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John Lennon Anthology



In person, John was a much more attractive man than the one you saw in

photos and films. He had very fair, delicate skin and soft, sandy hair

with a touch of red in it when the light hit a certain way. I would kid

him and say, "You're a red head!" He would say "Never", but the way he

laughed, I knew that that idea had been suggested before. When he grew

his beard, it was very definitely predominantly red. He had three small

but distinct moles straight down the center of his broad forehead,

ending where the third eye was. Buddha was supposed to have had one mole

in the center of his forehead, and that was considered in the Oriental

Physiognomy as a sign of a very wise man. I always thought John's oval

and well-chiselled classic face looked very much like a Kabuki mask or a

face you'd expect to see in a Shakespearean play. And he carried his

body with a certain lightness that gave grace to his movements. He was

in his twenties when I met him. I was eight years older. But I never

thought of him as somebody younger than me. When you were near him, the

strong mental vibe he sent out was too heavy for a young person. Some

people are born old. That was John. His slumming, clowning and acting

the entertainer was just a kind of play acting he enjoyed. But it was

obvious to anybody around him that he was actually a very heavy dude:

not a prince, but a king.


London, then, was a gathering place of the new aristocrats in music art

and films. They exuded new energy with a certain elegance of self-made

people who would change the class structure in England, and would go on

to change the world in a big way. John and I got together in that

atmosphere. So we were very surprised that the so-called hip society of

the times, to which we both belonged, turned against us as soon as we

announced our unity. It seemed as though they had a separate standard

for John, or shall we say that their hipness ended at the point where

John, their ring-leader, chose an oriental woman as his partner. This

was in the 60's in "Swinging London"! It made us feel as though,

suddenly, the wind of the Middle Ages was blowing around us.


They say that Venus is jealous of lovers. Forget Venus. In our case it

was the whole world. But as far as we were concerned, we felt so lucky

that we had found each other. Aside of the fact that we were both

rebellious and emotional, we were true opposites. John was tallish. I

was smallish. John made music for the people. I made music for the

avant-garde, though I did not think of my music in those terms at the

time (I thought I was big time). John was humble, in a way only a very

successful person could be. l was proud, like most people living in an

Ivory Tower, who never had to test the big water. Coming from a

semi-working class background, John was street-wise. I was totally

inexperienced when it came to the games of the real world. And we felt

so, so lucky that we fell in love with each other. It was a blessing

neither of us expected at that time in our lives. We couldn't take our

eyes off one another. We couldn't get enough of each other, But the

outside pressure was very strong. It was so strong, that sometimes we

had to separate from each other in order to protect our love. We thought

we were clever, that we did everything right, and nothing and nobody

could tear us apart. Never, never, never. But it happened: our

separation. So sudden, too. He was taken away from me for good.


Even now, I think there are people who still cannot reconcile themselves

to the idea that I had been in John's life. To those people, led like to

say, I'm sorry that we had hurt you, But that's what happened. That's

how it was. When we made Double Fantasy, our last album together, we

used a photo of us kissing for the cover. There was a phone call from

our record company. They wanted the album cover to be John alone,

looking like he was a bachelor and available. When I reported that to

John, he was livid.” They don't want their white boy to be kissing an

oriental woman... Okay. from now on we won't release any photo unless

we're both in it! No. From now on we won't release any photo unless it's

a photo of us looking at each other!" I started laughing. John smiled,

too. But he said, "Tell them I'm serious." That game was over when John

passed away. The whole world was calling our office to get John's picture

without me in it. I remembered what John had said, but of course, it was

a different time. I kept releasing John's photos and his work for the

next 18 years, getting a new name "professional widow" for it. I

continue to distribute John's work for many reasons: first for John, who

was a communicator/artist/musician. who would have liked for his work to

go on; second, for the fans who want more, more and more; and third, for

the family, including myself, who are proud of father John's work and

would like to see his work out there for a long time to come.


Frankly, I was very reluctant to do this project: The Lennon Anthology.

By now I was used to listening to John's music for various projects.” We

want your okay to cover this song", "We want to use this part of a song

for a commercial", etc. But these tracks are different from those songs.

These are never before released home tapes and studio outtakes, showing

John at his most relaxed and natural. I knew it would be hard for me to

just go through them, to listen to the huge volume of tapes. EMI kept

suggesting that I do this project. They were very patient and very

sensitive to my feelings. However, it was "for the millions of fans

around the world. It would make them so happy". I knew that was true.

But what about what I would have to go through in the process?! But I

said yes. Sure enough, it was very hard for me. As I listened to John's

voice on the tapes, l felt as though I was going through a time warp, and

that John was actually in the same room with me, sipping coffee as we

used to in the long sessions at home or in the studio. Are we in Ascot?

I felt the birds singing. The Oak trees were making a shuffling noise

with their leaves in the garden. Are we in Bank Street? Isn't it time to

get up in the morning? I had to pinch myself and remember that it was a

different time. Whatever that was - that period in our lives - was over

- gone.


I couldn't stop the tears running down my cheek. It was so hard. It was

so sad. I took the first rough stringing to Sean.” Sean, there's

something you might enjoy hearing..." He cried, too. Then I realized

that he was coming from a slightly different place from me.” Mom, he was

so good..." Sean's take was about his dad's musicianship.” Thank you,

Sean. You're making your mom feel better.” Then I cried again, because

it was so beautiful. John would have liked that his now grown son, a

musician himself, liked what dad did.


I hope you enjoy this box. This is the John that I knew, not the John

that you knew through the press, the records and the films. I am saying

to you, here's my John. I wish to share my knowledge of him with you. He

was brilliant, he was happy, he was angry, he was sad. Above all, he was

a genius who worked hard to give his best to the world. I loved him. It

was nice to know that such a person was part of our generation. our

century, and the human race. It was an incredible honour for me to have

been with him.


Yoko Ono Lennon

NYC 1998


Illustration "He Tried To Face Reality" 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