Friday, November 16, 2018

Seeing Between the Lines

Anyone who knows me knows I love John Lennon; I know a ton about him.

But I have come to learn that you should never get too comfortable with your “knowledge” because even when you think you have everything understood and you feel you simply can’t be surprised or shocked, life comes along and just knocks you off your butt.

Such was the case the other day when I was listening to the very last interview that John Lennon did. It was in his apartment in the Dakota on the day of his death, December 8th, 1980, and it was with RKO Radio.

I had been very familiar with this interview.  I was also very familiar with the very last photo shoot that John Lennon did. It was on the same day of the interview, it was with Annie Leibowitz, and it was where we got that iconic photo of Lennon, naked and clinging to Yoko.

Another photo of Lennon that came out of a separate photo session with Leibowitz that day, a session that excluded Yoko, is a photo that is a little less known. It shows Lennon in the Dakota, sitting on a windowsill looking cool, wearing casual clothing and this nice black leather jacket.

As far as I had always thought, the RKO interview and that picture of Lennon at the windowsill were just two separate things that related to, or were a part of,  Lennon’s last day.

But then just recently, I had been again listening to the RKO interview and I picked up on something very interesting.

You see, for the interview, Lennon arrived late. In fact, if you listen to the recording, RKO spends a good amount of time initially just chatting with Yoko, because John is MIA.

But when listening again to the interview the other day, I heard for the first time what Lennon actually says when he does finally show up.

He makes an apology.

He says he is sorry that he is tardy, he hadn't meant to be, but “I’d just put on me jacket to leave, and she said, ‘Ooh, can I have one with the jacket?’ So we took one with the jacket.”

Lennon, it seems, had been downstairs in the Dakota with Annie Leibowitz doing that photo shoot, the one that yielded that shot with the leather jacket.

So, I was able to gather that the only thing that had separated the last interview Lennon ever did from that photo shoot was, perhaps, an elevator ride.

And for a moment, things became a little clearer. I was able to imagine Lennon’s last day a little better. It wasn’t just something in a book; it wasn’t just an idea. Here we had a person, a real person, who was in his home apologizing to a room full of people because the photographer who had been taking pictures of him had held him up.

It might be crazy to say it, but by learning more about those two events and how the one affected the other, I was able to go behind the scenes for a moment, to see a little bit between the lines -- not "read" but  "see"  -- and being able to do so both exhilarated and scared me.

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