Location: Tittenhurst, London Road, Sunningdale, Ascot
Interviewer: Kenny Everett
Broadcast: Radio Monte Carlo
KENNY EVERETT: Now, over to Ascot. Well listeners, here we are in John's luxurious 72-acre studio, here built into his home here at Ascot.
JOHN: We are.
KENNY EVERETT: Seeing as this isn't television...
JOHN: Yes, we're in the studio, 5x8.
KENNY EVERETT: Now, why did you buy a studio in your own house, when you've got one in your office as well? In fact, how many have you got?
JOHN: Well, the one in the office hasn't been finished, you see. And that's going to be 16-track, and this is 8-track. And it just means you can chord when you want. And, you can go to bed.
KENNY EVERETT: Or have a cup of tea.
KENNY EVERETT: If ever you feel during this interview like coming out with an original song, recorded just for radio Monte Carlo, please feel free.
JOHN: (singing) The man that broke the bank of Monte Carlo.
KENNY EVERETT: Oh my god. Well tell us about your LP, John. It seems not to be as jolly as your last ones.
JOHN: Jolly as what?
KENNY EVERETT: Well, as the rest of them.
JOHN: Well, such as?
KENNY EVERETT: Revolver, Sgt. Pepper...
JOHN: Ah, well that was a group effort, you see.
KENNY EVERETT: Do you reckon yourself the sad member of the group?
JOHN: Well, I wouldn't say they're all particularly much happier than me. But, they might emphasize the happier side, that's all.
KENNY EVERETT: Are you thinking of doing a jolly album?
JOHN: If I feel jolly, you see. I mean, I was sort of going into the things that I wrote about on the album. So, they weren't particularly jolly, they were more like life, you know. Life isn't jolly, it's a bit of both. The album is a bit of both.
KENNY EVERETT: It seems to be mostly centred around your childhood.
JOHN: Well, yes, it is. That's true. Kenny, very good.
KENNY EVERETT: Oh, he sources his facts this interviewer.
JOHN: Anyway, it's not usual for me to write about childhood, because there were a few old tracks of the Beatles I did about childhood.
KENNY EVERETT: Like?
JOHN: Well, the middle-eight to "She Said She Said": "When I was a boy, everything was right." All that bit. And "Help!": "When I was younger so much younger than today." So it's not surprising. And sad songs I wrote then. You know, "I'm A Loser" and I can't think of half of them, but it's not extraordinary, you know.
KENNY EVERETT: Track by track, let's go through the LP, what's the first track? "Mother".
JOHN: Yeah, well what about it?
KENNY EVERETT: Was that about your mother?
JOHN: Yeah, but it's really about most people's mothers I reckon, you know.
KENNY EVERETT: But they can't be all as bad as that.
JOHN: But I think, you don't need to take it literally. The mother I had, you never had me, meaning, my mother left me or my mother died. The fact that lots of people, say Yoko for instance, had their mother all their life, and had them with them, but they didn't have literally enough love from them. Well, lots of us suffer that because parents have got their own hang-ups.
KENNY EVERETT: It's good to have parents that aren't too much, because then they kick you out of the nest and you've got foridge.
JOHN: Yeah, I know, but maybe it's just that the last generation, you know, they were, somebody would say: "Oh, don't feed them by the breast, it's fashionable not to touch the child," you know, which I don't think is very good for them. Well, things like that you know.
KENNY EVERETT: Didn't have enough of mummy. But you should be the happiest man of the century.
KENNY EVERETT: I mean, you've been through all that hell and damnation of being dragged up by the heels to the heights of stardom. And now, you've sort of, secured yourself in your own little studio, in your own huge house, in 70 acres of delightful scenery. So let's have a jolly LP John!
JOHN: Alright then. (singing) Ha, ha....
KENNY EVERETT: Thank you.
JOHN: Something like that you mean?
KENNY EVERETT: Yeah, that'll do.
JOHN: Yes, well on the next track, we roll right on towards.."Hold On John".
KENNY EVERETT: What was that all about?
JOHN: It was about..(plays guitar). Like that you see.
KENNY EVERETT: Well, there must be something spectacular happening to you at the moment.
JOHN: Well, I am being sued, that's pretty spectacular.
KENNY EVERETT: Oh.
JOHN: But we're not allowed to talk about that. "Hold On John," so that was just about holding on, you see. Even though it's not all that hot let's hold on.
KENNY EVERETT: Which is your favourite track?
JOHN: I don't really know, you see. I like "Working Class Hero," but I like it as a song, or a poem or whatever it is. I like "Isolation" just to listen to.
KENNY EVERETT: Yeah, that's pretty, isn't it?
JOHN: And, I can't quite remember, maybe parts of "God", you know, I never just have one I like.
KENNY EVERETT: "Love" seems to stand out, like it was written ages ago, on that album.
JOHN: It wasn't, it was written at the same time, you see. It's not a miserable song at all, is it?
KENNY EVERETT: No, it's lovely.
KENNY EVERETT: Now, what about this latest record of yours. I mean you can't really mean "Power To The People" like my mom and dad.
KENNY EVERETT: But my dad wouldn't know what to do with it.
JOHN: No, but it's like saying, you know, imagine there wasn't any government, and somebody says, we'll vote a government in, and you're saying, you don't expect my mom and dad to vote, do you?
KENNY EVERETT: But that's the one's they've got in anyway. I mean, they've been at it for hundreds of years, they must have it right by now.
JOHN: You think they've got it right?
KENNY EVERETT: Well, as right as you can get it on earth.
JOHN: Well, that's the only chance you get. If you don't get it right on earth, where are you expecting to get it right?
KENNY EVERETT: Yeah, but you've got to have bad bits to make the good bits stand out.
JOHN: Well that's, sure, you get that with your respective government, you get that just as a person. Everybody has ups and downs. But I just think people should have more say in what goes on, that's all.
KENNY EVERETT: Can you see a better world emerging because it doesn't seem to have gotten better or worse since it started.
JOHN: I can't see it, but there's no harm in striving for it.
KENNY EVERETT: So you're blindly striving for a better world.
JOHN: Well, I wouldn't say blindly striving. Not blindly.
KENNY EVERETT: That was "Not Blindly" by John Lennon. Do you come in here at all times of night, like if you feel an inspiration coming on, do you pop into the studio and do it?
JOHN: No, I prefer to stay in bed! No, the point is, still at the moment I need engineers, so I have to book to get people down. But, at one stage, it should be possible to put engineers to set it, one night, and then we just press a button it does it automatic. Then I could pop down in the night.
KENNY EVERETT: Do you think you better with a lot of 'no people' around.
JOHN: A lot of 'no people'?
KENNY EVERETT: You know, in EMI, wherever you record there's a million people staring.
JOHN: Well, not always, but the less people the better, I prefer.
KENNY EVERETT: So, if you came down here on your own you'd write some orgasmic material.
JOHN: Well, I wouldn't probably write it. I mean, I write just anywhere.
KENNY EVERETT: Give us a startling fact.
JOHN: I'm thirty.
KENNY EVERETT: Are you?
JOHN: That's startling, isn't it?
KENNY EVERETT: I'm only 26. Can you remember when you were 26? What was happening?
JOHN: No, probably on tour.
KENNY EVERETT: You seemed to be enjoying it while it was happening though.
JOHN: Some of it was good, some of it was bad like anything. And then the next track was "I Found Out".
KENNY EVERETT: Do you think you'll ever become a complete, and utter hermit?
JOHN: No, I couldn't do that, you know.
KENNY EVERETT: What would you miss?
KENNY EVERETT: Oh, you still like people?
JOHN: Oh, I like them very much!
KENNY EVERETT: Do you think you're less popular, nowadays?
JOHN: Then when I was a Beatle?
KENNY EVERETT: Yes.
JOHN: I might be.
KENNY EVERETT: Does it matter to you?
JOHN: Well, it's not nice to be disliked.
KENNY EVERETT: But I meant to be not though about.
JOHN: Well, not though about, that would be dreadful wouldn't it?
KENNY EVERETT: I'm asking you.
JOHN: Well, you know, who was the one who picked up the musical papers, ladies and gentlemen. He said it's not worth reading about when I'm not in.
KENNY EVERETT: And you agreed, you rat.
JOHN: I agreed, you rat. So that answers your question. It's fun to be talked about in a way.
KENNY EVERETT: Yeah, is most of what you read about yourself true?
JOHN: If it's a personal interview with me, it'll be, you know, pretty well true. Typing errors can change the meaning of things but it's pretty well true. If it's written about me, it's usually just rubbish.
KENNY EVERETT: Why don't you write a book about yourself?
JOHN: Well, I'm trying to make records and that. I mean, I'm not that old. I'll do it when I'm old.
KENNY EVERETT: How can you see your life developing in front of you?
JOHN: I can't. If you'd asked me two years ago, I couldn't have imagined what was going to happen. So I wouldn't even attempt to guess. "Isolation".
KENNY EVERETT: That would have been a single I think, you know.
JOHN: Well, I think George said that, or he liked it best.
KENNY EVERETT: You seem to have a load of people around that are collecting...Like when we were having a cup of tea, there were two people listening to the radio to see if they were playing your record.
JOHN: Oh, no. That's Val who has the radio on night and day whenever we've got stuff out or not.
KENNY EVERETT: You don't listen to when you're on the radio?
JOHN: Oh, I do. But I have a radio somewhere else. But that music you heard, Val listens to that day and night. Val's the housekeeper.
KENNY EVERETT: It's a pretty big house, isn't it?
JOHN: It's not as big as it seems when you first get here. When you first walk in, you think, Jesus, you know. But, it's like a large version of a small house. Meaning that there's not that many more rooms except for this office section. In the living section, it's just like big rooms, instead of small.
KENNY EVERETT: Who did it belong to before you?
JOHN: I don't know. I think somebody, Cadbury, or other, had it. But a few people have had it.
KENNY EVERETT: You still friendly with the rest of them?
JOHN: Well, yeah. I played billiards with Ringo, and discuss records with George. But, of course, we see more of each other now with the court case, going on, so in a way, that court case brought Ringo, George and I closely together again, because we had to spend hours on different things. So we're pretty damn friendly now.
KENNY EVERETT: Good. 'Cause I'm sure there's a million people out there that would love to see you all jangling together again.
JOHN: Well, it's like 90%, that George, Ringo and I would record together again, maybe not as Beatles, you know, under that title. But, like if I wanted a guitarist to play with me, I would ask him. Same as I asked Ringo to play drums.
KENNY EVERETT: Is there any one of the old artists that you would like to play with?
JOHN: I'm too, sort of, shy in a way to play with people I admire, like B.B. King. I might do it if I was there, but I don't do much going around to other people's sessions.
KENNY EVERETT: What do you think of all the violence that's flaring up all over the place?
JOHN: I mean, London's violent, compared to Dublin, or someplace.
KENNY EVERETT: Not at the moment.
JOHN: Silly things to say.
KENNY EVERETT: I was talking to Harry Nilsson about 2 years ago, and he said he wouldn't be you for 1,000 pounds, or whatever it was.
JOHN: He wouldn't be me for 1,000 pounds?
KENNY EVERETT: No, because of all the pain and agony.
JOHN: I think his agony and pain is just the same as mine. It looks massive, because it's being a public figure and all that crap, it gets talked about. I think Charlie Drake was saying something like that, but the problems I have, it's the same as everybody else.
KENNY EVERETT: But you get a lot more of them, than the average bloke.
JOHN: I don't know whether he has it that easy. I think, because of the type of person I am, I might get meself into trouble, in a way, more than another guy, but not because I'm famous, you know. I might be the oddball of the factory.
KENNY EVERETT: A lot of people probably think you're a mad eccentric.
JOHN: Well, what about it?
KENNY EVERETT: Tell me John, why are you still plugging this album, because it's been out for an awful long time, hasn't it?
JOHN: Because in the early days of it, they wouldn't play it on BBC or anything.
KENNY EVERETT: Why not?
JOHN: I don't know, probably they thought every line and every lyric must of had something in it. So, I didn't get many plays.
KENNY EVERETT: That's because I wasn't there.
JOHN: Right, they've shifted all the oddballs on me. So that's a reason to keep playing it.
KENNY EVERETT: When the shows are segmented into 1 hour slots, most of the DJs usually want to just play the jolly, bouncy, popular stuff.
JOHN: But it was literally not played, as a policy at one time. And that didn't do it any good. That was when it was first out. And people do have to hear something before they...
KENNY EVERETT: What do you think the answer is, radio as it is in the States?
JOHN: Yeah, that would be great.
KENNY EVERETT: Lots of stations.
JOHN: Yeah, bring back the pirates, for god's sake.
KENNY EVERETT: It's too lonely out there.
JOHN: Is it?
KENNY EVERETT: 12 people playing records to each other for 2 weeks on end.
JOHN: Well, it was good for the listeners, anyway.
KENNY EVERETT: Yes. You're surrounded by an entourage, aren't you?
JOHN: It depends what you mean. Actually I have 4 people that work for Yoko and I, we have. Which is one a driver, one a housekeeper, an assistant, a secretary, and another guy that comes from Apple. So I suppose that's an entourage. Have a lot of business going on.
KENNY EVERETT: Yes, you seem to be rushing ahead with things, don't you? It's a hive of industry, this place.
JOHN: Well, I like working, you know. So that's about all there is to do, really, unless you just lie on your head all the time.
KENNY EVERETT: You're very fortunate, really, in a way, that you can now do exactly what you want, can't you?
JOHN: Well, that's what I was working for. Almost.
KENNY EVERETT: But you had the studio in mind from the start?
JOHN: No, the only reason to try and get money or financial security or whatever it is, it's so you can do whatever you want. We're pretty tied up in a way.
KENNY EVERETT: How?
JOHN: Well, with contracts and things.
KENNY EVERETT: What's the next track?
KENNY EVERETT: Oh, yes that's pretty.
JOHN: With the fade-in intro we did so low you can't hear it on the radio. That's this one. So that was pretty happy, wasn't it?
KENNY EVERETT: Yes...no it wasn't, it was sad.
JOHN: It wasn't miserable.
KENNY EVERETT: When Paul does a single, do you rush out and buy it and then think, right, I'll get him.
JOHN: Don't have to buy it, he's on Apple.
KENNY EVERETT: But do you listen to it and think, the rat, I'll get him with my next single.
JOHN: No, I don't. I just listen to it.
KENNY EVERETT: And what do you think of the sort of stuff he's doing lately?
JOHN: He's done better.
KENNY EVERETT: Since what?
JOHN: No, no. He's done better stuff than the stuff he's doing now. It might be because of the situation, or something.
KENNY EVERETT: If you had Sgt. Pepper in one hand, and your LP in the other, which would you listen to first, and more eagerly?
JOHN: Obviously, the one I made.
KENNY EVERETT: But you were chiefly responsible for Sgt. Pepper, weren't you?
JOHN: No, no more than the others.
KENNY EVERETT: So you'd rather have something that you've done by yourself, than...
JOHN: When we were Beatles, we'd always prefer our own tracks unless there was something specific.
KENNY EVERETT: So you never completely wrote together?
JOHN: Well, yes. But each individual Beatle preferred different tracks.
KENNY EVERETT: Haven't you ever heard something he's done that you thought, wow, I must do something like that.
JOHN: I don't know about "I must do something like that," but I've enjoyed stuff that Paul's done. Obviously, we all had respect and enjoyed each other's music.
KENNY EVERETT: Do you think you'll ever have tea with him again?
KENNY EVERETT: So when the fuss has died down, you'll rush at each other.
JOHN: I don't know about that. But, there's no doubt we'll see each other.
KENNY EVERETT: So will the world reverberate to another JOHN/McCartney composition?
JOHN: I doubt it, because we weren't writing all that much together for the last couple of years, anyway.
KENNY EVERETT: Have you ever considered suicide?
JOHN: Oh, yes. As a teenager, even, I think everybody sort of thinks about it. I don't remember standing on the edge of a cliff, I've never been that near. But I've considered it. Most of us have been through that. Most have been through things with mothers and fathers; most of us have been through something with religion, or not with religion, whatever; most of us have been isolated or been in love; most of us remembered things and most of us have wondered what love is, you know.
KENNY EVERETT: What is it?
JOHN: (singing) Love is real, real is love...
KENNY EVERETT: Lovely.
JOHN: There's lots of things, your mind blocks off memories from the childhood. 'Cause when you're a child, you can only take so much pain or whatever it is. So, when something happens you tend to block it off and not feel it. And it almost, literally, blocks off part of your pain.
KENNY EVERETT: But that's the bit it doesn't want to know about.
JOHN: Yeah, but it's like not wanting to know about going to the toilet, or having a bath. If you don't do it for a long time it accumulates and emotions are the same and you accumulate them over the years. And they come out in other forms.
KENNY EVERETT: Like violence, or something.
JOHN: Well, violence or baldness, or short-sightedness, something like that. That's part of his theory. It's pretty revolutionary I think, the idea, but from the experience I had there is seemed pretty valid, there's a good basis for that theory. And so what you do is go back or find a way to going back to these emotions that you've blocked off. And you remember things you didn't remember, and experience that emotion, because it's still there. It's like taking a diarrhea pill, and it all comes out baby!
KENNY EVERETT: Are you afraid of death?
JOHN: No, I'm not afraid of it. I don't want to die. Die nicely would be alright, you know, like quietly is no bother at all.
KENNY EVERETT: In your own studio.
JOHN: Taping it and filming at the same time, something like that.
KENNY EVERETT: Right. What's the next one, there must be one left.
JOHN: "Well Well Well".
KENNY EVERETT: Do you like Yoko's singing?
JOHN: I'm pretty influenced by her singing. If you hear "Cold Turkey," at the end of it, ladies and gentlemen, the RPM6 out now, if you hear "Cold Turkey" towards the end of it, I'm getting towards singing, or letting the voice go as much as Yoko does, but not quite. But on "Well Well Well" I let it go.
KENNY EVERETT: Well, what is it? Are you shouting the way you feel, is that what it is? I don't get it.
JOHN: Almost. It's the same as shouting "Twist And Shout" or "Tutti Fruitti," only just missing the words. Don't say anything. Because "tutti fruitti a-wop-bop-a-lula" never said anything, in literally terms. And Yoko does the same. She just takes a word or an expression or an idea and works around it. It's like a sax playing it. It's like an instrumental. Anyway, I was telling you, Yoko's doing with her voice what instrumentalists have done over the past 50 years with their instruments but she's doing it with her voice. Why, here's Yoko herself who would do some explaining of the problem.
YOKO: I think we're saying a lot of things in our minds that's too heavy to come out as clean sentences, you know. Like I always feel like I'm stuttering my mind, before I say something. But because of our sort of cultured and refined background, we do manage to say something in very smooth sentences, like "how are you Kenny?" But maybe in my mind I'm saying "how-how-how-how-a-a-a-re-you?", you know.
KENNY EVERETT: People listening to your side, will never say, "oh, she's trying to say so-and-so," they'll just hear the sound of it.
YOKO: Well, what you're trying to say in your mind is not that specific, it's more like emotional and it's all abstract.
KENNY EVERETT: But people are clammering to think, what is she saying, what does she mean?
JOHN: But it's the same thing about when they brought in abstract art, and that. And any middle-class director's home they have their abstract art, it's just the same.
YOKO: Cafés, you know. Restaurant.
JOHN: It used to be all that "I don't know what I like, but I don't like that." It's just abstract. Anyway, another point is that instead of when you're drowning, which we all are, half the time, you don't say "will you consider possibly helping me to a degree that would save my life?" You just go "aaaagggghhhh!" So that's what she's doing.
KENNY EVERETT: Basically a sad chap John, I though. Well, we're out of the studio now. Lovely house you've got, beautiful grounds, 72 acres, and they're very happy together. And that's the latest bulletin. Very courteous couple. She was knitting in the control room while we were doing that interview. And he was strumbling away on his guitar. And on that little note folkies, with lots of great stuff coming from out of his studio, I think, in the next couple of months, it's goodbye, from Radio Monte Carlo, and from me and Tommy and from Dave. And we'll all be back very soon when all this problem is sorted out, and Radio Monte Carlo will burst forth again, from some other direction.