New York City

PART TWO NEW YORK CITY

 

It was July, 1971 in New York City. We were having our morning coffee in

a hotel room facing the park. Two things were upsetting John . One was

he had learned that his manager suggested that the other Beatles use the

same bank that he used. A big faux pas on the part of the manager as far

as John was concerned. To John, that meant that he was not special to

the manager. He was just part of the package deal. The other was that

George was doing a Bangladesh Concert at Madison Square Garden, and

because of that, many musicians from India had been put up in the same

hotel as us. John had so many years of being bundled together with the

other Beatles in a hotel, with hangers-on of the famous and near famous,

that he was particularly sensitive to those situations. “It’s getting

mighty crowded," he said, wiggling his nose.

 

Then, still in the middle of our breakfast, we got this idea to write an

Xmas song. We were fast workers, so the song was born by the time we

finished our last morning coffee. That made John feel better.” This is

going to be bigger than White Xmas, you’ll see." He wiggled his nose

again, this time with satisfaction. Then a phone call came and John

picked it up. He was saying "Yeah....yeah.....yeah," I saw

that he was getting very upset. He hung up the phone without saying a

word. “What was that?" "Oh, that was George." A long pause.” He’s

saying. 'Join the Bangladesh concert,' and all that. Dylan is coming.

too. I'm not going." "Why? I think we should go. It's a charity. It's

for a good cause." I said. “We’re not doing it." "Why?" "Because it's

George's little thing. We’ll do our own. you and me." "I think we should

go", I said. "Does it matter that it's George's?" John was getting angrier

and angrier. I was getting angry. too. I thought John was being

big-headed about it. “Okay. if you don't want to go I'll go. I'll go

alone." I said. John flipped out. "You want to be a performing flea, go

ahead! You'd perform with a drop of a hat with any excuse, anywhere...!"

 

Well, it was true that before I got together with John. I was an

avant-garde performer. who believed in performing in situations that

most people would not even consider. It was also true that I was

beginning to miss those days when I used to perform all the time as a

performance artist. But this was something else. altogether. “I think we

should go." "I'm leaving!" John left the room in a huff. I just sat

there. Then after quite a while. I called D's room. D was our assistant.

John called him Dracula behind his back because he looked pale during

the day and bright at night.” Is John there?" I asked. D said "Wait."

and obviously went to another room. “Yes, he is," he said in a

whispering voice.” Well. is he okay?" "Yes, he is. He is fine. He wants

me to take him to the airport. He wants to leave New York. It'1I be fine.

My suggestion is that you shouldn't worry. I'll take care of it."

D sounded like he couldn't hide his excitement about all this.

"Oh. okay then." I couldn't think of what else I could say or do.

 

I got a call from John's manager the next morning. ”Come to my office".

As I opened the door to the office, the manager was sitting behind a huge

desk. He gestured to me to sit on the chair opposite to him. I sat and

waited for what he had to say. The manager seemed like he was searching

for the right words. and then gave up and just said. "John's waiting. He

kept calling me all night. You've got to go to him right away." "Why

should I? He walked out on me." "I know. He told me everything. You've

got to go to him. He's waiting." I started to tell him about how

New York was my town, and it would be good if I could stay around here

for awhile... to think what I'm doing with myself... with my life...

"I need a rest from all this, you know." I said. The manager was

looking at me like he couldn't believe his eyes, like what is this woman

talking about! JOHN LENNON is waiting for her. "John is not sleeping

well. He didn't stop talking to me all night. You gotta go to him right

away." He looked at his watch. "I gotta go now. Patti Harrison is in

town. I have to take her to George. He's on the boat. There's a party."

It seemed like there was a Bangladesh bash. Patti was a strikingly

beautiful blonde woman, and I always wondered why when New York

businessmen talked about Patti, their voices went a notch higher. “You

gotta go. John's waiting." The manager stood up and left me there.

 

I went back to my hotel room. I thought of calling my friends in New

York from the old days. But when I tried to think who, I went blank.

I couldn't think of anybody I wanted to talk to at that very moment.

I started to miss John. I called D and asked him to escort me to the

airport. I expected John to be at the London airport waiting for me.

He was not there. Only Les Anthony, our driver was standing there with

a grim face. Maybe John is standing at the entrance of Tittenhurst

(our home in Ascot), I thought. John was not. I went inside the house

and asked the maid where John was. "He's upstairs." "Oh." I was really

upset by then. I went to our bedroom and opened the door in a huff.

There on the floor John was kneeling inside the black bag. "I'm sorry"

he said.

 

We compared notes. At the hotel, John thought I would run after him as

soon as he had left our room. He waited for me at the elevator for

awhile, but I didn't come after him. So he went to D's room since he

couldn't think of anywhere else to go. "I called D's room, you know,"

I said. "I thought you might want to talk to me." "He didn't tell me

that!" John said, "I thought of ways to go back to our room, like open

the door and say, 'Oh, did I forget something?' but I thought, 'Sod it',

because you were so angry." "Oh, alright so I was angry." "Damn right

you were." We laughed. I told John that I nearly turned around and went

back to New York when I realized that he wasn't waiting for me at the

airport. "Good thing you didn't. It was getting hot inside the bag,"

he said. It was nice to relax in each other's arms, listening to our

heartbeat. But then I suddenly felt very sad. "We're probably going to

lose each other... you know... if we ever separate... because nobody

wants us to be together... and you're so emotional and I'm so proud."

"Well, we'll be careful, won't we!" John said in his sleepy voice.

 

John and I totally forgot about the Xmas song we wrote in the hotel room

because of what happened that morning. in November, John remembered the

song and called the manager to release it as a single for Xmas.

 

"John, it's too late... printing the cover... advertising." "Well, try."

The single was out, but the manager was right: it was too late for

anything and it bombed. Happy Xmas only became big after John's passing

in 1980.

 

There is a twist to the story of "that morning." I heard much, much

later, that George Harrison told John to come alone to the Bangladesh

show, without me, that is. Was that the real reason John did not want

to do the show? I guess I will never know.

 

Yoko Ono Lennon

NYC 1998

 

Illustration "Power To The People" by John Lennon, colored by Yoko Ono Lennon.

 

from John Lennon Anthology CD box set booklet.

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Taken on March 17, 2009