want to punch him in the nose, but that's really great when you can scare the crap out of your opponents by your cockiness.

    I'm apprehensive only to the extent that I don't know how to lose yet; I don't know how to say "freak it" about my art. I get too involved. See, I could just cool it, I mean, somebody's got to come in second . . . but it's guys like Bill Gavin that make me nervous. Those are the guys that get me uptight. And so I have to say, "freak that guy; who cares. I'll kill 'em, I'll stomp him." And it's true. It's just that I haven't gotten over it yet, you know.

    I'm still involved with why "River Deep" wasn't a hit, and what the freak was . . . and am I that hated? Am I too paranoid? You know, you can antagonize people if they think you're not human, if you say, "Aw freak, I ain't afraid." A lot of people will get very angry at that; disc jockeys in particular.

    Herbie calls me in sometimes and says "Listen to this": I mean he played me that thing "A Taste of Honey." My engineer Larry Levine won best record of the year production for that record at NARAS, but never won with me on anything – was never even nominated! The only thing we were nominated for was the thunder in "Walkin' in the Rain."

    So I guess the best thing to be is not apprehensive and to not give a freak. I should be smart enough, knowing Dylan and knowing the Beatles, to know that they don't give a freak anyway, and I don't give a freak what they do–realistically. Because I don't sit and criticize their albums. They can't do anything wrong, and if I don't like it, so what? But who do theyreally have to impress? They have to impress all the people. People got to buy. So that's really where it's at.

    The days of the dominating disc jockey are over. There's no more powerful disc jockey who rules anything. What does scare me a little bit is that there's not many more Tom Donahues around. That's bad. I mean, there aren't any guys with good ears that know how to play a record, and a disc jockey's not allowed to bust a record anymore. He's got to say–it's really commercial and play this one and scream–"I can dig it." The music comes on and he says, "Now here's a pimple commercial." That bothers me a little bit.

    Where does the power lie?

    The power lies in program directors.

    Are there any groups you would consider working with today?

    Yeah, a lot of groups–all black. I don't like the white groups. I think there is a great void in black music today–great void.

    What is the void?

    Not being heard enough. Motown should not dominate it. Stax shouldn't dominate it either. There should be more black groups. There should be three black groups on every label around town. Hell, they've got enough of 'em and enough singers–they just don't have anybody to produce their records for them. Ben E. King should be making hits; he's a great artist.

    I mean really, Motown has got it all tied up. Stax doesn't even come near Motown. They can't get a special on television or anything. So who's dominating it?

    Why do you think the Beatles' first release in this country didn't make it?

    Timing. Bad timing. What else could you attribute it to but timing? It has to be timing. It has to be. I mean, I can't think of any other reason except that we weren't ready for it. They probably weren't exposed and we weren't ready for it. I mean there were probably many more reasons why they should have made it than why they shouldn't have. Now, we can look back and say, "Yeah, we were freaked up," but we could not look back then at all. I would imagine, time and maturity. Great amount of luck involved too. Elvis Presley is another guy.

    What did you think of his television show?

    They ruined it; you should have seen it before they edited it. I didn't see the final version. What was originally done was sensational. How it ended up, I can't tell you. I know they cut out three scenes that were unbelievable. I meanthey cut out everything that was Elvis, really Elvis. They destroyed a lot of it, so I can't tell you how the final version was. But I think he's a sensation on stage.

    Do you think he's gonna come back?

    Yeah, he's got a hit now. I don't know what it is, but it's a hit. Oh, he should man. He is never gonna die. Somebody ought to cut an album of him singin' the blues. You know there's a strong belief–and judging from what I saw and heard at NBC, I believed it–that when he goes into a room with Colonel Parker, he's one way, and when he comes out, he's another way. You know, it's possible Colonel Parker hypnotizes him. That's the truth, too, and I can tell you six or seven people who believe it, too, who are not jive ass people. I mean, he actually changes. He'll tell you "Yes, yes, yes," and then he'll go in that room and when he comes out it's "No, no, no." Now, nobody can you like that. I wonder about that.

    What has he got that has survived the worst recording career direction in history?

    He's a great singer. Gosh, he's so great. You have no idea how great he is, really, you don't. You have absolutely no comprehension–it's absolutely impossible. I can't tell you why he's so great, but he is. He's sensational. He can do anything with his voice. Whether he will or not is something else. He and Dylan–he and Dylan I would like to record. Elvis can make some masterful records and can do anything. He can sing any way you want him to, any way you tell him. Even Dion. Look at Dion. Even Dion came back. Anybody great can come back today. That's what's so good about it.

    What stops the Everly Brothers?

    They'll get lucky like Dion did. Dion put out a lot of records that didn't mean anything. They'll get lucky.

    What do you think accounts for the Everly Brothers and Fats Domino . . . and they're both on the same label. And fats makes a really respectable record.

    You mean the album?

    Yeah, Fats Is Back. Why can't the Everly Brothers do it like that? What's the difference between them as artists?

    I don't know. You see, to me, Fats Is Back wasn't any better than any of Fats' old albums. If you're gonna bring Fats back, you gotta bring him back better or you can't bring him back. That's why they never should have put those greatten or nine old records with little blurps of each one, at the beginning, cause it really makes you want to hear the old record rather than the new gib-gab that that guy cut–whatever guy makes Tim's records, Tiny Tim. Now, I mean I'm willing to bet that Rolling Stone gave that an A plus rating and that they gave him genuine credit for a superb production on that record. I'm willing to bet on it.

    You win.

    Everything else was nice, but other than the two Beatle tunes, I mean it was like old Fats Domino again, but it did show one thing–that the Beatles are hit songwriters by anybody. If they had written "Lady Madonna" for Fats he would have had a number one record. It was nice to hear him on the radio again. I'll say that. It was good to hear Fats on the radio again. I just wish he could have been heard more for a longer period of time, but yeah, it was a respectable album. It was respectable. That's such a common word. My school teacher was respectable. It doesn't mean much.

    Do you judge art in terms of success?

    Art is relative. Because everything and anything can be art. It's just a matter of taste. Warner Brothers has an idea of art. . . . Their art was bringing back Fats Domino. They didn't do it, so they freaked up. John Lennon's got a different approach to art–so he puts out "Do It In The Streets" and that's groovy, that's his terms. So, art is relative. Each person has their own interpretation of art.

    What I'm asking is if you are evaluating the record in terms of success.

    I'm evaluating it in terms of what their goal was. Warner Brothers' goal was to bring Fats back, and they didn't. So in that area, they failed. Did they make a great record? No, they didn't. I could make giant records with Fats.

    What's the effect of drugs been upon you? Have they had an effect on your music?

    I haven't made any music since that whole drug thing started.

    Do you think it will?

    Well, the listening audience will be affected by it. I mean, I've gotten a lot of letters and a lot of people said they've listened to "River Deep" stoned, and they had the ear phones on, and they just freaked out, you know, with the sound. Well, you know nobody was stoned when they made the record, I can tell you that.

    David Susskind once said that rock and roll records are out of tune. Was he stoned? Well, I've never used anybody but Barney Kessel and those kind of guys, the best musicians, they don't know how to play out of tune!

    So you can get a tag–psychedelic or drugs. I don't know, maybe drugs will affect my music. Drugs tend to frighten me a little in an audience because it doesn't make for good hearing and concentration. Now I'd hate like hell to have an incoherent jury listening to me, when I'm tryin' to plead a case . . . just spaced out. I'd get frightened. Just like I hate to bet on a fighter or horse that's drugged. That's scary. I don't give a freak what they do in their own time, but if a disc jockey is going to review my record, and he's stoned, well, you know, he can go either way. It depends on how good the stuff he took was, and he's gonna either love my record or hate my record. But I mean, you shouldn't be judged that way. In fact–art can't and shouldn't be judged at all! Because it's all a matter of taste.

    What do you think the difference is going to be between the audience today and the audience's reaction to music today, as compared to five years ago?

    I don't know. Everybody's a helluva lot hipper today, I'll tell you that. There's 13-year-old whores walkin' the streets now. It wouldn't have happened as much five years ago. Not 13-year-old drug addicts. It's a lot different today. I tell you the whole world is a drop-out. I mean, everybody's a freak-off. Everybody's mini-skirted, everybody's hip, everybody readsall the books. How in the hell you gonna overcome all that? Sophistication, hippness, everything. They're really very hip today.

    The music business is so different than any other business. You know, Frank Sinatra has a hit. Sister Dominique or whatever her name is, has a hit. I can show you six groups out there today who are opposite. I mean the Archies have a hit at the same time the Beatles do, so it really doesn't mean anything.

    Now who's buyin' the Archies' records? That's what I can't understand, and who bought all the Monkees' records–same cats who bought all the Stones records? If they're not, then that makes the buyin' public so big . . . ' Cause the four million that bought the Monkees and the six million that bought the Beatles are different, then there's 10 million kids buying records. That's a helluva lot of a better throw at the dice. I'd rather have a chance out of 10 million times instead of six million times, so. it probably will be easier.

    How are you cutting with the Check Mates?

    I don't know yet. All different ways. Very commercial records. Good records. Easy records. Soulful records. Some have depth, some don't have. . . .

    Does it worry you at all, that there's been a change?

    Well, anything that deteriorates music bothers me a little bit. I mean, if when Beethoven lost his hearing, if I was alive, it would have bothered me. I have to be affected by it. It bothers me that some music is very boring. I hear a lot of disc jockeys saying "Let's throw this crap out." I hear them saying there are so many freaking groups–so boring. I hear this so much, that I believe it. If it's true then yeah, it bothers me. It bothers me enough to get back in.

    You're not worried that you won't be able to make the change?

    If anybody's going to have to worry, they're going to have to worry. Not me, 'cause I'm comin' back! You know, I don't know if there has been a change, because if six million kids still buy the Monkees,' then there hasn't been a change. They're the same six million that bought honky records five years ago.

    The only real difference there is in the record industry is in black music. That's the big difference. But I don't consider Motown black; I consider them half and half. Black people making white music. The Monotones, the Drifters, the Shirrelles, Fats . . . I mean, all those artists, not making it and around anymore. That's a big debt. But maybe it's only because nobody's doing it. We'll find out soonenough anyway.

    This story is from the November 1st, 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.
  14. Prime Time

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    Feb 9, 2014
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    Cumberland, Maryland

    Bob Dylan Talks: A Raw and Extensive First Rolling Stone Interview
    By Jann S. Wenner/November 29, 1969

    Bob Dylan on the cover of Rolling Stone

    They say Bob Dylan is the most secretive and elusive person in the entire rock & roll substructure, but after doing this interview, I think it would be closer to the point to say that Dylan, like John Wesley Harding, was "never known to make a foolish move."

    The preparations for the interview illustrates this well. About 18 months ago, I first started writing Bob letters asking for an interview, suggesting the conditions and questions and reasons for it. Then, a little over a year ago, the night before I left New York, a message came from the hotel operator that a "Mr. Dillon" had called.

    Two months later, I met Bob for the first time at another hotel in New York: He casually strolled in wearing a sheepskin outfit, leather boots, very well put together but not too tall, y'understand. It was 10 A.M. in the morning, and I rolled out of bed stark naked – sleep that way, y'understand – and we talked for half an hour about doing an interview, what it was for, why it was necessary. Bob was feeling out the situation, making sure it would be cool.

    That meeting was in the late fall of 1968. It took eight months – until the end of June this year – to finally get the interview. The meantime was covered with a lot of phone calls, near misses in New York City, Bob's trips to California which didn't take place and a lot of waiting and waiting for that right time when we were both ready for the show.

    The interview took place on a Thursday afternoon in New York City at my hotel, right around the corner from the funeral home where Judy Garland was being inspected by ten thousand people, who formed lines around several city blocks. We were removed from all that activity, but somehow it seemed appropriate enough that Judy Garland's funeral coincided with the interview.

    Bob was very cautious in everything he said, and took a long time between questions to phrase exactly what he wanted to say, nothing more and sometimes a little less. When I wasn't really satisfied with his answers, I asked the questions another way, later. But Bob was hip.

    Rather than edit the interview into tight chunks and long answers, I asked Sheryl to transcribe the tapes with all the pauses, asides and laughs left in. So, much of the time, it's not what is said, but how it is said, and I think you will dig it more just as it went down.

    To bring us up to date after all that, August through September was spent trying to get Baron together with Bob to get some new photographs of him, in a natural, non-performance situation. But it proved fruitless. Perhaps if we had had another six months to work on getting the photographs, but Bob was simply not to be rushed or pushed into something he really didn't feel like doing at the time. ("I'll have Baron meet you in New York tomorrow." "Well, tomorrow I might be in Tucson, Arizona," "Baron will fly to Tucson," etc.)

    The photographs we have used are from rehearsals for the Johnny Cash show and from the Isle of Wight, ones you probably have not seen yet, and some photos of Bob from a long time ago. Bob promised that we would get together soon to take some photos, and if we do, you'll see them as soon as we get them. But don't hold your breath.

    Meantime, here's the interview.

    When do you think you're gonna go on the road?
    November . . . possibly December.

    What kind of dates do you think you'll play concerts? Big stadiums or small concert halls?
    I'll play medium-sized halls.

    What thoughts do you have on the kind of back-up you're going to use?
    Well, we'll keep it real simple, you know . . . drums . . . bass . . . second guitar . . . organ . . . piano. Possibly some horns. Maybe some background voices.

    Girls? Like the Raelettes?
    We could use some girls.

    Do you have any particular musicians in mind at this time?
    To go out on the road? Well, I always have some in mind. I'd like to know a little bit more about what I'm gonna do. You see, when I discover what I'm gonna do, then I can figure out what kind of sound I want.

    I'd probably use . . . I'd want the best band around, you know?

    Are you going to use studio musicians or use some already existing band?
    I don't know . . . you see, it involves putting other people on the bill, full-time. I'd only probably use the Band again . . . if I went around.

    And they'd do the first half of the show?
    . . . Sure . . . sure . . .

    Are you thinking of bringing any other artists with you?
    Well, every so often we do think about that. [Laughter.] We certainly do. I was thinking about maybe introducing Marvin Rainwater or Slim Whitman to "my audience."

    Have you been in touch with either of them
    No . . . no.

    What did you think when you saw yourself on the Cash show?
    [Laughs.] Oh, I'd never see that . . . I can't stand to see myself on television. No.

    Did you dig doing it?
    I dig doing it, yeah. Well, you know, television isn't like anything else . . . it's also like the movie business, you know, where they call you and then you just sit around. So by the time you finally do something, you have to do it three or four times, and usually all the spirit's gone.

    You didn't watch it on TV?
    [Laughs.] I did watch it on TV . . . just because I wanted to see Johnny. I didn't realize they slowed Doug Kershaw down, too. They slowed his song down to . . . his song was like this . . . [taps out steady beat] . . . and they slowed him down to . . . [taps slow rhythm] . . . you know?

    Just by slowing down the tape?
    They just slowed him down. I don't know how. I don't know what happened. I think the band slowed him down or something, but boy, he was slowed down. During rehearsals and just sitting around, he played these songs . . . the way we was going at it, maybe 3/4 time, and they slowed him down to about 2/3 time, you know?

    Did you have any difficulty working with the TV people doing something like that?
    Oh no, no, they're wonderful people . . . they really are. It was by far the most enjoyable television program I've ever done. I don't do television just because you get yourself in such a mess . . . so I don't do it.

    You told me once that you were going to do a TV special?
    That's what I'm talking about.

    In Hollywood?
    No, I'm talking about CBS.

    In New York?
    Well, we don't know that yet. They don't have in mind exactly what they would like. They kind of leave it wide open, so we're trying to close the gap now.

    What do you have in mind for it?
    Oh, I just have some free-from type thing in mind. A lot of music.

    Presenting other artists?
    Sure . . . I don't mind. I don't know who, but . . .

    Why haven't you worked in so long?
    Well, uh . . . I do work.

    I mean on the road.
    On the road . . . I don't know, working on the road. . . . Well, Jann, I'll tell ya – I was on the road for almost five years. It wore me down. I was on drugs, a lot of things. A lot of things just to keep going, you know? And I don't want to live that way anymore. And uh . . . I'm just waiting for a better time – you know what I mean?

    What would you do that would make the tour that you're thinking about doing different from the ones you did do?
    Well, I'd like to slow down the pace a little. The one I did do . . . the next show's gonna be a lot different from the last show. The last show, during the first half, of which there was about an hour, I only did maybe six songs. My songs were long, long songs. But that's why I had to start dealing with a lot of different methods of keeping myself awake, alert . . . because I had to remember all the words to those songs. Now I've got a whole bag of new songs. I've written 'em for the road, you know. So I'll be doing all these songs on the road. They're gonna sound a lot better than they do on record. My songs always sound a lot better in person than they do on the record.

    Well, I don't know why. They just do.

    On Nashville Skyline who does the arrangements? The studio musicians, or . . .
    Boy, I wish you could've come along the last time we made an album. You'd probably enjoyed it . . . 'cause you see right there, you know how it's done. We just take a song; I play it and everyone else just sort of fills in behind it. No sooner you got that done, and at the same time you're doing that, there's someone in the control booth who's turning all those dials to where the proper sound is coming in . . . and then it's done. Just like that.

    Just out of rehearsing it? It'll be a take?
    Well, maybe we'll take about two times.

    Were there any songs on Nashville Skyline that took longer to take?
    I don't know . . . I don't think so. There's a movie out now, called Midnight Cowboy. You know the song on the album, "Lay, Lady, Lay"? Well, I wrote that song for that movie. These producers, they wanted some music for their movie. This was last summer. And this fellow there asked me, you know, if I could do some music for their movie. So I came up with that song. By the time I came up with it, though it was too late. [Laughs.] It's the same old story all the time. It's just too late . . . so I kept the song and recorded it.

    There's something going on with Easy Rider you wrote the lyrics for a song that Roger McGuinn wrote the music for, or something? Something . . . writing a song for Easy Rider, the Peter Fonda film? Were you involved in that at all?
    They used some of my music in it. They used a song of the Band's, too. They also used Steppenwolf music. I don't know anything more about it than that.

    Do you know which song of yours they used?
    "It's Alright, Ma" – but they had Roger McGuinn singing it.

    Have you been approached to write music for any other movies?

    Considering any of them?

    Why? Scripts?
    Ummmm . . . I don't know. I just can't seem to keep my mind on it. I can't keep my mind on the movie. I had a script awhile ago, that was called Zachariah and the Seven Cowboys. [Laughs.] That was some script. Every line in it was taken out of the Bible. And just thrown together. Then there was another one, called The Impossible Toy. Have you seen that? [Laughs] Yeah. Let's see, what else? Ummm . . . no, I'm not planning on doing any music for movies.

    When are you going to do another record?
    You mean when am I going to put out an album?

    Have you done another record?
    No . . . not exactly. I was going to try and have another one out by the fall.

    Is it done in Nashville again?
    Well, we . . . I think so . . . I mean it's . . . seems to be as good a place as any.

    What first got you involved with or attracted you to the musicians at the Columbia studios.
    Nashville? Well we always used them since Blonde on Blonde. Well, we didn't use Pete on Blonde on Blonde.

    What was Joe South like to work with?
    Joe South? Well he was quiet. He didn't say too much. I always did like him, though.

    Do you like his record?
    I love his records.

    That album, Introspect?
    Um-hmm, I always enjoyed his guitar playing. Ever since I heard him.

    Does he have any solos on Blonde on Blonde?
    Um-hmm. Yes he does. He has a . . . he's playing a high guitar lick on . . . well, if you named me the songs, I could tell you which one it was, but it's catchin' my mind at the moment. He was playing . . . he played a big, I believe it was a Gretsch, guitar – one of those Chet Atkins models. That's the guitar he played it on.

    "Absolutely Sweet Marie"?
    Yeah, it could've been that one. Or "Just Like a Woman". . . one of those. Boy, he just . . . he played so pretty.

    On Nashville Skyline, do you have any song on that that you particularly dig? Above the others.
    Uh . . . "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You." I like "Tell Me That It Isn't True," although it came out completely different than I'd written it. It came out real slow and mellow. I had it written as sort of a jerky, kind of polka-type thing. I wrote it in F. That's what gives it kind of a new sound. They're all in F . . . not all of them, but quite a few. There's not many on that album that aren't in F. So you see – I had those chords . . . which gives it a certain sound. I try to be a little different on every album.

    I'm sure you read the reviews of Nashville Skyline. Everybody remarks on the change of your singing style . . .
    Well Jann, I'll tell you something. There's not too much of a change in my singing style, but I'll tell you something which is true . . . I stopped smoking. When I stopped smoking, my voice changed . . . so drastically, I couldn't believe it myself. That's true. I tell you, you stop smoking those cigarettes [laughter] . . . and you'll be able to sing like Caruso.

    How many songs did you go into Nashville Skyline with?
    I went in with uhh . . . the first time I went into the studio I had, I think, four songs. I pulled that instrumental one out . . . I needed some songs with an instrumental . . . then Johnny came in and did a song with me. Then I wrote one in the motel . . . then pretty soon the whole album started fillin' in together, and we had an album. I mean, we didn't go down with that in mind. That's why I wish you were there . . . you could've really seen it happen. It just manipulated out of nothing.

    How many songs did you do with Johnny?
    Well, we did quite a few. We just sat down and started doing some songs . . . but you know how those things are. You get into a room with someone, you start playing and singing, and you sort of forget after a while what you're there for. [Laughs.]

    You must have a lotta songs with him on tape . . . are you thinking of putting out a collection of them?
    Well I'm not, no. But you usually have to leave those things in the hands of the producers.

    Is there one afoot?
    A tape?

    No, an album.
    No . . . not that I know of. If there was an album, I believe that we would both have to go back into the studio and record some more songs.

    There's not enough there already . . . or it's just not good enough?
    Well, it's uhh . . . what it comes down to is a choice of material. If they wanted an album – a joint album – they could probably get a lot more material with a broader range on it. If we went there with actually certain songs in mind to do . . . see, that didn't happen last time.

    How did you make the change . . . or why did you make the change, of producers, from Tom Wilson to Bob Johnston?
    Well, I can't remember, Jann. I can't remember . . . all I know is that I was out recording one day, and Tom had always been there – I had no reason to think he wasn't going to be there – and I looked up one day and Bob was there. [Laughs.]

    There's been some articles on Wilson and he says that he's the one that gave you the rock & roll sound . . . and started you doing rock & roll. Is that true?
    Did he say that? Well, if he said it . . . [laughs] more power to him. [Laughs.] He did to a certain extent. That is true. He did. He had a sound in mind.

    Have you ever thought of doing an album . . . a very arranged, very orchestrated album, you know, with chicks and . . . ?
    Gee, I've thought of it . . . I think about it once in a while. Yeah.

    You think you might do one?
    I do whatever comes naturally. I'd like to do an album like that. You mean using my own material and stuff?

    Yeah, using your own material but with vocal background and . . .
    I'd like to do it. Who wouldn't?

    When did you make the change from John Hammond . . . or what caused the change from John Hammond?
    John Hammond. He signed me in 1960. He signed me to Columbia Records. I think he produced my first album. I think he produced my second one, too.

    And Tom Wilson was also working at Columbia at the time?
    He was . . . you know, I don't recall how that happened . . . or why that switch took place. I remember at one time I was about to record for Don Law. You know Don Law? I was about to record for Don Law, but I never did. I met Don Law in New York, in 1962 . . . and again recently, last year when I did the John Wesley Harding album I met him down in the studio. He came in . . . he's a great producer. He produced many of the earlier records for Columbia and also for labels which they had before – Okeh and stuff like that. I believe he did the Robert Johnson records.

    What did you do in the year between Blonde on Blonde and John Wesley Harding?
    Well I was on tour part of that time . . . Australia, Sweden . . . an overseas tour. Then I came back . . . and in the spring of that year, I was scheduled to go out – it was one month off, I had a one-month vacation – I was gonna go back on the road again in July. Blonde on Blonde was up on the charts at this time. At that time I had a dreadful motorcyle accident . . . Which put me away for awhile . . . and I still didn't sense the importance of that accident till at least a year after that. I realized that it was a real accident. I mean I thought that I was just gonna get up and go back to doing what I was doing before . . . but I couldn't do it anymore.

    What did I do during that year? I helped work on a film . . . which was supposed to be aired on Stage 67, a television show which isn't on anymore . . . I don't think it was on for very long.

    What change did the motorcyle accident make?
    What change? Well, it . . . it limited me. It's hard to speak about the change, you know? It's not the type of change that one can put into words . . . besides the physical change. I had a busted vertebrae; neck vertebrae. And there's really not much to talk about. I don't want to talk about it.

    Laying low for a year . . . you must have had time to think. That was the ABC-TV show? What happened to the tapes of that? How come that never got shown?
    Well, I could make an attempt to answer that, but . . . [laughs] . . . I think my manager could probably answer it a lot better.

    I don't think he answers too many questions.
    Doesn't he? He doesn't answer questions? Well he's a nice guy. He'll usually talk to you if you show some enthusiasm for what you're talking about.

    So what happened to the tapes?
    You mean that film? As far as I know, it will be sold . . . or a deal will be made, for its sale. That's what I'm told. But you see, Jann, I don't hold these movie people in too high a position. You know this movie, Don't Look Back? Well, that splashed my face all over the world, that movie Don't Look Back. I didn't get a penny from that movie, you know . . . so when people say why don't you go out and work and why don't you do this and why don't you do that, people don't know half of what a lot of these producers and people, lawyers . . . they don't know the half of those stories. I'm an easy-going kind of fellow, you know . . . I'm forgive and forget. I like to think that way. But I'm a little shy of these people. I'm not interested in finding out anymore about any film.

    Did you like Don't Look Back?
    I'd like it a lot more if I got paid for it. [Laughter]

    There was supposed to be another film that Pennebaker shot I don't know when or where maybe it was the ABC film . . .
    That was it. Sure it was. That's the one you're talking about.

    Is it a good one?
    Well, we cut it fast on the eye. It's fast on the eye. I'd have to let you see it for yourself, to think about if it's a good one. I don't know if it's a good one. For me, it's too fast for the eye . . . but there are quite a few people who say it's really good. Johnny Cash is in it. John Lennon's in it. The Band's in it. Who else . . . a lot of different people from the European capitals of the world are in it.

    Princes and princesses? [Laughs].
    Well, not princesses, [laughs] but presidents [laughs] and people like that.

    What is the nature of your acquaintance with John Lennon?
    Oh, I always love to see John. Always. He's a wonderful fellow . . . and I always like to see him.

    He said that the first time that you met, in New York, after one of the concerts or something like that, it was a very uptight situation.
    It probably was, yes. Like, you know how it used to be for them. They couldn't go out of their room. They used to tell me you could hardly get in to see them. There used to be people surrounding them, not only in the streets, but in the corridors in the hotel. I should say it was uptight.

    How often have you seen them subsequently?
    Well, I haven't seen them too much recently.

    What do you think of the bed-ins for Peace? Him and Yoko.
    Well, you know . . . everybody's doing what they can do. I don't mind what he does, really . . . I always like to see him.

    Do you read the current critics? The music critics, so-called "rock & roll writers?"
    Well I try to keep up. I try to keep up-to-date . . . I realize I don't do a very good job in keeping up to date, but I try to. I don't know half the groups that are playing around now. I don't know half of what I should.

    Are there any that you've seen that you dig?
    Well I haven't seen any.

    I mean like Traffic, and . . .
    See, I never saw Traffic . . . I never even saw Cream. I feel bad about those things, but what can I do?

    See them? [Laughs.]
    Well, I can't now. I'm going to see this new group, called Blind Faith. I'm going to make it my duty to go see them . . . 'cause they'll probably be gone [laughter] in another year or so. So I'd better get up there quick and see them.

    Do you like Stevie Winwood singing?
    Oh sure, sure . . . Stevie Winwood, he came to see us in Manchester. Last time we were in Manchester . . . that was 1966. Or was it Birmingham? His brother – he's got a brother named Muff – Muff took us all out to see a haunted house, outside of Manchester, or Birmingham, one of those two. Or was it Newcastle? Something like that. We went out to see a haunted house, where a man and his dog was to have burned up in the 13th century. Boy, that place was spooky. That's the last time I saw Stevie Winwood.

    Have you been listening to his have you heard the Traffic records? The stuff that he's been doing lately?
    I heard them doing "Gimme Some Lovin'"; I love that. I didn't get all the names . . . after that. I seem to recall hearing a Traffic record. I know I've heard the Traffic . . . the group, Traffic, on the radio. I've heard that.

    Have you heard the San Francisco bands?
    Jefferson Airplane? Quicksilver Messenger Service. Yeah, I've heard them. The Grateful Dead.

    Do you like them?
    Yeah, sure do.

    Is there anything happening on the current rock & roll scene that strikes you as good?
    Yeah, I heard a record by Johnny Thunder. It's called "I'm Alive." Never heard it either, huh? Well, I can't believe it. Everyone I've talked to, I've asked them if they've heard that record.

    Is it on the radio right now?
    I don't know. I heard it on the radio a month ago, two months ago . . . three months ago. It was one of the most powerful records I've ever heard. It's called "I'm Alive." By Johnny Thunder. Well, it was that sentiment, truly expressed. That's the most I can say . . . if you heard the record, you'd know what I mean. But that's about all . . .

    Do you like the stuff that Ray Stevens is doing?
    Oh, I've always liked Ray Stevens. Sure.

    Have you had occasion to go to Memphis, you know, when you're down there . . . or Muscle Shoals or Pensacola, any of the great musical centers of the South?
    No, I've never been in any of the recording studios there.

    Have you ever met Ray Stevens?
    Uh, I've been in the same building with Ray Stevens, He was behind another door . . . but I've never met him; I've never shook his hand. No.

    I don't want to get nosy or get into your personal life . . . but there was a series recently in the Village Voice, about your growing up, living and going to high school. Did you read that series?
    Yeah I did. At least, I read some of it.

    Was it accurate?
    Well, it was accurate as far as this fellow who was writing it . . . this fellow . . . I wouldn't have read it if I thought . . . he was using me to write his story. So I feel a little unusual in this case, 'cause I can see through this writer's aims. But as far as liking it or disliking it, I didn't do neither of those things. I mean it's just publicity from where I am. So if they want to spend six or seven issues writing about me [laughs] . . . as long as they get it right, you know, as long as they get it in there, I can't complain.

    You must have some feelings about picking up a newspaper that has a hundred thousand circulation and seeing that some guy's gone and talked to your parents and your cousins, and uncles . . .
    Well, the one thing I did . . . I don't like the way this writer talked about my father who has passed away. I didn't dig him talking about my father and using his name. Now that's the only thing about the article I didn't dig. But that boy has got some lessons to learn.

    What did he say?
    That don't matter what he said. He didn't have no right to speak about my father, who has passed away. If he wants to do a story on me, that's fine. I don't care what he wants to say about me. But to uhh . . . I got the feeling that he was taking advantage of some good people that I used to know and he was making fun of a lot of things. I got the feeling he was making fun of quite a few things . . . this fellow, Toby. You know what I mean, Jann? Soooo . . . we'll just let that stand as it is . . . for now.

    I've gone through all the collected articles that have appeared, all the early ones and Columbia Records' biographies, that's got the story about running away from home at 11 and 12 and 13-one-half . . . why did you put out that story?
    I didn't put out any of those stories!

    Well, it's the standard Bob Dylan Biography . . . .
    Well, you know how it is, Jann . . . If you're sittin' in a room, and you have to have something done . . . I remember once, I was playing at Town Hall, and the producer of it came over with that biography. . . you know, I'm a songwriter, I'm not a biography writer, and I need a little help with these things.

    So if I'm sitting in a room with some people, and I say "Come on now, I need some help; gimme a biography," so there might be three or four people there and out of those three or four people maybe they'll come up with something, come up with a biography. So we put it down, it reads well, and the producer of the concert is satisfied. In fact, he even gets a kick out of it. You dig what I mean?

    But in actuality, this thing wasn't written for hundreds of thousands of people . . . it was just a little game for whoever was going in there and getting a ticket, you know, they get one of these things too. That's just show business. So you do that, and pretty soon you've got a million people who get it on the side. You know? They start thinkin' that it's written all for them. And it's not written for them – it was written for someone who bought the ticket to the concert. You got all these other people taking it too seriously. Do you know what I mean? So a lot of things have been blown out of proportion.

    At the time when all your records were out, and you were working and everybody was writing stories about you, you let that become your story . . . you sort of covered up your parents, and your old friends . . . you sort of kept people away from them . . .
    Did I?

    Well, that was the impression it gave . . .
    Jann, you know, my best friends . . . you're talking about old friends, and best friends . . . if you want to go by those standards, I haven't seen my best friends for over 15 years. You know what I mean?

    I'm not in the business of covering anything up. If I was from New Jersey, I could make an effort to show people my old neighborhood. If I was from Baltimore, same thing. Well, I'm from the Midwest, boy, that's two different worlds.

    This whole East Coast . . . there are a few similarities between the East Coast and the Midwest; and, of course, the people are similar, but it's a big jump. So, I came out of the Midwest, but I'm not interested in leading anybody back there. That's not my game.

    Why do you choose to live in the East?
    Well, because we're nearer New York now. We don't choose anything . . . we just go with the wind. That's it.

    Most people who become successful in records, especially artists, start wondering at some point about whether they're becoming businessmen, taking care of contracts and making money . . . did you ever get that?
    Yeah, I certainly did. I'd love to become a businessman, [laughs]. Love it.

    What do you think of the music business?
    I'd love to become a businessman in the music business.

    Doing what?
    Well, doing that same thing that other businessmen are doing . . . talking about recording, publishing, producing . . .

    Have you ever wanted to produce an album for some other artist?
    I have.

    Which one?
    Uhh . . . it's been a long time. I can't even remember which one. I saw somebody once, it was down in the Village. Anyway . . .

    Are there any artists around today that you'd like to produce?
    Well, there was some talk about producing Burt Lancaster doing the hymn "I Saw St. Augustine". . .

    Well, the movie business being what it is . . . going back to reviews that you've gotten for various albums; everybody has a lot of strange interpretations and decisions . . . have you ever read any criticisms about that that you liked or thought was accurate or possibly got close to what you were trying to do?
    Mmmmm . . . I can't say that I have. I don't recall. Like I say, Jann, I don't keep up with it as much as I should.

    At the time when Highway 61 and Bringing It All Back Home were coming out . . . do you remember anything from them?
    Do you?

    Yeah, the liner notes.
    What did you like about those liner notes?

    I think they were very groovy. They explained what was going on in the album, and how the album came to be recorded, and how it all came to be said. Why didn't you publish Tarantula?
    Why? Well . . . it's a long story. It begins with when I suddenly began to sell quite a few records, and a certain amount of publicity began to be carried in all the major news magazines about this "rising young star." Well, this industry being what it is, book companies began sending me contracts, because I was doing interviews before and after concerts, and reporters would say things like "What else do you write?" And I would say, "Well, I don't write much of anything else." And they would say, "Oh, come on. You must write other things. Tell us something else. Do you write books?" And I'd say, "Sure, I write books."

    After the publishers saw that I wrote books, they began to send me contracts . . . Doubleday, Macmillan, Hill and Range [laughter] . . . we took the biggest one, and then owed them a book. You follow me?

    But there was no book. We just took the biggest contract. Why? I don't know. Why I did, I don't know. Why I was told to do it, I don't know. Anyway, I owed them a book.

    So I sat down, and said, "Wow, I've done many things before, it's not so hard to write a book." So I sat down and wrote them a book in the hotel rooms and different places, plus I got a lot of other papers laying around that other people had written, so I threw it all together in a week and sent it to them.

    Well, it wasn't long after that when I got it back to proofread it. I got it back and I said, "My gosh, did I write this? I'm not gonna have this out." Do you know what I mean? "I'm not gonna put this out. The folks back home just aren't going to understand this at all." I said, "Well, I have to do some corrections on this," I told them, and set about correcting it. I told them I was improving it.

    Boy, they were hungry for this book. They didn't care what it was. They just wanted . . . people up there were saying, "Boy, that's the second James Joyce," and "Jack Kerouac again" and they were saying "Homer revisited" . . . and they were all just talking through their heads.

    They just wanted to sell books, that's all they wanted to do. It wasn't about anything . . . and I knew that – I figured they had to know that, they were in the business of it. I knew that, and I was just nobody. If I knew it, where were they at? They were just playing with me. My book.

    So I wrote a new book. I figured I was satisfied with it and I sent that in. Wow, they looked at that and said, "Well, that's another book." And I said, "Well, but it's better." And they said, "Okay, we'll print this." So they printed that up and sent that back to proofread it. So I proofread it – I just looked at the first paragraph – and knew I just couldn't let that stand. So I took the whole thing with me on tour. I was going to rewrite it all. Carried a typewriter around . . . around the world. Trying to meet this deadline which they'd given me to put this book out.

    They just backed me into a corner. A lot of invisible people. So finally, I had a deadline on it, and was working on it, before my motorcycle accident. And I was studying all kinds of different prints and how I wanted them to print the book, by this time. I also was studying a lot of other poets at this time . . . I had books which I figured could lead me somewhere . . . and I was using a little bit from everything.

    But still, it wasn't any book; it was just to satisfy the publishers who wanted to print something that we had a contract for. Follow me? So eventually, I had my motorcycle accident and that just got me out of the whole thing, 'cause I didn't care anymore. As it stands now, Jann, I could write a book. But I'm gonna write it first, and then give it to them. You know what I mean?

    Do you have any particular subject in mind, or plan, for a book?
    Do you?

    For yours or mine?
    [Laughs.] For any of them.

    What writers today do you dig? Like who would you read if you were writing a book? Mailer?
    All of them. There's something to be learned from them all.

    What about the poets? You once said something about Smokey Robinson . . .
    I didn't mean Smokey Robinson, I meant Arthur Rimbaud. I don't know how I could've gotten Smokey Robinson mixed up with Arthur Rimbaud, [laughter] but I did.

    Do you see Allen Ginsberg much?
    Not at all. Not at all.

    Do you think he had any influence on your songwriting at all?
    I think he did at a certain period. That period of . . . "Desolation Row," that kind of New York–type period, when all the songs were just "city songs." His poetry is city poetry. Sounds like the city.

    Before, you were talking about touring and using drugs. During that period of songs like "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Baby Blue," which a lot of writers have connected to the drug experience, not in the sense of them being "psychedelic music," or drug songs, but having come out of the drug experience.
    How so?

    In terms of perceptions. A level of perceptions . . . awareness of the songs . . .
    Awareness of the minute. You mean that?

    An awareness of the mind.
    I would say so.

    Did taking drugs influence the songs?
    No, not the writing of them, but it did keep me up there to pump 'em out.

    Why did you leave the city and city songs for the country and country songs?
    The country songs?

    The songs . . . you were talking about Highway 61 being a song of the city, and songs of New York City . . .
    What was on that album?

    Highway 61? "Desolation Row," "Queen Jane" . . .
    Well, it was also what the audiences wanted to hear, too . . . don't forget that. When you play every night in front of an audience, you know what they want to hear. It's easier to write songs then. You know what I'm talking about?

    Who do you think your current audience is? Who do you think you're selling records to? What kind of people?
    Well, I don't know. When I go out on the road, I'll find out, won't I?

    Did you get any indication of that from who showed up in the audience in Nashville?
    No, they were just people. Just people. I find every audience more or less the same, although you can have a certain attachment or disattachment for one because it may be bigger or smaller. But . . . people are just people.

    Many people writers, college students, college writers all felt tremendously affected by your music and what you're saying in the lyrics.
    Did they?

    Sure. They felt it had a particular relevance to their lives . . . I mean, you must be aware of the way that people come on to you.
    Not entirely. Why don't you explain to me.

    I guess if you reduce it to its simplest terms, the expectation of your audience the portion of your audience that I'm familiar with feels that you have the answer.
    What answer?

    Like from the film, Don't Look Back people asking you, "Why? What is it? Where is it?" People are tremendously hung-up on what you write and what you say, tremendously hung-up. Do you react to that at all? Do you feel responsible to those people?
    I don't want to make anybody worry about it . . . but boy, if I could ease someone's mind, I'd be the first one to do it. I want to lighten every load. Straighten out every burden. I don't want anybody to be hung-up . . . [laughs] especially over me, or anything I do. That's not the point at all.

    Let me put it another way. . . . What I'm getting at is that you're an extremely important figure in music and an extremely important figure in the experience of growing up today. Whether you put yourself in that position or not, you're in that position. And you must have thought about it . . . and I'm curious to know what you think about that . . .
    What would I think about it? What can I do?

    You wonder if you're really that person.
    What person?

    A great "youth leader". . .
    If I thought I was that person, wouldn't I be out there doing it? Wouldn't I be, if I thought I was meant to do that, wouldn't I be doing it? I don't have to hold back. This Maharishi, he thinks that– right? He's out there doing it. If I thought that, I'd be out there doing it. Don't you . . . you agree, right? So obviously, I don't think that.

    What do you feel about unwillingly occupying that position?
    I can see that position filled by someone else . . . not by . . . the position you're speaking of . . . I play music, man. I write songs. I have a certain balance about things, and I believe there should be an order to everything. Underneath it all I believe, also, that there are people trained for this job that you're talking about – "youth leader" type of thing, you know? I mean, there must be people trained to do this type of work. And I'm just one person, doing what I do. Trying to get along . . . staying out of people's hair, that's all.

    You've been also a tremendous influence on a lot of musicians and writers, they're very obviously affected by your style, the way you do things . . .

    Well, somebody like Phil Ochs, for example . . . a lot of people like that.
    Phil Ochs, uh . . . was around the same time I was, I remember when he came to town. He had his . . . he was doing his "Stand Tall Billy Sol"-type songs. I mean, he had it then. I think he made it, there being a certain amount of momentum – he pushed – from being on the scene. But he did bring his own thing in, when he came in. He didn't – as some people – come in as a dishwasher, to dig some sounds and suddenly put down the broom, and pick up the guitar. You know what I mean?

    I'm thinking also of other singers, of people who were singing before and playing the guitar.
    Do you see any influence in the Motown? All those things that the Motown records are doing now? Like "Runaway Child" and those kind of things. I mean, Motown wasn't doing those kind of records a few years ago, were they? What do you think they're doing, Jann? Are they really sincere and all that kind of thing?

    I think they're sincere about making good records, and they're going to sell a lot of them. I dig that. Do you like the Motown records?
    Well, yeah . . . I like them . . .

    Do you like the ones today better than the ones that they were doing before?
    Oh I have always liked the Motown records. Always. But because I like them so much, I see that change.

    Have you got anything to do with that change?
    Have I? Not that I know of.

    Do you think that you've played any role in the change of popular music in the last four years?
    I hope not. [Laughs.]

    Well, a lot of people say you have.
    [Laughs.] Well, you know, I'm not one to argue. [Laughs.]

    There's a lot of talk about you and Albert Grossman, your relationship with Albert Grossman, and whether he's going to continue to manage you.
    Well . . . as far as I know, things will remain the same, until the length of our contract. And if we don't sign another contract, or if he does not have a hand in producing my next concerts or have a hand in any of my next work, it's only because he's too busy. 'Cause he's got so many acts now . . . it's so hard for him to be in all places all the time. I mean you know, it's the old story . . . you can't be in two places at once. That old story. You know what I mean?

    When does your contract with him expire?
    Sometime this year.

    You were supposed to leave Columbia and sign with MGM? A million dollars . . . what happened to that?
    It . . . went up in smoke.

    Did you want a new label?
    I didn't, no.

    Who did?
    I believe my advisors.

    I take it you haven't had any recent trouble with Columbia, like you used to have in the beginning . . .
    No . . . no.

    Do you know approximately how many songs that you've recorded that have not been released? Like songs left over from recording John Wesley Harding or Blonde on Blonde? Do you have any idea how many?
    Well, we try to use them all. There may be a few lying around.

    What do you think was the best song, popular song, to come out last year?
    Uhh . . . I like that one . . . of Creedence Clearwater Revival – "Rolling on the River"?

    Any others?
    George Jones had one called "Small Town Laboring Man."

    You've been very reluctant to talk to reporters, the press and so on . .. why is that?
    Why would you think?

    Well, I know why you won't go on those things.
    Well, if you know why, you tell 'em . . . 'cause I find it hard to talk about. People don't understand how the press works. People don't understand that the press, they just use you to sell papers. And, in a certain way, that's not bad . . . but when they misquote you all the time, and when they just use you to fill in some story. And when you read it after, it isn'tanything the way you pictured it happening. Well, anyhow, it hurts. It hurts because you think you were just played for a fool. And the more hurts you get, the less you want to do it. Ain't that correct?

    Were there any writers that you met that you liked? That you felt did good jobs? Wrote accurate stories . . .
    On what?

    On you. For instance, I remember two big pieces one was in the New Yorker, by Nat Hentoff...
    Yeah, I like 'em. I like that. In a way, I like 'em all, whether I feel bad about 'em or not, in a way I like 'em all. I seldom get a kick out of them, Jann, but . . . I mean, I just can't be spending my time reading what people write. [Laughter.] I don't know anybody who can, do you?

    Do you set aside a certain amount of time during the day to . . . how much of the day do you think about songwriting and playing the guitar?
    Well, I try to get it when it comes. I play the guitar wherever I find one. But I try to write the song when it comes. I try to get it all . . . 'cause if you don't get it all, you're not gonna get it. So the best kinds of songs you can write are in motel rooms and cars . . . places which are all temporary. 'Cause you're forced to do it. Rather, it lets you go into it.

    You go into your kitchen and try to write a song, and you can't write a song – I know people who do this – I know some songwriters who go to work every day, at 8:30 and come home at 5:00. And usually bring something back . . . I mean, that's legal, too. It just depends on . . . how you do it. Me, I don't have those kind of things known to me yet, so I just get 'em when they come. And when they don't come, I don't try for it.

    There's been a lot of artists who have done your songs . . . songs that you have released and songs that you haven't released. Have you written any songs lately for any other artists to do, specifically for that artist? Or any of your old songs.
    I wrote "To Be Alone With You" – that's on Nashville Skyline – I wrote it for Jerry Lee Lewis. The one on Nashville Skyline. [Laughter.] He was down there when we were listening to the playbacks, and he came in. He was recording an album next door. He listened to it . . . I think we sent him a dub.

    "Peggy Day," I kind of had the Mills Brothers in mind when I did that one. [Laughter]

    Have you approached them yet? [Laughter.]
    No, unfortunately, I haven't.

    During what period of time did you write the songs on Nashville Skyline? During the month before you went down to do it or . . .
    Yeah, about a month before we did it. That's why it seemed to be all connected.

    I don't know, Jann. I don't know where I'm gonna be doing the next album. Sometimes I envy the Beatles . . . they just go down to the studio, and play around . . . I mean, you're bound to get a record. You know what I mean? Bound to get a record. Their studio is just a drive away . . . boy, I'd have an album out every month. I mean, how could you not?

    Have you ever thought about getting four- or eight-track equipment up where you live?
    Well, everyone's talking about that now. But it's just talk as far as I know. I would come to New York if I wanted to use the studio, because it's all here . . . if you need a good engineer, or if you need a song, or somebody to record it, an artist . . . whereas, some place like up in the country there, in the mountains, you could get a studio in, but that doesn't guarantee you anything else but the studio. You can get violin players, cello players, you can get dramatic readers . . . you can get anybody at the drop of a hat, in New York City. I imagine it's that way over in London, where the Beatles make their records. Anything they want to put on their record, they just call up and it's there. I'd like to be in that position.

    What do you look for when you make a record . . . I mean, what qualities, do you judge it by when you hear it played back?
    Ummmm . . . for the spirit. I like to hear a good lick once in a while. Maybe it's the spirit . . . don't you think so? I mean, if the spirit's not there, it don't matter how good a song it is or . . .

    What do you think of the current rock & roll groups doing all the country music?
    Well, once again, it really doesn't matter what kind of music they do, just so long as people are making music. That's a good sign. There are certainly more people around making music than there was when I was growing up. I know that.

    Do you find any that are particularly good country rock, or merely rock & roll bands, doing country material, using steel guitars?
    As long as it sounds good . . .

    Do any particular one of those groups appeal to you?
    Who . . . who are in those groups?

    Oh, Flying Burrito Brothers . . .
    Boy, I love them . . . the Flying Burrito Brothers, unh-huh. I've always known Chris, you know, from when he was in the Byrds. And he's always been a fine musician. Their records knocked me out. [Laughs.] That poor little hippie boy on his way to town . . . [laughs.]

    What about the Byrds . . . they did a country album . . .
    Sweetheart? Well, they had a distinctive sound, the Byrds . . . they usually were hanging in there . . .

    Of all the versions of "This Wheel's on Fire," which do you like the best?
    Uh . . . the Band's. Who else did it?

    Julie Driscoll . .. the Byrds did it.
    I remember hearing the Julie Driscoll one . . . I don't remember hearing the Byrds.

    What was the origin of that collection of songs, of that tape?
    The origin of it? What do you mean?

    Where was that done?
    Well that was done out in . . . out in somebody's basement. Just a basement tape. It was just for . . .

    Did you do most, did you write most of those songs, those demos, for yourself?

    And then decide against them?
    No, they weren't demos for myself, they were demos of the songs. I was being pushed again . . . into coming up with some songs. So, you know . . . you know how those things go.

    Do you have any artists in mind for any of those particular songs?
    No. They were just fun to do. That's all. They were a kick to do. Fact, I'd do it all again. You know . . . that's really the way to do a recording – in a peaceful, relaxed setting – in somebody's basement. With the windows open . . . and a dog lying on the floor.

    Let me explain something about this interview. If you give one magazine an interview, then the other magazine wants an interview. If you give one to one, then the other one wants one. So pretty soon, you're in the interview business . . . you're just giving interviews. Well, as you know, this can really get you down. Doing nothing but giving interviews.

    So the only way you can do it is to give press conferences. But you see, you have to have something to give a press conference about. Follow me? So that's why I don't give interviews. There's no mysterious reason to it, there's nothing organized behind it . . . it's just that if you give an interview to one magazine, then another one'll get mad.

    Why have you chosen to do this interview?
    'Cause this is a music paper. Why would I want to give an interview to Look magazine? Tell me, why?

    I don't know . . . to sell records.
    To sell records, I could do it. Right. But I have a gold record without doing it, do you understand me? Well, if I had to sell records, I'd be out there giving interviews to everybody. Don't you see? Mr. Clive Davis, he was president of Columbia Records, and he said he wouldn't be surprised if this last album sold a million units. Without giving one interview. Now you tell me, Jann, why am I going to go out and give an interview?

    To get hassled . . .
    Why would I want to go out and get hassled? If they're gonna pay me, I mean . . . who wants to do that? I don't.

    Do you have any idea how much money your publishing has brought in over the last five years?
    Well, now, that's difficult to answer because my songs are divided up into three, no, four companies. So there you have it. There you have it right there.

    Which companies?
    Well, I've got songs with Leeds Music. I've got songs with Whitmark Music. I've got a bunch of songs with Dwarf Music. I've got songs in Big Sky Music. So you see, my songs are divided up, so . . .

    Do you own Big Sky Music wholly yourself?
    It's my company. I chose to start this company.

    You put all the estimated income from those four companies together, or estimated gross income from publishing from those, it must be a considerable . . .
    Not as much as the Beatles.

    Yeah, but other than the Beatles?
    Not as much as those writers from Motown.

    Other than the writers from Motown . . .
    You know there are many more musical organizations than me. They've got staffs of writers bringing in more money than you can dream of.

    What songwriters do you like? Do you like any of the teams like Holland, Dozier, Holland or Hayes and Porter . . .
    Yeh, I do. I know that fellow – what's his name, Isaac Hayes? – he does a real nice song called "The Other Woman." I believe that's the title to it. It's on his album. I think it's on his new one. I don't believe he wrote it, though.

    Otis Redding was playing at the Whiskey A Go Go, a coupla years ago, you came in and talked to Otis. What was that all about?
    He was gonna do "Just Like A Woman." I played him a dub of it. I think he mighta cut it for a demo . . . I don't think he ever recorded it, though. He was a fine man.

    Why did you think "Just Like A Woman" would be a good song for him to do?
    Well, I didn't necessarily think it was a good song for him to do, but he asked me if I had any material. It just so happened that I had the dubs from my new album. So we went over and played it. I think he took a dub . . . that was the first and only time I ever met him.

    I take it that you dug Otis real well. Are there any other soul singers that you dig as much as Otis?
    You mean rhythm & blues pop? Well, you know I've always liked Mavis Staples ever since she was a little girl. She's always been my favorite . . . she's always had my favorite voice.

    Have you heard their new Stax album?
    I heard one of those . . . the ones they're doing with other people. Yeah, I heard that, that one that Pop Staples did. [Laughs.] It's ridiculous. Oh, Steve Cropper did do a nice song on that album . . . that he wrote, called "Water."

    On his own album?
    No, not on his own album. On the Jammed Together album. I find it interesting seeing . . . Mr. Staples being referred to as "Pop." [Laughter.]

    Have you heard the Steve Cropper solo album?
    Yeah, I heard that too.

    Do you like that?
    Sure. I've always dug Steve Cropper . . . his guitar playing. Ever since the first Booker T. record. I heard that back in the Midwest. Yeah, everybody was playing like him.

    What records of Otis' did you dig?
    I've got one that contained that song where he was born in a tent by the river – [hums and sings] "A Change Is Gonna Come." Yeah, I like that one.

    What is your day-to-day life like?
    Hmmmm . . . there's no way I could explain that to you, Jann. Every day is different. Depends on what I'm doing.

    Do you paint a lot?
    Well, I may be fiddling around with the car or I may be painting a boat, or . . . possibly washing the windows. I just do what has to be done. I play a lot of music, when there's a call in . . . I'm always trying to put shows together, which never come about. I don't know what it is, but sometimes we get together and I say, "Okay, let's take six songs and do 'em up." So we do six songs, we got 'em in, let's say, 40 minutes . . . we got a stopwatch timing 'em. But I mean nothing happens to it. We could do anything with it, but I mean . . .

    Boy, I hurried . . . I hurried for a long time. I'm sorry I did. All the time you're hurrying, you're not really as aware as you should be. You're trying to make things happen instead of just letting it happen. You follow me?

    That's the awkwardness of this interview.
    Well, I don't find anything awkward about it. I think it's going real great.

    The purpose of any interview is to let the person who's being interviewed unload his head.
    Well, that's what I'm doing.

    And trying to draw that out is . . .
    Boy, that's a good . . . that'd be a great title for a song. "Unload my head. Going down to the store . . . going down to the corner to unload my head." I'm gonna write that up when I get back [laughter], "Going to Tallahassee to unload my head."

    What do you think can happen with your career as a singer?
    What are the possibilities?

    Go on the road, continue to make records . . . for instance, do you foresee continuing to make records?
    If they're enjoyable. I'm going to have to receive a certain amount of enjoyment out of my work pretty soon. I'd like to keep a little closer to the studios than I am now. It's awful hard for me to make records when I've got to go 4,000 miles away, you know? Like I say, when you do have these companies around who're just there to serve . . .

    Are you thinking of moving to Nashville? I mean that would be . . .
    Well, if I moved to Nashville, I'd still have to book studio time, wouldn't I?

    But still, you'd have the accessibility of the session men and the engineers . . .
    That's true. But I'd have to do everything with that same sound, wouldn't I? I couldn't really use a variety of techniques.

    Can you see a time when you would stop making records?
    Well, let's put it this way: Making a record isn't any more than just recording a song, for me. Well, that's what it's been up 'til now. Not necessarily going into the studio for any other reason than to record a song. So, if I was to stop writing songs, I would stop recording. Or let's say, if I was to stop singing, I guess I would stop recording. But I don't forsee that. I'll be recording, 'cause that's a way for me to unload my head.

    You said in one of your songs on Highway 61 . . . "I need a dump truck, mama, to unload my head." Do you still need a dump truck or something? [Laughter.]
    What album was that?

    It was on Highway 61. What I'm trying to ask is what are the changes that have gone on between the time you did Highway 61 and Nashville Skyline or John Wesley Harding?
    The changes. I don't think I know exactly what you mean.

    How has life changed for you? Your approach to . . . your view of what you do . . .
    Not much. I'm still the same person. I'm still uhh . . . going at it in the same old way. Doing the same old thing.

    Do you think you've settled down, and slowed down?
    I hope so. I was going at a tremendous speed . . . at the time of my Blonde on Blonde album, I was going at a tremendous speed.

    How did you make the change? The motorcycle accident?
    I just took what came. That's how I made the changes. I took what came.

    What do they come from?
    What was what coming from? Well, they come from the same sources that everybody else's do. I don't know if it comes from within oneself anymore than it comes from without oneself. Or outside of oneself. Don't you see what I mean? Maybe the inside and the outside are both the same. I don't know. But, I feel it just like everyone else. What's that old line – there's a line from one of those old songs out . . . "I can recognize it in others, I can feel it in myself." You can't say that's from the inside or the outside, it's like both.

    What people do you think from the outside have influenced a change?
    Uhh . . . what change are you talking about?

    The change from Highway 61 to Nashville Skyline . . .
    I'm not probably as aware of that change as you are, because I haven't listened to that album Highway 61 . . . I'd probably do myself a lot of good going back and listening to it. I'm not aware of that change. I probably could pinpoint it right down if I heard that album, but I haven't heard it for quite a while.

    Are there any old albums that you do listen to?
    Well, I don't sit around and listen to my records, if that's what you mean.

    Like picking up a high school yearbook, and just . . .
    Oh, I love to do that . . . every once in a while. That's the way I listen to my records – every once in a while. Every once in a while I say, "Well, I'd like to see that fellow again."

    Are there any albums or tracks from the albums that you think now were particularly good?
    On any of my old albums? Uhh . . . as songs or as performances?

    Oh, yeah, quite a few.

    Which ones?
    Well, if I was performing now . . . if I was making personal appearances, you would know which ones, because I would play them. You know? But I don't know which ones I'd play now. I'd have to pick and choose. Certainly couldn't play 'em all.

    Thinking about the titles on Bringing It All Back Home.
    I like "Maggie's Farm." I always liked "Highway 61 Revisited." I always liked that song. "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Blowing In the Wind" and "Girl From the North Country" and "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "Times They Are A'Changing'". . . I liked "Ramona.". . .

    Where did you write "Desolation Row"? Where were you when you wrote that?
    I was in the back of a taxicab.

    In New York?

    During the period where you were recording songs with a rock & roll accompaniment, with a full-scale electric band, of those rock & roll songs that you did, which do you like?
    The best rock & roll songs . . . which ones are there?

    Uhh . . . "Like A Rolling Stone". . .
    Yeah, I probably liked that the best.

    And that was the Tom Wilson record . . . how come you never worked with that collection of musicians again?
    Well, Michael Bloomfield, he was touring with Paul Butterfield at that time . . . and I could only get 'im when I could. So I wouldn't wait on Michael Bloomfield to make my records. He sure does play good, though. I missed having him there, but what could you do?

    In talking about the songs as performances, which of the performances that you did, that were recorded . . .
    I like "Like a Rolling Stone" . .. I can hear it now, now that you've mentioned it. I like that sound. You mean, which recorded performances?

    Yeah, I mean in your performance of the song . . .
    Oh . . . I like some of them on the last record, but I don't know, I tend to close up in the studio. After I've . . . I could never get enough presence on me. Never really did sound like me, to me.

    On Nashville Skyline, you see a lot of echo, and a lot of limiting. What made you decide to alter your voice technically and use those kind of studio tricks? Rather than doing it more or less flat.
    Well, how would you have liked it better? Would you have liked it flat?

    I dig the echo.
    I do, too. I dig the echo myself. That's why . . . we did it that way. The old records do sound flat. I mean there's just a flatness to them, they're like two-dimensional. Isn't that right? Well in this day and age, there's no reason to make records like that.

    "Nashville Skyline Rag" was that a jam that took place in a studio, or did you write the lyrics before? . . .
    Ummm . . . I had that little melody quite a while before I recorded it.

    There's a cat named Alan Weberman who writes in the East Village Other. He calls himself the world's leading Dylanologist. You know him?
    No . . . oh, yes, I did. Is this the guy who tears up all my songs? Well, he oughta take a rest. He's way off. I saw something he wrote about "All Along the Watchtower," and boy, let me tell you, this boy's off. Not only did he create some type of fantasy – he had Allen Ginsberg in there – he couldn't even hear the words to the song right. He didn't hear the song right. Can you believe that? I mean this fellow couldn't hear the words . . . or something. I bet he's a hard-working fellow, though. I bet he really does a good job if he could find something to do but it's too bad it's just my songs, 'cause I don't really know if there's enough material in my songs to sustain someone who is really out to do a big job. You understand what I mean?

    I mean a fellow like that would be much better off writing about Tolstoy, or Dostoevesky, or Freud . . . doing a really big analysis of somebody who has countless volumes of writings. But here's me, just a few records out. Somebody devoting so much time to those few records, when there's such a wealth of material that hasn't even been touched yet, or hasn't even been heard or read . . . that escapes me. Does it escape you?

    I understand putting time into it, but I read this, in this East Village Other; I read it . . . and it was clever. And I got a kick out of reading it [laughter] on some level, but I didn't want to think anybody was taking it too seriously. You follow me?

    He's just representative of thousands of people who do take it seriously.
    Well, that's their own business. Why don't I put it that way. That's their business and his business. But . . . I'm the source of that and I don't know if it's my business or not, but I'm the source of it. You understand? So I see it a little differently than all of them do.

    People in your audience, they obviously take it very seriously, and they look to you for something . . .
    Well, I wouldn't be where I am today without them. So, I owe them . . . my music, which I would be playing for them.

    Does the intensity of some of the response annoy you?
    No. No, I rather enjoy it.

    I'm trying to get back to the thing about being a symbol of youth culture, being a spokesman for youth culture . . . what're your opinions or thoughts on that? At some point you pick up the paper or the magazine and find out that this is happening and you know that you're considered like this that people are watching you for that . . . and you've got to say to yourself, "Am I hung-up?"
    Well, not any more than anybody else is who performs in public. I mean, everyone has his following.

    What do you think your following is like?
    Well, I think there are all kinds . . . I imagine they're . . . you would probably know just as much about that as I would. You know, they're all kinds of people. I remember when I used to do concerts, you couldn't pin 'em down. All the road managers and the sound equipment carriers, and even the truck drivers would notice how different the audiences were, in terms of individual people. How different they . . . like sometimes I might have a concert and all the same kind of people show up, I mean, what does that mean?

    Did you vote for President?
    We got down to the polls too late [laughter].

    People are always asking about what does this song mean and what does that song mean, and a lot of them seem to be based on some real person, just like any kind of fiction, you expect . . . are there any songs that you can relate to particular people, as having inspired the song?
    Not now I can't.

    What do you tell somebody who says, "What is 'Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat' about?"
    It's just about that. I think that's something I mighta taken out of the newspaper. Mighta seen a picture of one in a department store window. There's really no more to it than that. I know it can get blown up into some kind of illusion. But in reality, it's no more than that. Just a leopard skin pillbox. That's all.

    How did you come in contact with the Band?
    Well. There used to be this young lady that worked up at Al Grossman's office – her name was Mary Martin, she's from Canada. And she was a rather persevering soul, as she hurried around the office on her job; she was a secretary; did secretarial work, and knew all the bands and all the singers from Canada. She was from Canada. Anyway, I needed a group to play electric songs.

    Where did you hear them play?
    Oh, I never did hear them play. I think the group I wanted was Jim Burton and Joe Osborne. I wanted Jim Burton, and Joe Osborne to play bass, and Mickey Jones. I knew Mickey Jones, he was playing with Johnny Rivers. They were all in California, though. And there was some difficulty in making that group connect. One of them didn't want to fly, and Mickey couldn't make it immediately, and I think Jim Burton was playing with a television group at that time.

    He used to play with Ricky Nelson?
    Oh, I think this was after that. He was playing with a group called the Shindogs, and they were on television. So he was doing that job. Anyway, that was the way it stood, and Mary Martin kept pushing this group who were out in New Jersey – I think they were in Elizabeth, New Jersey or Hartford, Connecticut, or some town close to around New York. She was pushing them, and she had two of the fellows come up to the office, so we could meet. And it was no more . . . no more, no less. I just asked them if they could do it and they said they could. [Laughs.] These two said they could. And that was how it started. Easy enough, you know.

    How come you never made an album with them?
    We tried. We cut a couple sides in the old New York Columbia studios. We cut two or three and right after "Positively 4th Street," we cut some singles and they didn't really get off the ground. You oughta hear 'em. You know, you could find 'em. They didn't even make it on the charts.

    Consequently, I've not been back on the charts since the singles. I never did much care for singles, 'cause you have to pay so much attention to them. Unless you make your whole album full of singles. You have to make them separately. So I didn't really think about them too much that way.

    But, playing with the Band was a natural thing. We have a real different sound. Real different. But it wasn't like anything heard. I heard one of the records recently . . . it was on a jukebox. "Please Crawl Out Your Window."

    That was one of them? What were the others?
    There were some more songs out of that same session . . . "Sooner or Later" – that was on Blonde on Blonde. That's one of my favorite songs.

    What role did you play in the Big Pink album, the album they made by themselves.
    Well, I didn't do anything on that album. They did that with John Simon.

    Did you play piano on it or anything?

    What kind of sound did you hear when you went in to make John Wesley Harding?
    I heard the sound that Gordon Lightfoot was getting, with Charlie McCoy and Kenny Buttrey. I'd used Charlie and Kenny both before, and I figured if he could get that sound, I could. But we couldn't get it. [Laughs.] It was an attempt to get it, but it didn't come off. We got a different sound . . . I don't know what you'd call that . . . it's a muffled sound.

    There used to be a lot of friction in the control booth, on these records I used to make. I didn't know about it, I wasn't aware of them until recently. Somebody would want to put limiters on this and somebody would want to put an echo on that, someone else would have some other idea. And myself, I don't know anything about any of this. So I just have to leave it up in the air. In someone else's hands.

    The friction was between the engineer and the producer . . .
    No, the managers and the advisors and the agents.

    Do you usually have sessions at which all these people are there, or do you prefer to close them up?
    Well, sometimes there's a whole lot of people. Sometimes you can't even move there's so many people . . .other times, there's no one. Just the musicians.

    Which is more comfortable for you?
    Well, it's much more comfortable when there's . . . oh, I don't know, I could have it both ways. Depends what kind of song I'm gonna do. I might do a song where I want all those people around. Then I do another song, and have to shut the lights off, you know?

    Was "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" originally planned as a whole side?
    That song is an example of a song . . . it started out as just a little thing, "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," but I got carried away, somewhere along the line. I just sat down at a table and started writing. At the session itself. And I just got carried away with the whole thing . . . I just started writing and I couldn't stop. After a period of time, I forgot what it was all about, and I started trying to get back to the beginning [laughs]. Yeah.

    Did you plan to go down and make a double record set?
    No. Those things just happen when you have the material.

    Do you like that album?
    Blonde on Blonde? Yeah. But like I always think that a double set could be made into a single album. But I dug Blonde on Blonde and the Beatles thing. They are like huge collections of songs. But a real great record can usually be compacted down . . . although the Beatles have that album, and Blonde on Blonde . . . I'm glad that there's two sides, that there's that much . . .
    How long did that take to record?
    Blonde on Blonde? Well, I cut it in between. I was touring and I was doing it whenever I got a chance to get into the studio. So it was in the works for awhile. I could only do maybe two or three songs at a time.

    How long did John Wesley Harding take?
    You mean how many sessions? That took three sessions, but we did them in a month. The first two sessions were maybe three weeks to a month apart, and the second one was about two weeks from the third.

    John Wesley Harding why did you call the album that?
    Well, I called it that because I had that song, "John Wesley Harding." It didn't mean anything to me. I called it that, Jann, 'cause I had the song "John Wesley Harding," which started out to be a long ballad. I was gonna write a ballad on . . . like maybe one of those old cowboy . . . you know, a real long ballad. But in the middle of the second verse, I got tired. I had a tune, and I didn't want to waste the tune, it was a nice little melody, so I just wrote a quick third verse, and I recorded that.

    But it was a silly little song [laughs] . . . I mean, it's not a commercial song, in any kind of sense. At least, I don't think it is. It was the one song on the album which didn't seem to fit in. And I had it placed here and there, and I didn't know what I was gonna call the album anyway. No one else had any ideas either. I placed it last and I placed it in the middle somewhere, but it didn't seem to work. So somehow that idea came up to just put it first and get done with it right away, and that way when it comes up, no one'll . . . you know, if someone's listening to "All Along the Watchtower" and that comes up, and they'll say, "Wow, what's that?" [Laughs.]

    You knew that cowboy . . .
    I knew people were gonna be brought down when they heard that, and say, "Wow," what's that?" You know a lot of people said that to me, but I knew it in front. I knew people were gonna listen to that song and say that they didn't understand what was going on, but they would've singled that song out later, if we hadn't called the album John Wesley Hardingand placed so much importance on that, for people to start wondering about it . . . if that hadn't been done, that song would've come up and people would have said it was a throw-away song. You know, and it would have probably got in the way of some other songs.

    See, I try very hard to keep my songs from interfering with each other. That's all I'm trying to do. Place 'em all out on the disc. Sometimes it's really annoying to me, when I listen to all these dubs; I listen to one, and then I put on another one, and the one I heard before is still on my mind. I'm trying to keep away from that.

    Why did you choose the name of the outlaw John Wesley Harding?
    Well, it fits in tempo. Fits right in tempo. Just what I had at hand.

    What other titles did you have for the album?
    Not for that one. That was the only title that came up for that one. But for the Nashville Skyline one, the title came up John Wesley Harding, Volume II. We were gonna do that . . . the record company wanted to call the album Love Is All There Is. I didn't see anything wrong with it, but it sounded a little spooky to me . . .

    What about Blonde on Blonde?
    Well, that title came up when . . I don't even recall how exactly it came up, but I do know it was all in good faith. It has to do with just the word. I don't know who thought of that. I certainly didn't.

    Of all the albums as albums, excluding your recent ones, which one do you think was the most successful in what it was trying to do? Which was the most fully realized, for you?
    I think the second one. The second album I made.

    Well, I got a chance to . . . I felt real good about doing an album with my own material. My own material and I picked a little on it, picked the guitar, and it was a big Gibson – I felt real accomplished on that. "Don't Think Twice." Got a chance to do some of that. Got a chance to play in open tuning . . . "Oxford Town," I believe that's on that album. That's open tuning. I got a chance to do talking blues. I got a chance to do ballads, like "Girl From the North Country." It's just because it had more variety. I felt good at that.

    Of the electric ones, which do you prefer?
    Well, sound-wise, I prefer this last one. 'Cause it's got the sound. See, I'm listening for sound now.

    As a collection of songs?
    Songs? Well, this last album maybe means more to me, 'cause I did undertake something. In a certain sense. And . . . there's a certain pride in that.

    It was more premeditated than the others? I mean, you knew what you were gonna go after?

    Where did the name Nashville Skyline . . .
    Well, I always like to tie the name of the album in with some song. Or if not some song, some kind of general feeling. I think that just about fit because it was less in the way, and less specific than any of the other ones on there.

    Certainly couldn't call the album Lay, Lady Lay. I wouldn't have wanted to call it that, although that name was brought up. It didn't get my vote, but it was brought up. Peggy Day Lay, Peggy Day, that was brought up. A lot of things were brought up. Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With Peggy Day. That's another one. Some of the names just didn't seem to fit.Girl From the North Country. That was another title which didn't really seem to fit. Picture me on the front holding a guitar and Girl From the North Country printed on top. [Laughs.] Tell Me That It Isn't Peggy Day. I don't know who thought of that one.

    What general thing was happening that made you want to start working with the Band, rather than working solo?
    I only worked solo, because there wasn't much going on. There wasn't. There were established people around . . . yeah, The Four Seasons . . . there were quite a few other established acts. But I worked alone because it was easier to. Plus, everyone else I knew was working alone, writing and singing. There wasn't much opportunity for groups or bands then; there wasn't. You know that.

    When did you decide to get one together, like that? You played at Forest Hills, that was where you first appeared with a band? Why did you feel the time had come?
    To do that? Well, because I could pay a backing group now. See, I didn't want to use a backing group unless I could pay them.

    Do you ever get a chance to work frequently with the Band? In the country.
    Work? Well, work is something else. Sure, we're always running over old material. We're always playing, running over old material. New material . . . and different kinds of material. Testing out this and that.

    What do you see yourself as a poet, a singer, a rock & roll star, married man . . .
    All of those. I see myself as it all. Married man, poet, singer, songwriter, custodian, gatekeeper . . . all of it. I'll be it all. I feel "confined" when I have to choose one or the other. Don't you?

    You're obligated to do one album a year?

    Is that all you want to do?
    No, I'd like to do more. I would do dozens of them if I could be near the studio. I've been just lazy, Jann. I've been just getting by, so I haven't really thought too much about putting out anything really new and different.

    You've heard the Joan Baez album of all your songs . . .
    Yeah, I did . . . I generally like everything she does.

    Are there any particular artists that you like to see do your songs?
    Yeah, Elvis Presley. I liked Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley recorded a song of mine. That's the one recording I treasure the most' . . . it was called "Tomorrow Is a Long Time." I wrote it but never recorded it.

    Which album is that on?

    I'm not familiar with it at all.
    He did it with just guitar.

    This story is from the November 29, 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.
  15. Prime Time

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    Feb 9, 2014
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    Cumberland, Maryland
    The Rolling Stone Interview With Axl Rose
    Rolling Stone, August 1989
    By Del James

    One guitar has been destroyed, a mirror wall shattered, several platinum albums broken beyond repair and the telephone dropped off a twelfth-story balcony. Apparently, W. Axl Rose had to get something out of his system.

    Just two weeks ago, everything in Rose's posh condo in West Hollywood, California, was in order. The mirror was intact, reflecting a space in which almost everything - including the refrigerator - is black. The platinum albums, along with dozens of plaques and awards, hung neatly on the wall.

    So what happened? On the surface one would think that the twenty-seven-year-old singer for the hard-rock phenomenon Guns n' Roses has it made. After all, there's a new BMW, a new condo, a parcel of land in Wisconsin on which he plans to build his dream house and, of course, the adoration of millions. One would think that life for Rose is pure rock & roll bliss. But one would be wrong.

    Rose doesn't want to discuss exactly what set him off and made him destroy his belongings. But it becomes clear as he talks that a lot of it has to do with suddenly being famous.

    "When I was growing up, I was never really popular," he says. "Now everybody wants to be my friend. I like my privacy, to live alone in my own little world. I live in a security building, and all my calls are screened. I don't even know my own phone number." Tucked tightly behind a couch is an Uzi semiautomatic machine gun; nearby is a 9-mm pistol. "I'm not paranoid," he says, explaining his fondness for weapons. "This is how I choose to live. This is comfortable."

    He wasn't always so comfortable. The eldest of three children raised in Lafayette, Indiana, Rose hitchhiked to Los Angeles, hoping to hook up with guitarist Izzy Stradlin, a long time friend, and form a band. The two struggled on the L.A. club circuit for years. Eventually, the duo met guitarist Slash and drummer Steven Adler, Later, Duff McKagan responded to a classified ad for a bassist, and Guns N' Roses were born.

    The band's early gigs were tough going. Only two people showed up for the group's first "official" LA performance. Over the following months, a series of frenzied, violent shows landed the Gunners on the crap list of everyone, including club owners, rival bands and the press - everyone but the fans, who grew in number with each passing gig. After playing together for about a year and building a strong following, Guns N' Roses were signed by Geffen Records in March 1986 by A&R man Tom Zutaut.

    The band's debut, Appetite for Destruction,, and its quickly released follow-up record, the extended EP G n'R Lies, have put Guns N' Roses at the top of the hard-rock heap. The records have sold upward of 12 million copies combined, as well as simultaneously charting Billboard's Top Five - a feat no one else has accomplished in the last decade.

    Sitting on a black Persian rug, chain-smoking Marlboros and sipping Corona beers, the singer welcomes any and all questions about the band. His onstage roar is replaced by a soft-spoken tone, but nonetheless he can be brutal in his honesty.

    A few years ago you were a poor kid in a struggling rock band, and today you're in one of the most popular groups in the world. How have you adjusted to your success?

    Trying to handle success is a pain in the ass. It's really strange and takes some getting used to. I've never had my place to live before, never had to deal with the amount of money we've made and not get ripped off, never understood doing your taxes and all these things. I was hating it a few months ago, trying to get organized and trying to get a place to live and to get a grip on everything. But now things are coming together. I've wanted to be here my whole life.

    Did you ever in your wildest dreams think your first album AFD would do as well as it did?

    Thought about it a lot.

    Besides dreaming about it, did you ever believe it had a real chance to sell 9 million copies?

    No, but it was like this: I thought about trying to sell more records than Boston's first album. I always thought that and never let up. Everything was directed at trying to achieve the sales without sacrificing the credibility of our music. We worked real hard to sell this many records. The album wasn't just a fluke. Maybe Appetite will be the only good album we make, but it wasn't just a fluke.

    Does the business end of rock & roll ever interfere with your creative attitude?

    Not for us. This is music, this is art. It's definitely a good business, but that should be second to the art, not first. I was figuring it out, and I'm like the president of a company that's worth between $125 million and a quarter billion dollars. If you add up record sales based on the low figure and a certain price for T-shirts and royalties and publishing, you come up with at least $125 million, which I get less than two percent of.

    I like being successful. I was always starving. On the other side. When it came to people with money, it was always "The rich? freak them!" But I left one group and joined another. I escaped from one group where I was looked down on for being a poor kid that doesn't know crap, and now I'm like, a rich, successful icehole. I don't like that. I'm still just me, and with a lot of people's help, the group was able to become a huge financial success. None of us were the popular kids in school - we were all outcasts who got together and pooled our talents.

    Is there any lesson you've learned that you wish you knew a few years ago?

    What I'd tell any kid in high school is "Take business classes." I don't care what else you're gonna do, if you're gonna do art or anything, take business classes. You can say, "Well, I don't want to get commercial," but if you do anything to make any money, you're doing something commercial. You can be flipping hamburgers at McDonald's, but you're a commercial burger flipper.

    Now the band is getting ready to work on the follow-up to 'Appetite' and the 'G n' R Lies' EP. What's your frame of mind?

    As my friend Dave puts it, I'm jacking off. [laughs] We're trying to regroup. I'm ready to work. I'm creating, and finally I have an environment in which I can work. I haven't had that for a long time, since three years ago, when we all used to live in one room, sitting around writing songs. Until recently, I haven't had peace of mind. There were always distractions, but now it's like we can finally work on our songs.

    Do you feel heavy pressure to sell as many copies with your next album as 'Appetite'?

    We have two records out, both of them in the Top Ten, and everybody wants another record immediately. They all say, "Let's milk this sucker." It'd be nice to outsell that album. A lot of groups are trying to outsell it. For a debut, it was the highest-selling album in the history of rock and roll. Definitely in America, but I'm not sure that's true worldwide. I read where Bon Jovi was saying nobody's out done their biggie, Slippery When Wet. He knew it was their biggie, and he didn't know if New Jersey would be as big. Of course, you're gonna want to outdo it. What I want to do is just grow as an artist and feel proud of these new songs.

    Although you're only in the preproduction stages of the next album, how do you feel it will compare with the others?

    The next record will definitely be much more emotional. I try to write so the audience can understand what emotions I was feeling. Also, I think the songs are worded in a way that a great number of people will be able to relate to the experiences; it's not so personalized that it's only my weird, twisted point of view. We hope to make a very long record. It'd be nice to make one that's seventy-six minutes long, A seventy-six-minute CD, with varied styles.

    The most important songs at this point are the ones with piano, the ballads, because we haven't really explored that side of the band yet. They're also the most difficult songs to do - not difficult to play, but to write and pull out of ourselves. The beautiful music is what really makes me feel like an artist. The other, heavier stuff also makes me feel like an artist and can be difficult to write. But it's harder to write about serious emotions, describing them as best as possible rather than trying to write a syrupy ballad just to sell records.

    Any specific titles for the next album you can talk about?

    Well, there's a song called "November Rain" and another one called ""Breakdown". There's also a song tentatively titled "Without You". Last night, I wrote a whole new intro to that. It just appeared out of nowhere, like the verses - just little pieces that have come whole.

    How do write complete songs from separate bits and pieces?

    They'll just show up. I keep them on file in my brain and then add them together. Like, I'll be brushing my teeth and all of a sudden a prechorus will come, and I won't know why. Then a bridge came about a year ago. Six months ago another part came. Last night a whole intro came. When I was writing it, I wasn't planning on putting it with this song, but all of a sudden it just flowed.

    The 'G n' R Lies' EP surprised a lot of people because of it's emphasis on acoustic material. Aren't you afraid that some people may be turned off by the band straying from the sound that got them on top?

    We're not getting away from hard rock. Our basic root is hard rock, a bit heavier than the Stones, more in a vein like Aerosmith, Draw the Line- type stuff. We love loud guitars. George Michael was telling me he really loved our melodies and wondered why we covered so much of it up with loud guitars, and I said because we love that. I told him he should put some more loud guitars in his music. He has such beautiful melodies, and it'd be nice to hear some loud guitars in there. At the same time, I have my favorite symphony pieces, orchestra pieces if you will.

    I've always looked at things in a versatile sense because of Queen, ELO, Elton John, especially early Elton John and groups like that. With Queen, I have my favorite: Queen II. Whenever their newest record would come out and have all these other kinds of music on it, at first I'd only like this song or that song. But after a period of time listening to it, it would open my mind up to so many different styles. I really appreciate them for that. That's something I've always wanted to be able to achieve. It's important to show people all forms of music, basically try to give people a broader point of view.

    Speaking of versatility, you're known primarily as a singer, but you've been playing piano quite a bit lately.

    I've been playing piano my whole life. I took lessons, but I only really played my lesson on the day of the lesson. All week long, I'd sit down at the piano and just make up stuff. To this day, I still can't really play other people's songs, only my own. I haven't had a piano for years. I couldn't afford one. I couldn't figure out where I was sleeping at night, let alone try to have a place for a piano. So I had to put it aside and have the dream that I'd get into it. Now I really want to bring the piano out.

    So far the song that's inspired the most controversy in the band's short career has been "One in a Million." How did you come to write that song?

    "One in a Million" was written while sitting in the apartment of my friend West Arkeen, who's like the sixth member of the band. I wrote it at his house, sitting around bored watching TV. I can't really play guitar too well, I only play the top two strings, and I would write a little piece at a time. I started writing about wanting to get out of LA , getting away for a little while. I'd been down to the downtown-L.A. Greyhound bus station. If you haven't been there, you can't say crap to me about what goes on and about my point of view.

    There are a large number of black men selling stolen jewelry, crack, heroin and pot, and most of the drugs are bogus. Rip-off artists selling parking spaces to parking lots that there's no charge for. Trying to misguide every kid that gets off the bus and doesn't quite know where he's at or where to go, trying to take the person for whatever they've got. That's how I hit town. The thing with "One in a Million" is, basically, we're all one in a million, we're all here on this earth. We're one fish in a sea. Let's quit freaking with each other, freaking with me.

    The lyrics have incited a lot of protest, so let's go over them line by line. Let's start with one of the verses, "Police and niggers, that's right/Get outta my way/Don't need to buy none/ Of your gold chains today."

    I used words like police and niggers because you're not allowed to use the word nigger. Why can black people go up to each other and say, "Nigger," but when a white guy does it all of a sudden it's a big put-down. I don't like boundaries of any kind. I don't like being told what I can and what I can't say. I used the word nigger because it's a word to describe somebody that is basically a pain in your life, a problem. The word nigger doesn't necessarily mean black.

    Doesn't John Lennon have a song "Woman Is the Nigger of the World"? There's a rap group, N.W.A., Niggers with Attitude. I mean, they're proud of that word. More power to them. Guns N' Roses ain't bad. . . . N.W.A. is baad! Mr. Bob Goldthwait said the only reason we put these lyrics on the record was because it would cause controversy and we'd sell a million albums. freak him! Why'd he put us in his skit? We don't just do something to get the controversy, the press.

    How about the next verse? Immigrants and faggots/They make no sense to me/ They come to our country/And think they'll do as they please/ Like start some mini-Iran or spread some freakin' disease." Why that reference to immigrants?

    When I use the word immigrants, what I'm talking about is going to a 7-11 or Village pantries - a lot of people from countries like Iran, Pakistan, China, Japan et cetera, get jobs in these convenience stores and gas stations. Then they treat you as if you don't belong here. I've been chased out of a store with Slash by a six-foot-tall Iranian with a butcher knife because he didn't like the way we were dressed. Scared me to death. All I could see in my mind was a picture of my arm on the ground, blood going everywhere.

    When I get scared, I get mad. I grabbed the top of one of these big orange garbage cans and went back at him with this shield, going, "Come on!" I didn't want to back down from this guy. Anyway that's why I wrote about immigrants. Maybe I should have been more specific and said, "Joe Schmoladoo at the 7-11 and faggots make no sense to me." That's ridiculous! I summed it up simply and said, "Immigrants."

    How about the use of the word "faggots"?

    I've had some very bad experiences with homosexuals. When I was first coming to Los Angeles, I was about eighteen or nineteen. On my first hitchhiking ride, this guy told me I could crash at his hotel. I went to sleep and woke up while this guy was trying to rape me. I threw him down on the floor. He came at me again. I went running for the door. He came at me. I pinned him between the door and the wall. I had a straight razor, and I pulled the razor and said, "Don't ever touch me! Don't ever think about touching me! Don't touch yourself and think about me! Nothing!" Then I grabbed my stuff and split with no place to go, no sleep, in the middle of nowhere outside of St. Louis. That's why I have the attitude I have.

    Are you anti-homosexual then?

    I'm proheterosexual. I can't get enough of women, and I don't see the same thing that other men can see in men. I'm not into gay or bisexual experiences. But that's hypocritical of me, because I'd rather see two women together than just about anything else. That happens to be my personal, favorite thing.

    How about gay-bashing? Have you ever beaten up somebody simply because of their sexual preference?

    No! I never have. The most I do is, like, on the way to the Troubadour in "Boystown," on Santa Monica Boulevard, I'll yell out the car window, "Why don't you guys like wuss?" 'Cause I'm confused. I don't understand it. Anti-homosexual? I'm not against them doing what they want to do as long as it's not hurting anybody else and they're not forcing it upon me. I don't need them in my face or, pardon the pun, up my ass about it.

    The "One in a Million" lyrics about "faggots" who "spread some freakin' disease" got G n' R bounced from an AIDS benefit in New York by the Gay Men's Health Crisis, one of the groups that was involved with putting on the show. How did you feel about that?

    We're in no way associated with the Gay Men's Health Crisis, except that David Geffen is on the board of directors for the concert and he's the owner of our record company. We were asked to do this, and we wanted to contribute some money to help stop a deadly disease that's killing humans of all kinds. A friend of mine who's homosexual and was largely responsible for the record companies taking notice of us was upset about it because we didn't even get a chance to clear ourselves, to make good.

    AIDS is something very scary. The concert was something we wanted to do and felt it was important to do but we were denied the opportunity. We were even denied the opportunity to say anything about it. It was just publicly announced that we weren't allowed to do it because the Gay Men's Health Crisis wouldn't let us. I don't feel they have the right to deny the money and attention they would have gotten from us playing. It's pride, it's ignorant and it's childish.

    Women seem to be one of the more popular subjects with Guns and Roses. Are you a romantic kind of guy?

    I'm a person that has a lot of different relationships. It's really hard to maintain a one-on-one relationship if the other person is not going to allow me to be with other people. I have a real open, hedonistic, sexual attitude. Just 'cause you're not totally in love with a person doesn't mean you don't like them. You can think they're attractive, and you want to touch them, have a great time with them. Maybe at that moment you are in love. I think love and lust go hand in hand, like good and evil. One without the other is not complete, But I don't tell someone I'm in love with them if I'm not. I never have.

    You'd describe yourself as promiscuous then?

    I have sex as often as possible.

    Don't you ever think of contracting AIDS?

    Yeah, but I also live in a city that's supposed to get the big quake any day. You can get killed on the freeway in drive-by shooting, the foods irradiated, there's a million ways to go out. A lot of times, sexual situations are very spontaneous, but I try not to be overly careless.

    So you practice safe sex?

    Practicing safe sex . . . . I like the word practice. It means keep doing it, keep repeating the process, get it right. Practice makes perfect. I don't know if it'll get perfect. But you can get a lot better. Just keep practicing.

    What about drugs? Everyone and their mother seems to have a G n' R story involving junkie debauchery . . . .

    I'm not and never have been a junkie. The last interview in RIP Magazine got taken out of context about me talking openly about my drug use. That was over two years ago and was only for a few weeks when there was nothing to do. I was also very safe about it. That doesn't mean that at some point I won't get really sick of life and choose to OD. Then people will go, "He was always a junkie." That's not the case, but you can believe what you want, I don't give a freak.

    No one's really gonna believe anything I say anyway as far as what I do or don't do with drugs, 'cause it's such a taboo subject. Lately I've been drinking champagne for fun, a few beers, you know. Right now drugs get in the way of my dreams and goals. I really don't want drugs around me now, I'm not necessarily against the use of drugs, they just don't fit in my life right now. Then again, I could be out on tour for six months and a blast might be what cheers me up that night.

    Do you ever think these excesses might hurt other members of the group?

    I don't want to see drugs tear up this band. I'm against when it goes too far. Right now, for me, a line of coke is too far. A line of coke puts my voice out of commission for a week. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I did a lot of stuff before. Maybe it's guilt and it's relocated in my throat. All I know is it's not healthy for me right now. And if somebody goes, "Oh, man, he's not a partyer anymore," hey, freak you! Do you want a record or not?

    With all the misconceptions floating around about G n' R, the biggest misconceptions seem to come from magazine interviews you've granted.

    That's just a lot of sensationalism. People out there don't know what's real or not. Things are always going to get changed or taken out of context, but some magazines will make up an interview just to sell issues. One's written that Slash said I run over dogs. I think it sucks when a kid has three bucks and he buys a candy bar, a soda and a magazine because he's really into Guns n' Roses, and he gets bad photos and an interview that's not true. It's not fair. Unfortunately, it probably will never change.

    Some schools have banned G n' R t-shirts, and organizations like the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) have objected to what they feel is the band's glorification of a degenerate lifestyle. When you sing to a younger audience, do you think you have any responsibility as their idol?

    It's just a record. . . . I don't know. You have to go through your own changes sand growth. I'm not trying to influence anybody in a negative way. Also, I'm not raising your kid. You're the parent. The PRMC? Who are they? A TV show, like AM/PM?

    If you had a young son, say Axl Rose II, how would you feel if he brought home an album with lyrics about "niggers" and "faggots"?

    Right now I don't want to have a child, because I can't give it enough time. But I'd want him to talk about what he listened to with me, and have him show me new things, and me show him new things. He could play me the Screaming Banshees From Hell, and I could play him Jimi Hendrix or something. We could talk about the music. We'd talk about things together. I think it's a parents job to raise their child. My father likes "Welcome to the Jungle." Ten years ago, if a song like that was caught in our house, man, it was over. But I can't hold how he once felt against him.

    Let's go back to your childhood. Were you a bad student?

    No. On the placement tests in school, I was always in the top three percent. I dropped out in the eleventh grade, went back as a senior, then dropped out again.

    Why did you drop out?

    'Cause I couldn't make school work for me. I was having to read books, sing songs, draw pictures of things that didn't stimulate or excite me. It just didn't do anything for me. So I dropped out and started drawing and painting at home and spending a lot of my time in the library. Basically I started putting myself through Axl's school of subjects that I wanted to learn about.

    You grew up in Lafayette, Indiana. What influence do you thing your small town had in shaping you?

    It made me despise people with closed minds. It made me want to break out.

    What about small-town values?

    That's a load of crap.

    Were you in trouble a lot?

    Me and my friends were always in trouble. We got in trouble for fun. It finally reached a point where I realized I was gonna end up in jail, 'cause I kept freaking with the system. This guy and I got into a fight. We became friends afterwards, and he dropped charges against me, but the state kept on pressing charges. Those charges didn't work, so they tried other ones. I spent three months in jail and finally got out.

    But once you've ticked off a detective, it's a vengeance rap back there. They tried everything. They busted me illegally in my own back yard for drinking. They tried to get me as a habitual criminal, which can mean a life in prison. My lawyer got the case thrown out of court. I left and came to California. They told me not to leave, but I left anyway. My lawyer took care of it. I didn't go back for a long time. Now when I go back to see my family, I avoid the police there. I try to avoid all police in general.

    What happens when you go back now as a celebrity instead of an outcast?

    It gets a little bit out of hand. I can't really go any where. I just go to my friends' houses, but people I don't know show up wanting autographs. People that I used to go to school with, people that used to hate my guts, want me to invest money in this and that. People say crap like "Axl thinks he's too cool to party with us." But those people never wanted to party with me before, The people who are offended by this comment are the ones who should be.

    How do you explain your volatile nature?

    When I get stressed, I get violent and take it out on myself. I've pulled razor blades on myself but then realized that having a scar is more detrimental than not having a stereo. I'd rather kick my stereo in than go punch somebody in the face. When I get mad or upset or emotional, sometimes I'll walk over and play my piano.

    Your own music has been diluted somewhat by radio stations that play different, shorter versions of G n' R songs. How do you feel when you music is cut to suit the airwaves?

    Not that any of our songs compare, but if you hear a short version of "Layla," I think you're gonna be ticked off, especially if you're planning on hearing the big piano part at the end. I hate the edit of "Sweet Child o' Mine." Radio stations said, "Well, your vocals aren't cut." My favorite part of the song is Slash's slow solo; it's the heaviest part for me. There's no reason for it to be missing except to create more space for commercials, so the radio-station owners can get more advertising dollars. When you get the chopped version of "Paradise City" or half of "Sweet Child" and "Patience" cut, you're getting screwed.

    What kind of music and bands do you enjoy?

    That's always the hardest question. Lately I've been listening to Derek and the Dominos, the Bar-Kays. I really like the first Patti Smith. I'm just starting to discover the Cure. I keep trying to find things to open myself up to. I enjoy Sound Garden. The singer just buries me. The guy sings so great. On the club circuit, I like Saigon Saloon a lot.

    Today, my favorite record is Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything . I just got turned on to it. I've still got my favorites and things like the Pistols, ELO and Queen. The two records I always buy if there's a cassette deck around and I don't have the tapes in my bag are Never Mind the Bullocks and Queen II . I think I'd be in a bind to figure out which one I'd want if I was stranded on a desert island. I might go with the Pistols, because maybe a boat would hear me if I played it.

    You are also a Rolling Stones fan. There were some rumors floating around about G n' R possibly opening for them on their upcoming tour. What happened?

    No formal offer has been made. I'd love to open for the Stones, but at the same time I really want to do my own record. We'll probably go back on the road sometime next year. I don't know exactly when.

    Do you consider yourself the leader of the band?

    That's a good question. I'm gonna do what I want to do. That may be selfish, but it's the best way for the most to come out of me. When we write a song, nobody in this band plays anything they don't really want to. When we write a song, the bass player plays his line and it ends up being what he wants to do on bass. It ends up working that way and fitting, so we end up with a set of songs that everybody likes. I couldn't say I'm the leader, like "We're gone do what I say." It doesn't work that way.

    Earlier you touched on the rock-star image and people falling into the music just because it adheres to a certain attitude and look. What about Axl Rose's longhaired, tattooed, pierced-nipple image?

    What about it?

    Is it just an image?

    It's part of me. When I put on my clothes or do a photo session, I want to look the best I can. If you're going on a date, you want to look good for that person or for yourself. I've got enough money now to buy a suit I like and wear it the way I want. I don't wear suits every damn day now. Maybe I'm gonna shave and wear makeup and do my hair freakin' way up. We're definitely image conscious. I think if Izzy came wearing a clown suit to a photo session, we'd want to know how he could validate his presence in a clown suit. [Laughs]

    But if he could back it up and convince us there was a reason, then it would be cool. Otherwise, it wouldn't be. Steven has his own way of dressing, in the latest commercial-rock fashions. Steven enjoys the hell out of the clothes he wears, whereas Slash and I wouldn't be caught dead in either. It's just different personalities.

    If we're gonna do a show, I wear a headband because my hair gets in my face. When we do a photo session, a lot of the time I'll wear a headband because that's how I am onstage. If I feel real dominant and decadent, I'm gonna be wearing my jack-boots and stuff like that. I try to express myself through my clothes. It's another form of the art. I'm not afraid of what people think about different ways I look. I'm gonna do what I want to do.

    Do you really get hassled much when you go out locally in LA?

    I really only go to clubs where I know the people who work there, so I can have some privacy and hang out. It's hard when you go to a club with 600 people and you end up having to talk to 400 people. You have no time of your own to have fun. Maybe if I haven't gone out for a week, I'll go to the Cathouse, because I know some friends are gonna be there. I just want to be around my friends, even if we don't talk about anything. I just need it. You have all these people asking you for an autograph, and it gets kind of embarrassing.

    I don't want to be a prick to people and go, "Get away from me." But I don't enjoy going someplace and just signing autographs all the time. It comes with the fame, but sometimes it gets out of hand and people can be very rude and obnoxious about it. I've had people break into my hotel room with cameras, waking me up and taking photos. People find out where I live and show up at my building. I've never asked anyone for an autograph.

    Having to deal with autographs doesn't seem like it's the worst thing in the world. At this point in your life, what's your biggest regret?

    That I didn't talk to Todd Crew before he went to New York. [Crew, the bassist in the band Jetboy, was a close friend of the band's who died due to an alcohol-related overdose.] I felt a massive need to talk to him out of concern for his well-being. But I wasn't aware enough to realize I didn't have the time I thought I did. I thought I'd have time later . . . .

    You seem to have an exceptionally strong bond with your friends. Do you think your values have changed any since you've become a rich rock star?

    I saw a guy last night, a homeless guy on the beach. I hate panhandlers 'cause I've never done that. I just couldn't, it would have felt too weird. I walked past the man and realized I had some money in my pocket. It's not that I give everybody I see money. I don't at all. But I handed him twenty bucks and he was like "Thanks, man, I appreciate it." He can have breakfast tomorrow. I could have just walked away, but I could tell in my heart that the guy could really use the money.

    He wasn't trying to scam. He looked like he was gonna get up tomorrow and look for a job or something to survive. I felt good about that, and I'm wondering if he's all right now. I don't know. The next day I was hoping he didn't go buy crack with it.
  16. Prime Time

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    Feb 9, 2014
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    Cumberland, Maryland
    Always enjoyed these VH1 Pop Up videos even if I didn't necessarily like the song or artist.

  17. Boffo97

    Still legal in 17 states!
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    Feb 10, 2014
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    My favorite song on Pop Up Video ever was Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time." Every time they hit the chorus, something hit a Britney doll.
  18. Prime Time

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    Feb 9, 2014
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    Cumberland, Maryland
    Can't find the pop up version but here's another one.....

  19. rocknram29

    Live, Love, Laugh, & Learn
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    Oct 2, 2011
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    On the other side
    • Like Like x 1
  20. CodeMonkey

    Possibly the OH but cannot self-identify
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    Jun 20, 2014
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    #200 CodeMonkey, Sep 23, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2014
    Merle Haggard has the best tribute to Jimmy Rodgers with his album "Same Train Different Time"

    YouTube didn't have a whole album. The playlist was mostly deleted. The first track is in tact, linked below. The album is excellent narrative by Merle about how things were in Jimmy's time. Things like hoboing was a normal form of transportation and etc. He has narrrative segments between the songs telling about Jimmy. If you ever get a chance to get your hands of this on vinyl do so. Merle tells a fantastic story of Jimmy's life and music. Does a hell of an impersonation and yodel too.

    edit. found one more good track. Good but the best stuff is on the talking between tracks though.

    • Like Like x 1