John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky (2018) Movie Script

Seven-eight on end.
Oh, and last night,
we had trouble with this one.
'How can I go forward'
'When I don't know
which way I'm facing?'
And then the next one goes...
I don't know which way to turn'
And it's a bit longer.
- And then it goes: "Oh, no..."
- Do that again.
- What? The "how"?
- The "How can /..." first.
How... How can I go forward'
'When I don't know
which way I'm facing?'
How can I go forward'
'When I don't know
which way to turn?'
I was aware that John
was making some records.
I had no idea what he was doing,
whether it was a single,
whether it was an album.
We knew he was in his own
studio doing some recordings.
He'd finished his new album
and he wanted to play it to me
in his bedroom and he
couldn't work out...
He had this big hi-fi thing
and he couldn't make it work.
It was sort of like... You know?
So he gets out this little
record player that everyone had,
a little Dansette record player,
put it on and put one side on.
I was there ostensibly
to listen to the album,
and I noticed that he
kept putting it off.
Did you hear what it says about
Self ridges in an American paper?
"John Lennon and his
wife, Yoko Ono,"
were chased through Self ridges,
London's largest
department store,
"by a gang of screaming fans."
He said, "Let's go for a
walk around the grounds."
We'd go for a walk
around the grounds.
He said,
"Let's have some iced tea."
By this stage,
it's about seven o'clock
and I'm thinking,
"I want to hear the album."
And he put on the vinyl.
It was a white-label vinyl,
but no track listings
or anything on it.
And he said, "Look,
I can't bear to listen to it any more."
I've recorded it. I've mixed it.
I've heard it up and down.
I don't know whether
it's any good or not,
so I'd like you to have a listen
"and come back outside and
tell me what you think."
So no pressure, you know?
'No short-haired'
"Yellow-bellied son
of Tricky Dicky's'"
"Gonna mother hubbard
soft-soap me'"
'With just a pocketful of hope!'
I'm thinking...
Money for dope!'
this is just a rant, you know.
He said, "What do you think?" I
said, "Yeah, very nice, yeah.
Yeah. What's on the other side?"
And he said, "Turn it over,"
and he played 'Imagine'.
Shall I go?
The first time I heard
the album in the studio,
the first song I
heard was 'Imagine'.
And I just listened to it,
and this was before the
strings were put on it.
And I put the needle on
and out comes 'Imagine'.
But, of course,
it didn't have...
There was no song title.
I didn't know what
this was about.
And I thought, "Hm,
not bad, not bad."
Within about 30 seconds,
I thought, "This is it."
I said, "Surely that
should be the A-side."
And he very coolly said,
"Yoko, Ray thinks 'Imagine'
should be the A-side."
She said, "Oh,
I like that one, too."
And he's like, "Well, what do you think?
Is it any good?"
I'll never forget, he
said, "Is it any good?"
I said to John,
"It's a number one record, John."
He said, "Are you sure?
Are you really sure?"
I said,
"I really like that song,
'Imagine All The People',
whatever it's called."
Cos it didn't have a title.
He said,
"Yeah, I think that's gonna be...
It's called 'Imagine'.
I think it's gonna be
the title of the album."
I said, "I think people are
gonna be still listening to it"
in ten years' time."
He said, "Oh, fuck off,
it's just a rock album."
So, which way should we go?
You're just gonna follow us
now, then?
Yeah, we'll follow you.
I'm going over to look at
the, er...
The swans.
The swans and whatever they
are, geese.
Oh, they've come
back, have they?
- They're coming now.
- I'm going round once!
- Dad?
- I'm trying to get round here.
- Dad?
- Yes?
- Can I get off?
- Yeah, do you want to...?
Do you want to get
off on the island?
They wanted to be
away from London,
away from the office and
all the people there.
If you wanted to talk to
him, you had to come out.
When they came down
from the Apple offices,
they shut themselves
off from that.
And I remember them sending a
memo, saying,
"We are now operating from"
Tittenhurst Park as
Bag Productions.
They didn't want
any direct contact
with the Apple offices any more.
When you went to Tittenhurst,
it was this white place.
This huge, huge garden.
I mean, acres of wonderful
trees and things.
And they had donkeys.
They had a lake put in, with...
All the fish died,
but it was a good idea.
It was this huge place.
I remember it fondly, because...
Dad and Yoko would
do their own thing
and I would sort of run around.
I think it was 99
acres, Tittenhurst.
I mean, that's an insane
amount of land for...
You know, a child can
get lost in those woods!
The first time we met
with the gardener, Frank,
he was a proper old English
gentleman with, you know,
a tweed coat and little
hat, you know,
and he's standing there
in his wellingtons
to meet them for the first time,
and Yoko said,
"We want only black or white flowers."
And he said, "Pardon?" "Only
black or white flowers."
He said, "Well, I can certainly do
white, but I'm not sure..."
"I'm sure there's some tulips
that are black," Yoko said.
Black and white flowers!
We ended up with
different colours.
John and Yoko
spent a lot of time
in their suite upstairs,
which was huge.
It was an enormous bedroom
with dressing rooms off it,
and they had this balcony outside
and they spent most of
their time up there.
They would be reading
letters and things like that.
They always had plenty of
books and things around.
They'd be listening to music.
I think they had all
the music papers,
so they would go through those.
They liked to kind of
know what was going on.
He liked to sit in bed,
playing his guitar, smoking dope
and watching television.
First of all, he didn't like
getting up and going anywhere
unless he really had a reason to do
it, you know,
because, remember, the world is
coming in all the time at you,
you know, if you're John.
You have to imagine,
this is a man who...
He never sees another human face
that's not going, like,
"What can I do for you?"
That means that nobody's ever
going to tell you the truth.
You'll never get any,
or very rarely, get useful feedback
that's, the real thing.
And he needed a
refuge from that.
Those are the moments that
we, you know,
enjoyed each others company
without thinking
about it foo much.
I think if either of us thought
about things too much, it was,
you know, the anxiety or other
elements would come into play.
- OK!
- Next tune.
What shall we do?
They were heavily into
recording 'Imagine'
at that time.
That's why I had a
lot of time on my own.
Because as a kid, also,
I think the studio scenario
was exciting for a minute,
but then, you know,
"You're playing that
song how many times?"
Let me sit there. Where's my...
John wanted his own studio.
If I'd looked back
at the period,
it was probably that John wanted
to get out of town,
he wanted the release,
somewhere that he could
work peacefully and relax.
After some discussion,
John decided that the annexe
would be the best place
for the studio because it
was close to the kitchen,
for all the usual teas
and snacks and stuff,
and sufficiently
away from the house
that it didn't impact
on the domestic scene.
He was very impatient,
cos it takes time to
build these things.
All those connections
have to be soldered.
You have to test things,
"Maybe we should change the carpet?"
You know,
you go through this process of...
It's like tuning an instrument,
making a good studio.
John was then anxious
to start recording,
so I did use John's enthusiasm
to get into the studio,
and say, "Well,
if you'd like to go in the studio"
and play the piano or practise,
I'd love to have
some sound coming in
"to see if it all works."
So we actually used John
as part of the work
to set the studio up.
John was the guinea
pig, that's right.
Good evening ladies
and gentlemen.
This evening we have
the Plastic Ono Band,
who's gonna play for you
a little rock and roll.
Where's Phillip?
We don't know.
Let's see how George does.
So I'm staying with Eric
and, um...
I get up before Eric because he
slept a lot later than I did.
One morning, the phone rang
for along time and, finally,
I just picked it up
and it was Spector.
He said he wanted
me to wake up Eric
and I said, "Listen,
I can't wake up Eric."
"I don't want to go into his
bedroom and wake him up."
He said, "OK, well",
we wanted him to
come out and play,"
and he said, "How about you?"
You want to come
and play with John?"
And I said, "Yeah, absolutely!"
I got a job as a
freelancer at Sounds,
which was one of
the music papers.
And they said, "You've got to go
to John Lennon's house tomorrow"
to photograph him
recording a new album."
And I thought it
was a joke at first.
I goin,
and he hadn't got up yet.
This was about five
o'clock in the afternoon.
So I hung around for half an
hour, and then they suddenly
seemed to appear out of nowhere.
The two of them just
were 'phttt' in the room,
looking like they'd
just got out of bed.
"Woke up, got out of bed,
dragged a comb across my head."
No, he hadn't even dragged
a comb across his head.
He looked really
scruffy, actually.
They actually have eggs on
toast, you see.
He likes tinned tomatoes,
'cause they don't like real ones.
I Didn't know how
long I had them for,
ten minutes or, as it turned
out, six or seven hours.
So I said,
"Can I start taking pictures?"
And he said, "Of course,
go for it," you know?
So, there was a bunch
of people there.
There were people arriving.
There was Klaus Voormann,
the bass player.
There was Nicky Hopkins.
There were some other people who
I didn't recognise at the time.
Then George Harrison showed
up, and I was, "Oh, my God."
We all went every day
for, you know,
for the whole period
of making 'Imagine...
It was a daily trip in
the car in the morning.
We'd get there,
have a bit of breakfast and coffee
and then get into it.
I was living at Friar Park.
I'd got my little cottage
there and it was great.
George had those great cars and
it was nice to drive together.
And I had this little Mini,
which was all painted
in tantra art,
George gave it to me.
But when we drove together,
he had, well, I don't know,
some Mercedes or something.
So I said, "It's great," and it was
fun, and he loved driving.
Phil Spector arrived.
He was dressed in a three-piece
suit and a collar and tie
in the middle of summer in
England in a rock session,
and shades.
And he was a very
heavy presence.
And he just looked menacing.
At a certain point,
Phil stood up and sort of
whispered something like,
"I think we should get started
now," and John shot up,
and said, "Right, everybody,
Phil wants us in the studio."
And he was taking mugs out
of people's hands, you know.
Shall we listen to the tape
or shall we just get on?
- Let's go and do them.
- Let's go and do them, OK.
Let's go. George, are you coming?
Come on, gang.
Come on now, let's go.
How? It's A minor.
It's the same chord,
A minor seventh, is it?
It stays on F a bit
long, I think.
That's all it is.
Is that a major chord?
Yeah, D7, that is.
Yeah. Let's try and open
the window up a bit.
John comes in the studio,
plays a song and he thinks
everybody knows it already.
That's typical for John,
that he's very impatient.
No, D7, maybe.
He thinks for himself.
But you see,
we played in the studio a few times,
then suddenly everybody finds his
way, you know?
At first,
I couldn't quite hear the lyrics,
because they were going through
the mic into the control room,
and the first line was,
"So Sgt.
Pepper took you by surprise."
And I thought, "Oh,
it's a song about the fans,"
because 'Sgt.
Pepper' took me by surprise.
And then there was the line,
"The only good thing
you did was yesterday".
"And since you've been gone,"
it's been just another day.
And I thought,
"Hang on a minute.
They're two Paul
McCartney song titles."
'Those freaks was right'
'When they said you was dead'
It became clear that
there was a spat
between John and Paul
which I, as a member of the
public, was not aware of.
I Used my resentment
against Paul,
that I have as a kind of
sibling rivalry resentment,
to create a song.
And I was answering
a few little messages
that Paul sent to me on
'Ram', you see?
Only I publish my
lyrics, you see?
He doesn't,
so you have to listen dead hard.
- Artistically and musically...
- It's a good song.
If you listen to it,
it's a beautiful song.
"You live with
straights who fold you'"
Paul personally doesn't feel
as though I insulted
him or anything,
cos I had dinner
with him last week.
So it's not about
Paul, it's about me.
Jump when your momma
tell you anything'
Oh. What? What?
The nice thing about
the recording sessions
in those days was that you
play all at the same time.
Hit it!
And that's so important.
It's so much fun.
And for John, it was fun, too.
Even though he was focused on
a song and we tuned into it,
still, it was a
fun, fun situation.
He had the whole of
'Imagine' in his head.
He had the whole thing.
George, on your break,
will you, just for the first
bit, play the tune?
- Yeah. How does that go?
- Well, just like...
Even the one note will do.
That whole album,
he had all the songs.
They weren't written down.
Or there may have been
parts written down.
But he just started.
He would sing the song,
and you would hear him.
Maybe if you look in his eyes,
or whatever,
and we see what he sings.
So you got a feeling of the
song just by him playing it
and you heard the words.
Of course you heard the
words, you know.
I mean,
he's not just saying anything.
Then we got the
lyrics, so we could
be even more aware
of what he's saying.
He would give me,
and everybody involved, the lyrics
and make you study the lyrics
before each and every song.
And then we'd take
it from there.
Well, try that one then.
Yeah, OK.
The metal, it's more, um...
It's more a jangly sound.
See, these are very...
Yeah, right, right.
- So try them both, then. OK.
- It's Elizabethan.
Two, three, four.
If somebody comes
up with a great lick
or a great idea of a riff or a
rhythm, then he would go for it.
That has a...
Elizabethan feeling, you know?
- Has what?
- Has a Elizabethan feeling.
You know, that one?
- So which one is better?
- That's better.
You know,
he'd adapt to all situations.
He was very good at
impromptu decisions
in his head that just worked.
I think we shouldn't ring off,
ring off when George does his...
- And stop the bass?
- Yeah.
So we'll ring off then.
We'll go...
- Ring off? Stop...
- Ring off!
Ring off.
My first impression of Yoko
was, um...
Well, the first impression
was she was very quiet.
I got her in one
of my photographs,
where John is
singing into the mic
with his white Epiphone
and she's actually
sitting on the floor
writing out the lyrics.
I really got,
"This is a real team effort."
I saw Yoko,
and I saw how the two worked together
and how it happened.
How excited Yoko can be and
how they got on so well.
- You see, in Japanese there's...
- " I want you fo..."
- That's it.
- That's too long, you see.
I only want one line.
I know, but, you
see, in Japanese...
"I know that you've
heard it before"
is wrong in Japanese,
because in Japan they haven't...
Yes, they have.
Everybody in the world says that.
The thing is,
you can't say it in one line.
So why can't you say...
- It's a very strong message.
- Well, I'll try it.
There was something
absolutely lovely about her,
which I'm not sure I
can put my finger on,
but she was completely different
to the propaganda we'd
all been led to believe
that she was this devil
woman, a foreigner to boot,
who broke up The Beatles.
Miss Yoko Ono.
What I'm trying to
do is to present
an unfinished situation,
where people can finish it
themselves in their own minds.
She'd come along from nowhere.
Just from nowhere.
We had no idea
about the background
of anything in New York,
so she was really an
interesting person.
What was the first time, Yoko,
that you made something
like one of these?
What was the very first time
you really invented something?
When I was about four years old,
when I was in Japan,
and one day, I had a great
idea, you know,
that probably the, uh...
if we cut all the seeds
in the world in half...
All the seas?
Seeds, you know, different kinds of
seeds, and glue it together,
different seeds, and plant them,
then the whole world would...
- Oh, "seeds"?
- Seeds, you know.
And then it would be,
sort of like, a whole world,
a completely different
world, all mixed of...
you know, pine trees with
apples, hanging around,
things like that and I
thought it would be beautiful.
The art world was extremely
straight, really, in those days.
It was more of a sort
of slick operation.
You know, proper art galleries.
ours was completely handmade.
Ours was the only place
that Yoko could possibly
show, really.
Because / liked Yoko.
I liked the sort of daffy ideas.
The whole thing,
it just appealed to me.
There was a piece called,
uh, 'Ceiling Painting'.
And there's a painting on the
ceiling, you see.
And my idea was for people to
climb up a long, long ladder,
just go on climbing up like
this, and then, finally,
reaching the ceiling and
you look at the painting
and it says "Yes", you know.
It said "Yes".
It made my decision to go
and see the rest of the show.
If it had said "No"
or, you know, "Uh-huh",
I would have left
the gallery then!
But because it was positive,
it said "Yes," I thought, "OK."
It's the first show I've
been to that said something,
you know, warm to me.
So then I decided to
see the rest of the show
and that's when we met.
What John saw in Yoko's work,
whether it was, you know,
the ladder piece with the
word "Yes" on it and that...
the notion of that kind
of openness to the world.
You know, just
"Yes", that was...
that was the essential quality of
living, was "Yes".
What he saw was a
reflection of himself.
He was an artist,
but what he'd say about Yoko is,
everything about
Yoko ls upside-down
from what we understand.
Whatever you hear,
whatever she says,
you've got to look at the other
side, always.
He got it. I mean, he...
Yoko touched him.
You know,
it's as though he was...
He had something missing
that he was looking for.
He had an emptiness.
I met him when they did
the "Strawberry Fields
Forever" video and stuff.
He was really,
really in bad shape.
I was walking with him
in the garden and, er...
he sat there,
kind of gazing at
this bunch of...
at this bush.
And he ripped off all the
leaves, like that.
I said, "Look, John,
that bush can't help it."
You don't have to hurt the
bush, you know."
And, "Klaus, I'm so unhappy."
He was really...
you know, kind of letting go
and he started crying, you know.
When it really did hit,
when The Beatles really did take
off, I mean...
there was no breathing room.
There was no choice in...
in life choices of what
you could and couldn't do.
I think the whole experience
was fun to start with, but then,
once you realised that,
"Well, this is my life," um,
and, in fact,
"It's not actually my life,
it's their life and who am
I any more within this?"
And that's when Yoko came,
that it changed I 00%.
She gave him
everything he needed
and he changed completely.
A-one, two, a-one,
two, three, four!
Stop asking us,
"Do you think it's going to work?"
You know, do something yourself.
The only way we can change it
is by changing it non-violently.
Because they've done the violent
kick for millions of years.
They're on all the
time selling their war
and selling their products.
We must do the same.
No matter how
beautiful a poem is,
if you can't share
it with people,
if you can't reach
people, then it's crap.
The only way to change the
world is change their minds.
We can do that,
we can still do that.
This bed is a platform.
Go away!
Did Yoko's presence, John,
did it lead to tension in the group?
- Was it part of the break-up?
- The tension was already there,
you see.
I said if we talk
about The Beatles,
I want you in the bag.
Are you going to do that?
What do you want me in the bag
for, John?
- Alright, fine.
- He's a sport!
In the interest of
communication, John.
All we're saying is,
give peace a chance.
If the least we can do
is give somebody a laugh,
we're willing to be
the world's clowns.
Well, they thought she
was a fruit-and-nut case,
and they thought that John had
lost his mind by being with her.
I was dismayed and appalled
by what you did,
sending back the MBE.
You used two huge,
catastrophic events of unspeakable horror
as a convenient reason,
when you might just as well have said,
"I got up and had a sinus
headache this morning."
A convenient reason for what?
For sending back the MBE.
This is my first day at work
and the first thing I had
to do in the Apple offices
was type this letter on a
really ropey old typewriter.
And it said, "Your Majesty,
I'm returning this MBE"
in protest against
Britain's involvement
in this Nigeria-Biafra thing,
against our support
of America in Vietnam
and against 'Cold Turkey'
slipping down the charts.
"With love, John Lennon of Bag."
Then he rang me immediately
at the Evening Standard
and said what he'd done.
And I said, "God
Almighty, done what?"
I think I said at the
time, "Well, are you sure"
that mentioning 'Cold Turkey'
and the war in Biafra...?
"You know,
they don't sort of mix well."
I thought, "You're crackers."
If I'm going to get
on the front page,
I might as well get on the front
page with the word "peace".
But you've made
yourself ridiculous!
The medal has nothing
to do with it.
- No, exactly!
- So?
This is why you've
got all the publicity.
But without the medal there
would have been no publicity.
I would have had to
think of something else
to interest our
brothers of the press.
And while they're bothering
about how long my hair is
and the irrelevancy
of 'Cold Turkey'
and "how dare you
insult the Queen"
and "your auntie was
upset by handing it back",
- the main purpose...
- That's a load of garbage!
OK, that's leaving the door
open as far as we're concerned.
I had this idea about
making a band that...
Nobody's really involved in it,
except the people in the band
are just plastic
boxes like this.
I just remember playing
on that show and then,
I was going,
"Where did Yoko go?"
And started looking around,
there was a bag on the floor
with Yoko in it with a
microphone lead in there.
And I was going,
"Where's that sound coming from?"
But it was kind of cool.
It was their own way of
expression at that time.
When we were doing the Toronto
thing, she was suddenly coming
out of her bag and started
screaming and doing things.
And the public couldn't do
anything with it, you know.
You could be happy they don't
throw tomatoes or something.
The fact, of course,
that she was a foreigner
was used nonstop.
I remember being shocked even
before I knew John and Yoko,
by the nastiness of some
of the attacks on her.
You have to understand The
Beatles and the relationship
with the English people,
the British people.
They were ours.
The entire country
was in love with them.
I can't tell you,
it was like,
there was the Beatles and the Queen
and that was it, you know.
And then, suddenly,
along comes this strange-looking woman,
you know, with all the
hair, and her hair fell down
So you just sort of see
a little bit of her face.
in black all the time.
And this woman is
stealing our John,
our John, our Beatle, away.
That's got to be a tough call,
having all that
anger thrown at you.
Because, one minute you're
loved by the world and then,
you know, despised by many.
Having to defend your life
on pretty much every level
is a pretty hard thing
to have to deal with
after what you've
just been through.
I mean, that's a complete
180 on every level.
I knew he wanted to
get away from it.
It was as though he was
trapped by being a Beatle.
He really just wanted to end it.
He wanted to be an artist.
He wanted to be an artist,
he wanted to be John, you know,
and it says in the song,
"I was," you know...
"And now I'm just
John," you know.
"So, my friends,
you'll have to carry on," you know.
I like being young, you see.
I didn't know you were
in drag all the time.
- He is in drag.
- You're just pretending.
- He's a big pretender.
- Oh, shit.
- Come on.
- Just watch out now.
A pretender. That's terrific.
Oh, wow.
I got it, I got the message.
Now, you got your real
pretender thing going on.
Oh, I got it. I got you.
This is for love I'm doing this.
You understand? And for art.
- He just wanted to strip.
- The sake of art.
I didn't want to strip.
Yeah, well,
tell us if you need any spaces.
Almost everything Yoko did
was to try to get the audience
or the observer to take part.
And to use their own minds and
to awaken things in their minds
and this is a perfect
example of it.
It is wonderful to have
you here with us today
at the 'Grapefruit'
signing session.
We have Miss Self
ridge and Mr Self ridge
and all the little Self ridges.
'Cloud Piece'
"Imagine the clouds dripping."
"Dig a hole in your
garden to put them in."
"1963, spring."
It is very funny.
Cos the clouds aren't going to
go in the hole in the garden.
It's just a nice way of saying
let your imagination run.
That's what it means to me.
This is classic Yoko.
It starts with the
word "imagine".
A bit of existential nonsense.
I'm not impressed.
The 'clouds dripping' is that
a good thing or a bad thing?
And do you get rid of them
by putting them in a
hole in the garden?
I imagine myself crying...
and using my tears to
make myself stronger.
The customer's always right!
Want a drink?
David Bailey's studio.
Two-six-five, take one.
They were a merged unit,
they were more than
a husband and wife.
They were more
than a partnership.
They had completely merged
their sensibilities.
What's this film for,
your grandchildren?
No. For the record.
We've just made a record.
That's great. Stay like that.
Don't move a thing,
just point that toe down.
It was just a shoot.
You know,
it wasn't anything special.
I just let them lead
me, in a way.
Good. Now...
It's really like Blue
Angel, isn't it?
- Yeah. Say "lesbian".
- Lesbian.
Chin down a bit.
Eyes at me, yeah.
He was an asshole,
so I thought he was great.
I really got on great with him.
He could've been a cockney.
Cos you were the
great David Bailey,
it was probably life or death
whether you came out
all right or not.
You were one of the
Swinging Englanders.
No, I wasn't.
Come on! As much as we were.
- No. Much less.
- Bullshit!
I've never been down the
King's Road in my life.
Neither did I,
till I read about it in the papers.
He was flirting
with her in a way,
but flirting with her
in front of a camera.
It looked much nicer before.
That hand's a bit forced.
Yeah, right. That's what I say.
Shall we get back in?
It's always cosy.
He was pushing it
to be more sexy.
It seemed almost adolescent,
a bit adolescent to do.
That's what I felt at the time.
That's great. Good.
Kiss her this way a bit
more, John.
- Yeah.
- That's lovely. Good.
- OK, good.
- I like this bit.
He fancied her so much.
Relax. Don't move.
Stay like that.
He was doing it for
us, in a way.
He was showing his
emotions for her.
He was letting us see it.
'Jealous Guy' was such a
beautiful piece of music.
So typically John Lennon,
intuitive, like,
'nothing to worry about'.
And then Klaus,
the way he hugged the beat.
I love it because it's
very personal, too,
because that was the moment
where I actually got so much
into what he was saying
and the way he was playing,
and I didn't know
what I was playing.
It was like a trance
sort of thing.
I didn't know what key I was in.
It just floated automatically.
I heard him singing and
watched him singing,
and listening to these
beautiful chords and feeling
the groove, so it was like
such a gentle little thing.
We weren't being
precious with it.
It just was
accommodating the lyric.
Would it be fair to
say we're getting away
from the property
concept of relationship?
That's all very
well intellectually,
but when you are in
love with somebody,
you tend to be jealous
and want to own them,
and possess them
100%, which I do.
But intellectually, before
that, well, I thought, "Right."
I mean,
"Owning a person is rubbish."
But I love Yoko,
I want to possess her completely.
I don't want to stifle her.
I think we're starting to relax.
And because you have so little as a
child, I think it is.
Once you find it,
you want to hang on to it.
You grab it so much,
you tend to kill it.
I particularly remember when
'Jealous Guy' was recorded,
and that was, I don't know,
five in the morning or something,
everybody got called
in to listen to this
and it was a very moving song.
Very powerful.
And I think people were
welling up and feeling,
you know,
kind of a real feeling of,
"Wow, this is amazing,
powerful stuff."
Diana said to me one morning,
we just got this
telegram and it says,
"Hi, I'm coming.
And I'll be there
soon, signed Claudio."
And everybody thought,
"Well, he can't get here,"
and I said, "I'm not so sure."
And lo and behold,
he turned up at the gate.
This was a shell-shocked Vietnam
veteran, a young man.
I think he'd been in a
hospital in San Francisco,
and he was about to be released.
Don't confuse the songs
with your own life.
I mean, they might have
relevance to your own life,
but a lot of things do.
And we went through
a number of things.
The police wanted to arrest
him, and John said, "Don't..."
you know, "Don't hurt him."
And then I had this
guy called Claudio
saying, "I'm
coming, I'm coming."
And I only have to look in
your eyes and then I'll know."
So last week,
he turned up at the house, you know.
He was obviously very,
very infatuated by John,
and he sent a lot of letters.
And some of the time,
he thought he was John.
But he also wanted to meet him,
desperately wanted to meet him.
So we've met, you know.
I'm just a guy, man, who writes songs.
We can only say hello.
And what else is there?
Yeah, I figured that if we met,
I'd know, you know,
just by meeting you.
But know what?
You know,
if what I was thinking was true.
- Is it true?
- Well, I guess not.
- Right. I'm just a guy, man.
- Yeah.
But... Yeah.
But it all fits.
Anything fits.
If you're tripping off on some trip,
anything fits, you know.
Remember that one, um...
"You can radiate
everything you are.
You can penetrate
anywhere you go"?
- Yeah.
- "Syndicate any..." Yeah.
That was just having
fun with words.
I thought of the
'radiate, syndicate...
'Radiate', she wrote that.
'Radiate and syndicate'.
I was just having
fun with words.
It was literally
a nonsense song.
I wouldn't tell you, unless...
I mean, Dylan does that,
anybody does it, you know.
They just take words,
you stick them together
and it's like throwing the
'I Ching' or something.
You just see what happens.
You take a bunch of
words, you throw them out
and see if they
have any meaning.
Some of them do,
some of them don't.
And your "Old Hare Krishna
has nothing on you"?
Yeah. Well, he don't.
You know, I mean, you're it.
See, that last album of mine
was me coming out of my dream.
Seems like it could've
been different.
What could've?
Well, before that last
album, the way it built up...
To me, it was just a
hallucination, a dream.
It is now... 'cause it's over.
You can last your whole life
on that dream, you know.
And then it's all over.
You weren't thinking
of anyone in particular
when you were singing all that?
How could I be?
How could I be thinking of you, man?
Well, I don't know.
Maybe... I don't care me,
but it's all somebody.
I'm thinking about me, or at
best, Yoko, if it's a love song.
You know, and I maybe think
about an audience in general.
If I'm singing "Old Hare
Krishna got nothing on you",
I'm sort of talking to any old
friends who've been listening
to what we were saying and I'm
saying, "Look, well",
I think it's a lot of
bullshit, now."
You know,
"Let's forget it," you know.
And that,
as far as I'm concerned, and...
But that's it.
I'm basically singing about me.
I'm saying, you know,
"I had a good shit today,"
and, "This is what I
thought this morning,"
and, "I love you, Yoko."
Whatever. I'm singing about
me and my life, you know.
If it's relevant for
other people's lives,
that's all right.
He had great empathy,
which, if you think about
it, can be very painful.
You know, he cared.
Are you hungry?
- Hmm?
- Yeah.
Let's give him something to eat.
I Went there, I think,
about three or four times,
sometimes to do the interview
and sometimes just to hang out.
One day, John rang and said...
"Do you want to come over?"
I've got a new song I
want to play it to you.
And it's part of a new album.
Well, there's only three
I've written this year.
All the rest were things
I'd written before
and just polished them off.
There's a nice one called
'Crippled Inside...
I'll play it you later.
We just chatted.
I have to shave my moustache
off, have my hair cut,
because I went in
under false papers...
Yes, I read it.
We heard it too because of...
We were talking
about the government,
we were talking about what
was going on in Vietnam,
the Cultural
Revolution in China,
the Japanese student movement.
Did I hear there was
some good news on China?
Well, there's some
good news on Vietnam.
The impression we have is that
if we discussed it
more concretely,
the Vietnamese would
be very pleased.
The things that
were animating them
were the things that were
animating, you know,
a whole generation.
The war in Vietnam,
in particular.
Difficult to explain
now to people
how much that war
did to radicalise us.
And the election
of Richard Nixon
escalated the war further.
I mean, they took it one
whole country further
by wrecking Cambodia,
bombing it indiscriminately
and destroying its government.
The world's largest,
most powerful military nation
bombing what was essentially
a peasant country.
They were deliberately
targeting civilians.
There was a great
revolution taking place
across the globe.
The youth of that
time were saying,
"We don't like the
world we were born into.
We want it to be different.
We want to change it."
Coming of age in the late '60s,
learning about the
civil rights movement,
learning about the
war in Vietnam,
I started to become
angry and upset.
And, to a certain extent,
embarrassed that I
was part of a big lie.
There were riots
outside the American Embassy.
It didn't go down well with the
Establishment, that's for sure.
And the older generation
didn't appreciate it.
The people are the government,
the people have the power.
All we have to do is awaken
the power in the people.
You know,
these impressions never go away.
I can still see them.
And they were hugely
important in radicalising me.
And so,
we used lo discuss these things.
And Yoko, of course, knew.
She said, "Yeah, I know",
and you know what
they did to Japan
and the way they
bombed my country.
War was not an
abstraction to her.
She experienced it first-hand.
Yoko came from an
extraordinarily privileged class
from a banking family.
And then the skies opened
up and the bombs fell.
And she spoke to me about
being in the countryside...
looking for food,
looking for shelter...
and looking for some way
home that no longer existed.
In the Second World War, !
was in the middle of it.
All the kids had to evacuate.
And we evacuated
in a country house.
Even now,
I remember how my brother,
who was really always happy...
Like this, you know?
And he sat like that.
Like this.
So I said, "Kei,
what's happening?"
"Well, I'm hungry."
I didn't know what to do,
because we didn't have the food.
So, I said, "OK,
let's create a great menu!"
And I said,
"What would you like most to eat?"
"Ice cream!"
"OK, ice cream."
He started to get
sort of happier.
And I thought, "Oh, my God,
this is great," you know.
And you imagined a meal, then?
'Imagine' made a lot
of things for me.
Give it to Jacqueline!
Yeah, you're the next
oldest, Jacque.
Yeah, well,
I don't like reading, do I ?
Yeah, you do.
You got good reports
in your reading.
- No, I didn't.
- Yes, you did.
I didn't.
You didn't exactly get
E, did you?
"Skin 2,000 balloons, fly them in the air.
1964, spring.
That's 'Fly Piece'."
Well, if you skinned a balloon,
it wouldn't be able to
fly, would it?
No, you've got to
use your imagination,
or it doesn't mean
anything, otherwise.
I'm going to put a board on now.
This is A1, head slate.
It probably took no more
than two or three hours
to get the core of
'Imagine' into shape.
Then it was refinement for the
rest of the recording session.
Played over you...
See, I think it would be
better if he just played...
We're not getting any of it.
Either a piano underneath.
It should just be a piano
song, you know.
when we tape I'd go to him...
Nicky, we can try you an
octave higher on the piano,
playing the same as me, almost.
Yeah, OK.
John would do that
sort of thing,
"Come and sit down,
and play with me."
They'd play it together and
see if they could enhance it.
No, do the same as me.
The thought was that the
piano in the white room,
because it was a
far better piano
than the upright in the studio,
that it would give a
better piano sound.
Yoko, why don't you go
in there and listen,
instead of being here?
OK. Let's just try it with
piano, bass and drums.
Yeah, good.
We'll come in on the F now.
I don't think you can stay in,
but just try coming in on the F.
John tried it out,
but there was just too much room content.
The room was too reverberant.
And it wasn't a complementary
reverberation to the piano.
The piano sounds terrible.
Play it on this... And Nicky...
And then well track
it later or something.
That might be the best answer.
Yeah, OK. Well, look,
I'll just do it and track it myself,
but not in octaves,
the same key, you know.
- Same register?
- Yeah, right, right.
- The problem is in that room.
- OK, let's go, then.
It's spread out like hell.
I wish they'd told us before.
"And the world will be as one!"
So, we'll have to do this some other
day, ladies and gentlemen!
You see? Because they've
only taken an hour, you see,
to tell us that the noise
is spreading in this room,
you see?
Just don't forget.
Well, it was in the afternoon,
and I think it was the first
song we played in that day.
And everybody came in and,
"We're gonna do
'Imagine' today."
That's the best, I think.
And so, we all stood
around and listened to it.
And it was apparent that that
was going to be a big, big one.
- Vibes.
- Vibes, right.
He played it on the piano
and he gave everybody lyrics,
and he wanted
everybody to read them.
First of all,
I didn't care about
what the drums played
because the lyrics
were so stunning,
so I said,
"I've just go to really cater"
to what this song needs.
It was just so simple,
So nice and, still, to this day,
I feel that if he would have
played it just on the piano,
no bass, no drums, no strings,
no nothing,
it would have been enough.
The song was really
finished already.
The feeling of the vocal
and what the words meant
were really huge, in my mind.
Imagine what it means if we
can get rid of all the labels,
all the categories,
all the things that divide us,
and imagine that.
Because that's the way to peace.
It's that, at first,
you have to see it,
you have to be
able to imagine it.
And the role of the
imagination, not just in art,
but in being a
complete human being.
He's not shoving it
down people's throats.
I mean, this is what I admire.
And it's not religious,
it's not political.
It's just humanity and life.
To imagine something
ls not a passive experience.
That if you want
the kind of world
that's expressed in that song,
you have to do
something about it.
It was a demonstrable
call to action.
A lot of people have said,
"Well, you know,
it's all a bit too dreamy."
Yeah, but we all actually really
want what he's singing about.
We all want that.
And I think that's
why, even today,
the song is still so important.
Because, the sad thing is,
the world is still in a bad way.
Why is it impossible to
move forward in these dreams
and make them a reality?
He was always saying to me,
"Our appeal, your appeal,
"it's too limited, we've got to
get more people involved," etc.
And I think he wanted
'Imagine' to be...
It's almost like a
manifesto for a movement.
A utopian manifesto for
a progressive movement.
And he wanted to appeal to...
the world outside.
"If you agree with these aims,
come with us and we'll
create a new world."
That was the way
he wrote that song.
I hear Yoko,
because those are all her words.
You know?
Those words are...
I love John, but, you
know, those were her words.
She was speaking through him.
You know, I mean, I don't think
the world's got that quite yet,
but all of this...
You know,
the language that you see
from the time they got
together, forward,
is Yoko's language.
She taught him this language.
That should be credited
as a Lennon-Ono song
because a lot of it,
the lyric and the concept, came from Yoko.
But those days, I was a bit more
selfish, a bit more macho,
and I sort of omitted to
mention her contribution.
But it was right out of
'Grapefruit', her book.
There's a whole piece about
imagine this and imagine that,
and give her credit
now, long overdue.
I feel, in the big picture...
the fact that John and I met...
was to do this song.
- 283 on the end.
- Excellent.
We have a movie.
- Cut!
- What?
That's the full output...
I'm going for a piss.
All the photographs...
Yoko said she had this idea of
John with clouds in his eyes.
OK, I can get the glasses
for this tomorrow.
So, we get the glasses
in the morning,
and in the afternoon,
I do this photograph,
this photograph,
and this photograph.
Yeah. OK, so,
the light should be from there
just to above the eyebrows.
Yes, I'm doing it a bit larger,
John, so that we can cut it.
I had taken a bunch of pictures of
John, blown them up,
and cut the eyes out,
that was the original idea.
And then we took pictures
of clouds and put them in.
- It's not the final version.
- Oh, yes.
No, but you see,
and then in the back,
there will be a profile.
- Yes, 'Imagine.'
- 'Imagine'.
But the problem was,
it looked weird.
It would be more
delicately done.
How would we do that, then?
Just have a slide...
It's going to be
called 'Imagine'.
- Yeah.
- Very, very, good.
Freaky, isn't it?
When we were at
Tittenhurst Park,
John and everybody was
running around with Polaroids
and they found out this
way of exposing it twice.
Just like you took a picture
and then you take
a photo of the sky,
a cloud or something.
He had this Polaroid,
he had a Snoot Polaroid,
it had a long nose.
It was for taking portraits.
And he said, "The wonderful thing
is, I can take a picture"
and then I can take
another picture
"and I get a double exposure."
And, so,
Yoko took a picture of John
and then took a
picture of the clouds.
And, of course, she got it.
Sorry I'm a little late.
That's all right,
you're just in time in a way.
We're OK.
Just this intro I want you on.
Just comes in,
it goes from A to D.
That's it!
I want them hooked on the sax,
so they're waiting for it
all through the record.
You're going to be in the frame.
Is that camera in the frame? No.
Just relax, you don't have to
be in or out of the picture.
Just do whatever you have to
do, OK?
It's going to be a clock,
so it's not like a proper movie.
It'll just be like a background.
At the time,
the job was to take a lot of film
that was shot in England,
in various places.
It was all very experimental
and I don't think we really knew
exactly what we
were going to do.
So fucking hot, isn't it?
We went up to the suite in
the St Regis and met them.
Hey, que pasa?
Who's this, please, que pasa?
Karen. I've got news for you.
I don't think we
really knew exactly
what we were going to do,
except take all this footage
and edit it with the songs.
That's how we set out.
We had thousands of feet of film
of just about everything
you can imagine.
There was a lot of stuff
besides Tittenhurst,
there was a recording session.
There was some kind of
political demonstration
through the streets of London.
There was stuff on the lake.
In addition to all the film
that came from Tittenhurst
and other places in
and around London,
we shot quite a bit in New York
City, because we realised that
we wanted to get that part of
their lives into the movie,
and that we didn't really
have anything showing
what they were doing in New
York City and what it was like.
The whisper piece was one of
my favourite things in Imagine'
That was Yoko's concept.
People that Yoko knew and
that had some celebrity,
generally, would come in
to visit with John and Yoko
and the three of them,
would stand side by side
and they would...
And you don't know what they're
saying, they're just whispering.
To me, what I got out of if,
was that it was people whispering
cos there's a lot
of secrets in life.
And many of which
don't mean anything,
so it doesn't matter
whether you hear it or not.
It was people whispering.
I realised that,
after a few songs,
that there was a
sense to it all.
We were starting to paint
a picture of their life,
of how they did things and
how they lived their life
and what was going
on in their life.
I think John loved the
energy of New York City,
there's no question about that.
And I think he loved that
it was an opportunity
for him to become an American.
He saw New York as being
kind of a bit like Liverpool,
or the Liverpool 8 area,
where the art college was.
And Yoko was,
in a way, American.
I know she's Japanese,
but she's mainly American.
She wanted to live there.
She felt happy there.
They loved New York,
absolutely loved New York.
It was like, "Wow!"
You know, "I'm
here, this is it."
So, for him, that was it.
He was in the Village,
it was like in the centre of it all,
of the culture.
He was John... Lennon. Yeah.
He wasn't Beatle John.
How did you like
Yoko Ono's show?
Well, it was a little
different, I have to admit.
Can I ask you,
did you enjoy Yoko Ono's show?
- I certainly did.
- Thank you.
- Yoko?
- Ono.
Oh, Yoko Ono, yes.
No, I did see it.
Do you like her work?
I don't know much about her.
She's Japanese, isn't she?
Have you had many enquiries
about Yoko's show?
I have indeed.
One morning,
I'm sitting in my office
and my secretary comes in
and she said,
"You have to take this phone call."
I said, "Who is it?"
She said, "It's the director
of the Museum of Modern Art."
He said, "Did you see the
paper, today?"
And sure enough,
there's a one-third page ad
about an art show at the
Museum of Modern Art,
a Yoko Ono art show.
Are you familiar
with Yoko's work?
No. I've never seen anything,
but I've heard of films,
you know, like,
she just makes films of 365 behinds
and I saw her film of the body
with the fly walking on it.
I called Yoko.
I said, "Yoko, I've just gotten a call"
from the director of the
Museum of Modern Art.
There's supposed to be an
art show there today. ""
She said, "Yes."
I said, "What kind of art show?"
She said,
"It's a conceptual art show."
I said, "What does that mean?"
She said, "It's just in my
mind, it's a concept."
There's no Yoko Ono show here.
I was a little mad about
getting here and not finding it,
but I think it's pretty funny.
I think it's a bit bonkers.
- Do you know what bonkers is?
- No, what's that mean?
- Crazy, is it?
- Yeah, yeah.
That's good old Liverpudlian,
"bonkers", you know. Yeah, yeah.
I think it's too far out for
me, anyway.
Well, like,
maybe if you look at a picture,
then you can think of a whole
bunch of different things.
You know?
- Exactly.
- Is that what you mean?
Right. Except if you
take it a step further,
if there's no picture to look at
and it's just all in your head.
It's just what you think.
Then you would have a
very good museum there.
At 3.35pm, Karen called.
What time does that say?
I can't even see it.
Oh, it's time.
At quarter to,
he broke the lights.
That's what happens
at quarter to.
But I always wanted to write
something that would be
a Christmas record that
would last forever, you know?
John called me one day, he said,
"We want to do a
record for Christmas.
We've got to do it really
quick, book the studio."
We don't have a bass
sound at all yet.
Phil was the producer and
it was a beautiful session.
Nicky, you come in on the D
chord, as well.
With the bass drum,
you have to...
You're coming in on the
same place Nicky comes in,
on that D chord,
after the first.
You play the guitar
by themselves,
then you and the bass come in.
John said,
"In conjunction with the song",
I want to get a billboard
in Times Square. ""
John was thrilled with it,
Yoko loved where it was.
It was a prime location.
Huge billboards, all around,
selling anything
you can imagine.
And all of it was
in brilliant colour
and in the midst of it was this
stark, white billboard
not selling anything,
but letting people know
that war could be over
if enough of you believed it.
It was Yoko's
belief that people,
If they wanted something strong
enough, could achieve it.
WAR IS OVER! IF YOU WANT I And she believed that if enough
people wanted war to be over,
it would be over.
WAR IS OVER! IF YOU WANT I "War is over, if you want it."
Well, that's artistic,
too, you see?
"War is over" is
not war is over.
But conceptually, it is over.
When you're in a city,
there's stuff going on.
In Tittenhurst,
they were cut off,
they were cut off, artistically,
from what you can get.
Yoko never really fitted in,
into English country life.
And, later, of course,
it was Yoko who said
that this island here in
which they were living
was too small and too big
at the same time for her.
She didn't want it.
And John said to me,
"We're moving to Manhattan."
Yoko can't bear this anymore.
And who could blame him?
There were a lot of great
moments at Tittenhurst
that I do fondly remember,
giggling and laughing with Dad.
And, er, as they say...
'shooting the shit'...
But it was difficult to know...
You think, "OK, well..."
is this going to stay?
Is this what it's going to
be, now?
Can I count on this?
Can I be here next weekend,
"or the weekend after?
Is that going to happen?"
That was one of the, obviously,
the hardest pills to swallow,
was the constant change.
You know, you thought things
were going to settle down,
but they just never quite did.
I'm trying to remember when
they actually went to the States
because when they went,
that was actually the
last time I saw them.
And then when they
didn't come back again.
I can't even remember
them actually leaving
or saying goodbye.
I never said goodbye to
him, never did.
I lose a little rhythm here.
Come in, John,
because you may have the opening.
But you can just
use the first bridge
and then the last "How can we?"
Oh, I see.
- 79 on the end.
- I think the 99th clap.
Camera B.