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Ballad of John and Yoko

Ballad of John and Yoko

April 14, 1969

 

On August 23, 1962 John Lennon had married Cynthia Powell.  They had met in 1957 while both were students at Liverpool Art College,  She discovered she was pregnant and John's reaction when she told him was: "There's only one thing for it Cyn - we'll have to get married."
On the verge of succeeding as a band particularly with many female teenagers, manager Brian Epstein kept the marriage low key.
On April 8, 1963 Julian Lennon was born.

John meets Yoko

On November 7, 1966, John  visited the Indica Gallery in London where he met Yoko Ono who was displaying her art.
Ballad of John and Yoko
poster for Yoko’s exhibition
Of that meeting, John later reflected, "The old gang of mine was over the moment I met her. I didn't consciously know it at the time, but that's what was going on. As soon as I met her, that was the end of the boys, but it so happened that the boys were well known and weren't just the local guys at the bar." (from All We Are Saying, by David Sheff)
On November 8, 1968 Cynthia Lennon and John divorced.  Cynthia had filed for divorce in August 1968 after putting  up John and Yoko's relationship.
On November 21, 1968,  Yoko suffered a miscarriage.

John Yoko marry

On March 20, 1969 John and Yoko married in Gibraltar.

 

Ballad of John and Yoko

On April 14, 1969, John Lennon and Paul McCartney recorded "The Ballad of John and Yoko." John had written the song in the days following his and Yoko's marriage. Work on the Let It Be album had often been contentious among the less-than-Fab Four. The break-up was imminent, but Paul McCartney later reflected, "John was in an impatient mood so I was happy to help. It's quite a good song; it has always surprised me how with just the two of us on it, it ended up sounding like The Beatles." (from Many Years From Now by Barry Miles)
The song was recorded at Abbey Road's Studio Three in a session beginning at 2.30 pm and ending at 9 pm.
It was then mixed for stereo, and was finished and ready for release by 11 pm. According to George Martin, Yoko Ono was present in the studio, although she appears to have played no part in the recording.
George Martin later said in Anthology, "I enjoyed working with John and Yoko on The Ballad Of John And Yoko. It was just the two of them with Paul. When you think about it, in a funny kind of way it was the beginning of their own label, and their own way of recording. It was hardly a Beatle track. It was a kind of thin end of the wedge, as far as they were concerned. John had already mentally left the group anyway, and I think that was just the beginning of it all." 
In 1966, John comments regarding the Beatles and Christianity had gotten no reaction in the UK but blew up in the American press. Some radio stations refused to play Beatle music.
Aware that the Ballad line "Christ you know it ain't easy" could re-ignite that controversy, the song was kept "secret" until its release.
The song was released on May 30 in the UK and June 4 in the US. True to expectations, some top-40 US stations refused to play it and some played a version with the word "Christ" reversed in an attempt to avoid criticism.
Ironically, the Spanish government had no issue with the word Christ, but did have a problem with the line "you can get married in Gibraltar near Spain" as Spain considered Gibraltar part of Spain not the UK.
Ballad of John and Yoko
cover of John and Yoko’s wedding album
Here are the lyrics which tell John and Yoko's story:
Standing in the dock at Southampton
Trying to get to Holland or France
The man in the mac said
You’ve got to go back
You know they didn’t even give us a chance(chorus) Christ you know it ain’t easy
You know how hard it can be
The way things are going
They’re going to crucify meFinally made the plane into Paris
Honeymooning down by the Seine
Peter Brown call to say
You can make it O.K.
You can get married in Gibraltar near Spain(chorus)Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton
Talking in our beds for a week
The newspapers said Say what’re you doing in bed
I said we’re only trying to get us some peace(chorus)Saving up your money for a rainy day
Giving all your clothes to charity
Last night the wife said
Oh boy when you’re dead
You don’t take nothing with you but your soul, thinkMade a lightning trip to Vienna
Eating chocolate cake in a bag
The newspapers said
She’s gone to his head
They look just like two gurus in drag(chorus)Caught the early plane back to London
Fifty acorns tied in a sack
The men from the press
Said we wish you success
It’s good to have the both of you back(chorus)

Ballad of John and Yoko

 

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John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander

John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander

March 13, 1973
“Remember” By Harry Nilsson

John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander

                    The 1970s arrived and the Beatles departed. Each of them recording albums, releasing singles. Separately.
                    After the commercial flop of his "Some Time in New York City" album, John Lennon's post-Beatle life became reckless . Many continued to blame Yoko and him  for the Beatle break-up. In reality, the seeds of disunion were from within. The band too often ignored gentle George Harrison's musical contributions. They had put aside the affable Ringo Starr. "He was just lucky, not talented" was a common misconception. John and Paul, who had rarely truly collaborated on songs, had gone in different directions long before 1969.

May Pang

John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander                   

John and Yoko's marriage was on the rocks and they mutually agreed to separate. In fact a separation that included John's living with May Pang, their common assistant.
Lennon and Pang spent time in both New York City and Los Angeles. John referred to his and Yoko's time of separation as "The Lost Weekend." [Wikipedia entry on movie]

John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander

The Beatles admired Harry Nilsson and John looked up Harry when he and May arrived in LA. Nilsson loved to party and was very good at getting others to party with him and equally good at getting others in trouble.
According to May Pang, John...”loved his energy; he loved his writing. What he loved in Harry was the beauty of his friendship and relaxed personality. That’s what he saw. Harry drank, a lot. But Harry was the type of guy that if you go out drinking with him, he’d be sure at the end of the night that there would be a big brawl and that you are the one who’s in trouble, even though he started it. Harry would keep feeding John drinks until it was too late.”
                   CBS TV had cancelled the Smothers brothers show and they were returning to live club performances. They were at the Troubadour on March 13, 1974. John Lennon was drunk on Brandy Alexanders (thank you Harry) and disrupted the brothers' act with relentless heckling (thank you Harry who told John that the brothers worked best if heckled). Smothers’ manager Ken Fritz said, “I went over and asked Harry to try to shut up Lennon. Harry said, ‘I’m trying – don’t blame me!’ When Lennon continued, I told him to keep quiet. He swung and hit me in the jaw.
Lennon and Nilsson were hustled out of the Troubadour, knocking over a few tables in the process. “It was horrendous,” Tom Smothers recalled.

The Last of Lennon-McCartney

The Troubadour incident was a wake-up call for Lennon and Nilsson. Lennon soon announced he would produce Nilsson’s next album, ‘Pussy Cats.’ They decided that the LP’s musicians should live together during the sessions. Lennon and Nilsson, along with Ringo Starr and Keith Moon, moved into a Santa Monica beach house.
                Two weeks later on March 28, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney unexpectedly joined Lennon, Nilsson and others for a midnight jam. Ringo had been there, but left earlier, so McCartney sat in on drums and sang harmony to Lennon’s lead vocals. Lennon also played guitar with Wonder on electric piano. Despite the star-studded lineup, standards like ‘Lucille’ and ‘Stand By Me,’ marred by technical problems, were disappointing.
                By evening’s end, Lennon and McCartney agreed to see each other again but it would be the last time the two ex-Beatles would play together in a studio.

John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander

John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander

John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander

John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander

John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander

John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander

John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander

John Lennon Meets Brandy Alexander

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John Lennon Instant Karma

John Lennon Instant Karma

January 27, 1970

Instant Karma Instant Karma Instant Karma Instant Karma Instant Karma Instant Karma Instant Karma Instant Karma


While only a few might say that Instant Karma is John Lennon’s greatest song, many would agree that it’s one of his best solo works.


No matter where one ranks it (if one needs to do that to begin with) most songs do not happen in one day, but with Instant Karma, one day it was. The way John describes it: “I wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch and we’re putting it out for dinner.”


Only the dinner reference is hyperbole. It took ten days to release!


John Lennon Instant Karma


Instant Karma was the third Lennon single to appear before the official Beatles breakup.



According to the Beatles Bible site, “Its title came from Melinde Kendall, the wife of Yoko Ono’s former husband Tony Cox. She had used the phrase in conversation during Lennon and Ono’s stay with them in Denmark during December 1969 and the following month.”


John Lennon Instant Karma


According to Lennon himself, “It just came to me. Everybody was going on about karma, especially in the Sixties. But it occurred to me that karma is instant as well as it influences your past life or your future life. There really is a reaction to what you do now. That’s what people ought to be concerned about. Also, I’m fascinated by commercials and promotion as an art form. I enjoy them. So the idea of instant karma was like the idea of instant coffee: presenting something in a new form. I just liked it.” [from David Sheff’s All We Are Saying]


It was January 27, 1970. Phil Spector was visiting George Harrison in London and John called George about the project. George suggested Phil produce. They booked time at the studio that evening.  There were just four people: John on piano, George on acoustic guitar, Klaus Voormann on bass, and Alan White on drums. Very late that night, Billy Preston and some friends helped add vocal backgrounds.


Instant Karma!


The flip side was Yoko Ono’s Who Has Seen the Wind.


John Lennon Instant Karma
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