REMEMBERS, VERSO, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
On first glance at the cover of Lennon Remembers, a book of the
Rolling Stone interviews with John Lennon by Jann S Wenner, I
processed the information as a biography of Lenin the Communist leader.
I often make these processing errorsmistaking the less common
for the more. I suppose the error really depends on what circles you
do or do not travel in. On second look I thought fleetingly, why would
Rolling Stone have anything to do with a book about V I Lenin?
And then the game was up and my folly over. Lennon the cover clearly
read, though the bespectacled portrait of the walrus dully starring
out above the name does look like a back woods American Communist just
off Brook Farm.
I cannot remember first hearing the Beatles. My entire life they have
held status as a permanent musical monument. However, in my mind the
Beatles have always been inexplicably connected to grainy television
footage from The Ed Sullivan Show and to my mother. In fact,
I connect them more not with my mother exactly but with a story she
tells about first hearing them. The first time my mother heard the Beatles
she was in a room at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel being fitted for a Seventeen
magazine photo shoot. The magazine had come to her high school looking
for a local to be highlighted in theyre Hawaiian spread. So there
is my mother and two relatively famous teenage models in stiff but brightly
hued clothes in the process of being pulled stiffer. A small radio in
the room is playing low, one radio hit becomes another as the girl closest
leaps to turn up the volume. Its the Beatles, theyre playing
them here too! she squeals to no one in particular and I Wanna
Hold Your Hand fills all the space around them. I am in silent bafflement
as what their sound must have made that young model or my mother for
that matter feel, the world that was opened up.
Flipping through that issue of Seventeen now every outfit seems
to support a body, suspend it in some unnatural but staid pose. Reading
Lennon Remembers is not fodder for the teenage mania or the myth
of the Beatles, but rather a deconstruction of it, and a personal one.
Lennons memories of the Beatles are needless to say not ours.
They are tales from the bowels of the Capitalist machine of Pop music,
and they are haunting. Hearing the Beatles now with John Lennons
commentary running fresh through my mind, it is a struggle to remain
an innocent spectator, to enjoy a song or show when aware of the starchy
facade with the engine and fray just behind.
Brooklyn, New York