Tuesday, April 07, 2009

September 8, 1971 - The Dick Cavett Show

Taped: Wednesday 8 September 1971
Aired: Saturday 11 September 1971

In New York, at the television studios of ABC TV, John and Yoko record their first appearance on The Dick Cavett Show. (The programme will be transmitted on September 12.) The Lennons chain-smoke throughout the 90-minute interview where, at one point, John looks up to the camera and jokes: "Didn't work did it, Arthur?" This was a reference to the fact that their four-month primal scream therapy last year with Janov was supposed to cure their addiction to nicotine. The general light-hearted conversation contains some unique play-offs between John and the host.

John: "Ella Fitzgerald dear Watson ... that's a pun on elementary."

Cavett: "That's known as word play."

John: "Yes, I'm always playing with myself!"

Then on a more serious note ...

Cavett: "Yoko, you've even been called the dragon lady who broke The Beatles apart."

Yoko: "Yes."

John (instantly defending): "Well, if she took us apart, can we please give her the credit for all the nice music that George made, Ringo made, Paul made and I've made since they broke up!"

Yoko: "It turned out all right, didn't it?"

John (continuing): "Anyway, she didn't split The Beatles. How can one girl split The Beatles, or one woman, y'know? The Beatles were drifting apart on their own!"

Cavett: "Can you remember when you realised it was inevitable that you thought that you'd split up?"

John: "No. It's just like saying do you remember falling in love. It just sort of happens."

The "black bag" idea is resurrected when two friends (one of which is May Pang) appear on the set. This prompts John to recall the incident when the black bag conception was used on BBC TV's Parkinson in July.

"We did a talk show in England and every time the man wanted to talk about 'Beatles', because I'm fed up talking about them, I asked him to go in a bag and he did it. The interviewer, the Dick Cavett of England, he was in the bag all the time, so every time the cameras panned to him, the audience broke up, so he could never get the questions out. It was a very good show!"

To compensate for the fact that John and Yoko will not be performing on the show, they bring along with them excerpts from the film Imagine ('Mrs. Lennon' and 'Imagine' itself), Erection and Fly. John concludes the show by announcing that they will be going out on the road next year with a band. One viewer of the show in New York is George Harrison. (The Lennons will return to The Dick Cavett Show on May 5,1972.)

After the final credits for the programme roll, and the audience stop clapping, John and Yoko decide that they would like to carry on talking. Besides resuming a conversation with Cavett, John and Yoko also take questions from the studio audience, on topics including John's songwriting and whether or not drugs effected it. Yoko is also asked her opinions about the overpopulation of the world. This sequence is included in the show transmitted on September 19.

Following the broadcast, critics are quick to attack the show, saying John and Yoko "annoyed most of the watchers by spending 90 minutes plugging everything they had ever done or ever hoped to do. There was very little conversation; instead viewers were treated to excerpts from films and albums the couple have done separately and together." The controversy continues the following day when American radio airs complaints about the show. Listeners voice their opinions, saying that the constant plugging of the Lennons' products made them feel that they were "being taken for a ride".

Incidentally, a clip from the show where John recalls the writing of the song 'Imagine' later appears in the 1994 Tom Hanks film Forrest Gump.

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