Thirty years after the death of John Lennon, the world is again getting a rare glimpse of the former Beatle. A lost interview has surfaced and was covered on ABC’s Nightline, allowing fans of the legendary musician, a rare glimpse into his thoughts. That interview, released in this months issue of Rolling Stone, would be Lennon’s last interview because three days later, on December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman would end his life.
How did John Lennon feel about his role as a father?
According to the interview, Lennon’s feelings about being a father seemed mixed. He knew he was there for his son in a physical sense. He had left the music industry in 1975 to become a stay at home dad, but when it came to playing with his son, he found himself lacking. “I’m not the greatest dad on earth. I’m doing my best, but I’m a very irritable guy and I get depressed.” He felt he would withdraw from his son and then give to him before withdrawing again. He added, “So I write a song about him – I would have done well, more, well better for him to spend the time I wrote the f***** song actually playing ball.“
Lennon felt he didn’t know how to play and seemed hurt that while he was there for his son, he really wasn’t the dad he seemed to envision he should be. This is a thought that many fathers seem to share. Fathers want to be there for their kids, teaching them to play ball and helping to usher their children into being adults, but like Lennon, many don’t seem to understand how to just play on their level. They want them to be kids but at the same time, don’t have the patience to allow them to be the kids they are. For John Lennon, patience didn’t seem to be a factor he felt capable of.
How did he feel about the music industry?
Leaving the music industry in 1975 to be a stay at home dad seems to have been more than that for Lennon. Separated from his wife Yoko Ono, and still waiting for the birth of his son, he finished the tour he was on, questioning if he was saying goodbye to the music and the fans. He wasn’t happy with the way the music industry treated musicians saying “They like to imagine they create and break people, but they don’t. But they only like people on the way up.” He knew he had changed since his days with The Beatles, perhaps realizing he had grown up. The visions he had as an artist of the 60’s and the man, husband, and father he had become by the time of the interview, were very different and jaded.
“I can not be on the way up again. I can not be 25 again. I can not be what I was ten years ago. I can not be what I was five minutes ago.” John Lennon knew that he was at a turning point in his life. He could either move away from the business, or he could become a devoted father and husband. The business had been good to him,but it hadn’t been kind.
“What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean and all that and I’m not interested in being a dead f***** hero.” Lennon just wanted to be happy in his life and music. He wanted it on his terms, wasn’t willing to accept any less, and while he may not have wanted to be a dead hero, it is exactly what he would become.
“Starting Over” and beyond.
In October of 1980, John Lennon released (Just Like) Starting Over. It was his first single since leaving the music industry. The time seemed right, but it would be short lived. Mark David Chapman would end the life of the man cherished by so many people. A group called The Outfield released a song in 1990 on their Diamond Days album called John Lennon, and looking back on that song, it’s easy to see how many people Lennon impacted with his life and music, in both his fans as well as fellow musicians.
While John Lennon may be gone, he can never be forgotten. Lennon may have felt he was starting over in 1980, but for the millions of his fans he never really stopped and never will.
“John Lennon” by The Outfield