John Lennon Book 9/23/20

Out now is John Lennon 1980: The Final Days In The Life Of Beatle John. The book, which is the latest from noted Beatles biographer Ken Womack, serves as the followup to last year’s excellent Solid State: The Story Of Abbey Road And The End Of The Beatles.

According to the book’s announcement, “For Lennon, 1980 had begun as a ceaseless shopping spree in which he and wife Yoko Ono fell into the doldrums of purchasing blue-chip real estate and indulging their every whim. But for John, that pivotal year would climax in several moments of creative triumph as he rediscovered his artistic self in dramatic fashion, only to be cut down by an assassin’s bullets on Monday, December 8th, 1980, in the prime of a new life that was only just beginning to blossom.”

One of the most exciting aspects of Ken Womack’s work is that he’s able to transport you back into the equally parts austere and funky Upper West Side that John Lennon lived in during his final years — a community that is drastically different today that when the late-Beatle roamed those streets: [“You can’t understand the larger story of the music and the person, if you can’t — and, it’s a very revealing experience for me to try to understand what it felt like to walk around that place, because it is simply incomparable to now. That was my most important understanding.”] SOUNDCUE (:17 OC: . . . most important understanding)

A major take away in the book is how New York City was the perfect place for John Lennon to finally settle, whether it was by being around the right type of artists and intellects — or simply hardened New Yorkers too busy living their lives to succumb to bouts of “Beatlemania” in front of a guy who’s merely shopping with his kid: [“He wanted to be living in the world. And he loved people, I think we can see that, and he loved to chew on ideas. Y’know, thank goodness we have those last interviews, where he just chews an idea, chews on it and enjoys that, and picking it from different sides. And owning his own garbage, right? He was wonderful at that. And, y’know, there were people who were, y’know, privileged to have those kind of conversations with him in a kind of, one-on-one situation. But, I think he lived with that tension of having a very unique kind of fame. Y’know, and today, fame is a lot more amorphous than it was then. I mean, their level of fame, of course, was off the charts compared to so many other people.”] SOUNDCUE (:40 OC: . . . many other people)

TL: DR

  • Out now is John Lennon 1980: The Final Days In The Life Of Beatle John.
  • The book, which is the latest from noted Beatles biographer Ken Womack, serves as the followup to last year’s excellent Solid State: The Story Of Abbey Road And The End Of The Beatles.

FAST FACTS

  • Before deciding to take a five-year sabbatical from recording, John Lennon was composing material for a 1976 album tentatively titled Between The Lines.
  • In the months prior to his death, Lennon rang up his aunt Mimi Smith, urging her to send over family pictures and heirlooms he hadn’t seen in years. He also asked her for his Quarry Bank high school tie, which he took to wearing in the last part of 1980.
  • In the years prior to his death in New York, Lennon usually woke up around dawn each day, and by mid-morning would walk over to the upscale neighborhood coffee house Cafe LaFortuna and read The New York TimesThe London Times and several other international newspapers to get a world view of daily current events.
  • Lennon was also known to go out for drinks at his local watering hole, Malachy’s Donegal Inn, only a block away from the Dakota.
  • At the time of his death, Lennon and Yoko Ono were planning a world tour to tentatively start in the spring of 1981 with a free show in Central Park, and eventually culminating with a concert in the Beatles‘ hometown of Liverpool.