Book Review: Rock & Roll Books

Lennon on Lennon: Conversations With John Lennon

Rock & Roll Books

This intriguing compendium of interviews conducted 1964-1980 plucks key Lennon insights from reams of temporal ephemera. The late Beatles/early solo period comprises the majority of the book, so Yoko Ono becomes almost as much a character as the titular subject. Her conceptual acumen matches her husband's wit perfectly as they advance peace through prankster strategies like giving press conferences from inside a large bag. Even when history shows their observations to be wrongheaded, the couple's elongated interviews with Howard Smith and Dick Cavett reveal wide-reaching substance behind the style. A transcript of Lennon playing guest deejay on WNEW during a rainy New York afternoon in 1974 illustrates his easy fealty for his adopted hometown. Hours before he was gunned down outside the Dakota on Dec. 8, 1980, the 40-year-old reformed chauvinist-turned-house dad gave his final interview to RKO Radio's Dave Sholin to promote Double Fantasy, his first album in five years. The most leftward leaning Beatle shrugged off Ronald Reagan's impending presidency as a natural pendulum swing rather than a revolution, instead expressing hope that the Eighties would rekindle the enlightenment of the Sixties. One can only wonder how Lennon's alacritous observations would've evolved had he lived to see 1984, 2001, or 2016.

Lennon On Lennon: Conversations with John Lennon

Edited by Jeff Burger
Chicago Review Press, 480 pp., $28.99
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