In England it was titled "Living on Borrowed Time". In this country it was called "The Last Days of John Lennon". We're speaking of Fred Seaman's book on John Lennon.
Fred was hired on as personal assistant to John Lennon in 1979, a position he held until that tragic night of December 8, 1980 when John Lennon was assassinated. Fred Seaman came as close as anybody to understanding the relationship between John and Yoko, and really knowing what made John tick during those final days of his life. We talked with Fred Seaman about his book...
Q - You told The Washington Times that just days before John Lennon was shot, you saw him alone in his living room, looking depressed. He'd just heard Springsteen's, "The River" album and started to question his own talent. You said he realized he was, maybe, obsolete. Didn't John tell both Tom Snyder in 1975 and Playboy in 1980, that he didn't want to play the Billboard Charts game, that there was more to life than that?
A - Well, it's a little more complicated than that. When he basically retired from the music scene in 1975, it wasn't so much as though he felt he lost his touch, it was really because he and Yoko had made a decision to stop working so they'd eliminate that area of their lives as a source of potential conflict That was one of the major areas they were always fighting over. Yoko always wanted in on the action and John always wanted to keep her at arms length. In the end of course, she always managed to get involved in his scene. She decided, and he went along, that the best thing to do was not to record anymore for a few years. The way he put it to me was, " Well I've been working non-stop ever since the sixties. This is the first time I don't have a recording contract. I think I'm just gonna take it easy, hang out and raise Sean." Then, of course, in 1980, when he re-entered the music scene, he wanted to enter at the top, and he saw that wasn't going to happen. That was upsetting to him. He did see that in a way, he was obsolete. Not because he'd lost his touch, but because he compromised his talent. See, that's the key issue here. He had compromised, just like he had compromised back in 1963, when he allowed Brian Epstein to put The Beatles in suits, he hated himself for selling out, and for compromising. Deep down, he was a rebel. He wanted to be honest. He wanted to be true to himself. He didn't want to play those games. But he went along because basically, in order to succeed, in this case, you had to do it the manager's way. You had to present a clean-cut image to the public, something that was marketable. Then, in 1980, for him to be able to work at all, he had to do it Yoko's way. And that is to basically give Yoko half of the action and kiss her butt in public and promote the myth. Because he did that, the album (Double Fantasy) turned out to be a much weaker album than it could have been. You know, there's only a handful of real songs on that album - real honest songs; "Losing You", "Beautiful Boy", "Watching the Wheel", "Woman", a very pleasant, bombastic ballad, was more suited to Paul McCartney. "Starting Over" was a total bullshit song as far as John was concerned. He put it together from formula, like in the old days. So, he felt he could never again really put out an album of just his music, the way he wanted to present it. He felt kind of strangled. That was a big problem for him, because he was capable of doing much more. But because he was weak, and he was trapped in that relationship for various reasons, primarily having to do with the fact that he was crippled inside as the song on "Imagine" says. He pretty much knew that the only way he was going to be able to keep working was under Yoko's control and that was a bitter pill for him to swallow. It depressed him.
Q - Many Beatles fans never really understood why John chose Yoko for a wife.
A - It wasn't so much that John chose Yoko, as it was Yoko choosing John. Yoko chose John. She set her sights on him deliberately because he was famous and wealthy. She went after him. It took her years but she got him in the end.
Dakota Days: The True Story of John Lennon's Final Years
That's the title of a new book on John Lennon's written by his personal tarot card reader - John Green. For the first time ever, the reader gains a deeper understanding of what the last five years of John Lennon's life was like.
We talked with author/tarot card reader John Green about his book, and John Lennon.
Q - I've heard it said that Yoko Ono is quite upset with your book. Have you heard anything about that?
A - No, I haven't. You know, I thought about asking her and getting permission to write the official story, but that would mean researching a lot of different elements I didn't know. What I chose to do was write the story that I knew to add to the overall mosaic. If I asked for Yoko's permission, she would've required control, and I know her well enough to know that, and in fact I don't blame her at all. I didn't feel competent enough as a writer to both please or appease her, and then also get this story to the general public. And it was the general public I was trying to talk to.
Q - When you first met John Lennon, you wrote "He gathered light, as if a follow spot was on him." Did you sense any type of 'aura' that surrounded him?
A - Now we're getting metaphysical. In writing the book, I intentionally tried to avoid occult references, unless it was done in humor or explanation. I tried not to use the analysis an occultist uses when they study someone, and that is in fact what I am; I am an occultist. So, when I saw him, what I particularly noticed was a brightness about him as a person, and how each element of the face, the hairs, and the beard even, seemed to be clearly etched. He was not of vague appearance. He was quite startlingly there. To say that it was 'aura,' not so much that, as just the energy field around him.