Anthology of John Lennon Interviews Offers Intimate Look at Icon
Music journalist Jeff Burger talks to Steve Adubato about one of the most iconic musicians of our time, John Lennon. Burger's new book, “Lennon on Lennon,” an anthonloyg of some of Lennon's most illuminating interviews, reveals a whole new side to the man and artist.
"Welcome to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. I'm Steve Adubato. It is my pleasure to introduce, for the first time with us, Mr. Jeff Burger, who has written Lennon on Lennon: Conversations with the great John Lennon. How you doing? Great. Good to be here. Jeff, let me ask you this. The premise of the book, describe it. And they're not interviews, they're conversations? Yeah. I'm glad you picked up on that, because my first two books both had the word "interviews" in the subtitle, and this book, "conversations" was more appropriate. John Lennon did do some back and forth formal Q&A's, but not too many. He tended to do... he tended to want dialogue with friends and more relaxed conversations. And in this book, for example, he's got one conversation, lying on his bed with Yoko Ono and Howard Smith, a New York radio personality, eating shrimp and talking for hours, while Beatles songs are playing on the radio. There's another conversation with Dennis Elsas, the... WNEW? WNEW at the time, now WFUV, where Lennon came into the station and played DJ for a couple of hours, and did the weather reports, and read the commercials, and so on. And then there's another one where he spent the whole afternoon, also in my book, a whole afternoon with three young college students, and just talked. Those were conversations, not interviews. And the last conversation in here was? On the day he died. On the day he died. Yeah. Hours before he died. You know, as I was getting ready for this show and looking at excerpts from the book, one of the things that struck me is that I felt that it was important that you explained to some things... some things about Lennon to our audience, that you picked up the most surprising thing about Lennon, in terms of this transformation, what he was, back in the 19... early 1960's, to what he became at the time of his death? Yeah. He went through a number of transformations, and the interesting thing about this whole book series is that the interviews appear in chronological order. So you can really see, you know, the steps. At the beginning of this book, he's a tongue tied newly famous kid who can barely answer questions about Beatle haircuts and, you know, and the group. Only a couple of years later, he's talking quite articulate... in a quite articulate way, about politics and world issues. And he changes quite a lot over that time, and at the beginning, of course, he's excited about being a Beatle. Then after he leaves the Beatles, he talks very bitterly about the Beatle years..."