On John Lennon’s 71st Birthday
By Jeff Walker
Those who read his diary from 1980 suggest that he was in fact not overly impressed with his own comeback in 1980, in sharp contrast to many of us who are remain extremely impressed to this very day. No, John was rather iffy about his re-emergence into the world of recording. ‘Been there, done that, so why am I doing it all over again for?’ That would be a fair paraphrasing of how he was feeling about the renewed spotlight. Yes, I believe he would have assembled a band and taken ‘Double Fantasy’ on the road in early 1981. But a never-widowed Yoko was not a Yoko that the public was ready to warm to. I somehow doubt that a John Lennon comeback tour co-starring Yoko would have gone over very well. That is not to demean Yoko, whose best work just got better and better in subsequent decades. It’s just that, in Yoko terminology, the stars were not aligned yet for a renewed John and Yoko duo act in 1981. Would they have ever been?
Indeed John’s best post-1960s songs should be paired, just not with Yoko’s, but rather with the best of Paul, George and Ringo. As nature intended. And as outlined in Let’s Put the Beatles Back Together Again 1970-2010. I believe that a 1981 John & Yoko tour generating merely a luke-warm response might have sent a disgruntled John back into seclusion. But not to mope. I think he might then have tried his hand, now and again, at other things--writing perhaps, much as George spent the mid-1980s executive-producing film. And a reunion with the Beatles, of some kind--perhaps a performance and an album, might have come to pass in the mid-1980s.
Frankly, though, I don’t think John had the compulsion to write sonngs, record them and perform them ‘live’--not the way Paul obviously did. So, while I believe “the jerk of all jerks” killed off a Beatles reunion album and another album’s-worth of solo material beyond his Milk & Honey tracks, what mainly died with John were various sorties that he would likely have made into other realms. I don’t know whether these adventures into the unknown would have been successful. I just wish for his own sake that he’d had a chance to go there. Because we loved him--whatever he might have chosen to do. “Seventy-one and just begun.” How I wish I could hear him say that on October 9th.