Tuesday, September 16, 2008

John Lennon's Audio Diary Makes Waves Again

John Lennon and Yoko Ono at the piano, 1980Every few years it seems the diary John Lennon recorded on September 5, 1979 makes a comeback in the news cycle, with all parties concerned seemingly forgetting that they have covered it before. This time it is in relation to Philip Norman's book John Lennon: The Life. Despite his other dubious claim about Paul McCartney, the writing on Lennon's mother holds some weight, as Lennon himself talks about it in the audio diary.

Some are writing that this recording stems from the Lost Lennon Tapes, but this is not quite true. It never aired on the Lost Lennon Tapes, but it did end up as a bonus track on one the Lost Lennon Tapes CDs, which were based on the radio show and the bootleg LPs of the same name. When the recording was received by the research team on The U.S. vs. John Lennon, they stopped what they were doing and gathered around to listen to it. In the end, they decided against using it in the film due to the poor audio quality.

One final point of clarification. At least one author has taken the final segment of the tape (which was probably recorded on a separate day), where John somewhat lightheartedly talks about deciding whether or not to jump out of a hotel room window, as a sign of depression. Here John is actually making a lyrical reference that demonstrates the lack of knowledge concerning the works of his "other half of the sky" - namely, Yoko's songs. The reference to jumping out hotel windows is almost taken verbatim from Yoko's song "Looking Over From My Hotel Window" (from the 1973 Approximately Infinite Universe LP, where she sang:

"Age 39, looking over from my hotel window,
Wondering if one should jump off or go to sleep."

This song would have been brought to John's mind as he was close to turning 39 at the time. There you have it. I look forward to reprinting this in three years when the next sensationalist claims surface.

Read a transcription of John Lennon's audio diary


Anonymous said...

What if I had a copy of this tape? Would it be worth anything? I've been holding it for 11 years waiting to know what to do with it. What information can you give me? It does end with the comment about jumping out the window or going to bed.


tnk said...

If it's not the original tape, then I would say that it would only be valuable to those who don't collect bootlegs, as it has been released on a few compilations at this point (Lost Lennon Tapes, Between the Lines, and a few others).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. How would you find out if it was an original? It has John Lennon written on the label. I was given the tape in 1997 by my cousin who was a personal friend of Nat Weiss. I was told that the tape was found in Nat's apartment and he asked me not to do anything with it until Nat had passed. Then I read the article about Philip Norman's new book. If it is just a keep sake of my trip to Manhattan that is fine. I had a great time meeting Nat, Mick Rock and my cousin's band. It's a great memory. Thanks.

tnk said...

Given the source it may be worth something. Similar reel-to-reel tapes (even copies of original recordings) have sold at auction.