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Old Feb 03, 2013, 07:45 PM   #1
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Smile Brian Epstein's secretary describes John

I'm sure somewhere this may have been posted on Menlove or Beatlelinks, but as of now I haven't seen it anywhere else so I'm sharing this. I was just surfing around and happened upon an article discussing Brian's secretary Joanne Petersen's connection to the Beatles. She briefly describes each Beatle, but I am placing great emphasis on John here because, well, read:

Source: http://www.pomsinoz.com/forum/poms-s...e-beatles.html

JOANNE AND THE BEATLES

By Desmond Zwar

Londoner Joanne Petersen was as close as anyone to The Beatles.

As secretary to their manager, Brian Epstein, she saw them as ‘ordinary people’, with their public facades left aside, sighed through their tantrums with them, their highs and their lows.

Working today as director of creative services to music publishers MCA in Sydney, Joanne guides young song-writers to fame. Pausing along the way to share her memories...

Married to ex-Bee Gees drummer, Colin Petersen, Joanne recalls the personalities of the lads who became world famous…

Paul McCartney: 'He was the PR Beatle; always conscious of their public image and of keeping everyone happy. He had a sunny, outgoing nature. It was fairly important to Paul that everybody liked him.

'This was demonstrated in Manila when a nasty situation arose over a mix-up between The Beatles' PR and President Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. After their concert the boys were sitting in the aircraft waiting to go home, not realising anything untoward was going on. But at the Palace, the Marcos's were sitting, waiting for them to arrive and sign autographs. Nobody had told The Beatles.

'Somebody arrived at the plane to tell them to get off and go to the Palace. They had surrounded the plane with troops and the ground staff had downed tools to prevent it taking off. It was becoming an international incident.

'Paul could be seen through one of the aircraft windows, smiling; in fact he was angrily chewing the band's publicist Tony Barrow's head off. Paul realised he could be seen and that he was being photographed, so he kept on looking happy...

'I used to go and stay with Lulu in St John's Wood, which was just around the corner from where Paul lived. He had a sheep-dog, "Martha"; we used to walk Lulu's dog in the evenings and meet up with him walking Martha, who became famous in the song he wrote "Martha My Dear".

'Then he would come back to Lulu's for coffee and we would play records. We were just regular kids. He was so easy to get along with, and so friendly. Always.'

George Harrison. 'He was quieter, and more of a thinker. In later years he became involved in the spiritual side of life, and became more of a recluse. But I always got along really well with him. I liked him because he was down-to-earth.

'When Brian died, he was particularly comforting to me. He was the youngest in the band and the quietest.'

Ringo Starr. 'What you saw was what you got, with Ringo. A bit of a clown and very much fitting the image of a drummer.'

When Joanne's mother was cleaning up after Joanne's 21st birthday party, she opened a cupboard and out fell Ringo.

'She dusted him off and sent him on his way.'

John Lennon. 'There was something about him that was quite awesome. In a lot of ways I was always in awe of him. He had a wicked wit.

'I would ask John if he wanted a cup of tea and he would just look at me for a moment and turn it into some other meaning. I used to just flee!

'He just had a presence about him. He was laconic. He had this acerbic wit; and an atmosphere that was strong and charismatic. There has been so much written about John by people trying to describe him. I just thought he was an amazing person; such a talented person. His stage persona was powerful, and as a person he was powerful. If I could assess all their IQs I would say John probably had the biggest.


'Brian Epstein handled all these egos incredibly well. He knew them and knew their individual personalities and their different idiosyncrasies. He never bullied. He was warm and close to them, very much the fifth person in the outfit. When they were all together it was a very close-knit relationship.

'I used to look at him sometimes and see him looking at them with such warmth and love for them.'

John Lennon and Paul McCartney would arrive at Epstein's house and squat on the settee writing songs while Joanne typed on the other side of the room. When they'd gone she had to scoop up scraps of scribble-pads, pages of exercise books and hotel stationery they'd kept, and throw the lot into a waste-paper basket.

There were difficult issues that Epstein had to sort out, she remembers; 'he was very good at putting it to them in a way that he would get around them. He would sometimes tell them all the things they didn't have to do, before he would tell them what they had to do.

'When you consider he had never ever managed a band or been involved in anything like this before, he was very instinctive in the way he handled The Beatles. It was an absolute labor of love for him.'

Joanne found Brian Epstein dead in his bedroom. 'He had been troubled and depressed and often lonely.' His homosexuality - at a time when homosexuality was rarely discussed - had caused him anxiety. She believes there was never a relationship between Epstein and Lennon, 'though Brian just adored John.'

The coroner's verdict was accidental death. The cumulative effect of a drug he was taking killed him at 32.

It was years before she could bring herself to talk about the discovery of his body.'Then I agreed to cooperate with Ray Coleman, who wrote a book on Brian. I got a call from him saying he had been researching for two years and all roads led to me. He needed to talk to me. I had never ever done any interviews, but I went over to New York and we spent a week together going over so much stuff. He is a lovely man and he really stuck to his word about correctly quoting what I said.'

While Joanne was surrounded by drug-taking: LSD, 'uppers', 'downers', and cannabis, she took nothing.

Wasn't it hard not to be influenced, when all The Beatles and her boss, Brian Epstein were habitually swallowing them?

'Not for me. It wasn't that I was strong. It was just that I wasn't interested. I saw a lot of people taking drugs; an awful lot of casualties from that era. It kind of intrigued me that people would do that to their bodies.

'I am not sure if they were searching for any inner depth. It was an experimental age. The 50s were years of adjustment after the war. Then the 60s came and a whole new generation had grown up, with a generation gap probably wider than any. It was such an exciting, spirited time to be in London. People had a different, optimistic attitude towards the future. The world had changed so much after the war and these children had been born at the end of it. Their parents had come out of a difficult period of austerity and here were their children with such freedom!

'Kids were taking LSD, I think, perhaps to make them more enlightened, more aware.

'Nobody said to me: "Come on, try it..." People just did what they wanted to do. There was enough freedom for you to do what you wanted to do. There were a lot of young people who didn't take drugs, just as there are today.'

Joanne got the Epstein job after meeting George Harrison and Ringo Starr drinking in a London club. She was 20 and had told them she was about to leave the property company she had been working for. They said: "Phone Brian."

She did. And years later Epstein's mother told her what had clinched it: she was famous bandleader Joe Loss's niece, 'and Brian was enormously impressed. He loved the Joe Loss Orchestra.

One of the scraps of paper she did keep is a draft of the publishing agreement for ‘Yesterday’. Her name appears besides Lennon's, McCartney's and Epstein's as a witness.
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Old Feb 04, 2013, 01:22 AM   #2
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Smile Nice article

Oh, that's a cool article about John, thank's Scruffie

I found the whole interview very interesting, not only the parts about John, but also her descriptions of the other three Beatles (especially Paul )

Anyway, the secretary's quotes concerning John made me smile, because they sound sooo typical, like this one: "'I would ask John if he wanted a cup of tea and he would just look at me for a moment and turn it into some other meaning. I used to just flee!" Such quotes makes John so special to me !

Further, the part about John's relationship with Brian sounds quite realistic too. Poor Brian, I really believe that he often must have felt depressed.

I also like her position towards drugs, just saying she wasn't interested in taking some, instead of blaming the Beatles of having influenced kids of taking drugs or things like that.

Overall, I found it refreshing to read for a change something else than some other ambiguous or scandalous tales about John (or the Beatles).

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Old Feb 04, 2013, 03:35 PM   #3
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Thanks Snoopy! So glad you liked that article. I always find snippets like this interesting. I honestly seek them out because, as you know, some of the modern generation seems to have a bit of a "skewed" perspective of the individual Beatles and what they were really like. Not all of the kids these days, but so many who seem to take that "John Lennon was a &#$@" theory and run with it.

I love to read experiences from people who actually knew/worked with the Beatles that are balanced and even-handed. It's fascinating to see how special John was. He was truly one-of-a-kind and I have read so many accounts from people saying how they felt intimated by him because of his quick and brilliant he was. I believe Marianne Faithfull said that somewhere...need to find it.
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Old Feb 04, 2013, 06:08 PM   #4
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What you said there Scruffie about many feeling intimidated by John got me thinking that that might well be the secret behind why he fell for Yoko. She wasn't intimidated; she wasn't willing to play doormat to the great Beatle. In fact, she had the audacity to say No to him when for years everybody had been bending over backwards to say Yes. The nail, remember. John considered the incident a pivotal event in his life. Most people would've thought "Gee, this is JOHN LENNON! If he wants to change my art work, who am I to complain? I can't possibly refuse JOHN LENNON!" But Yoko could and she backed it up by being smart and witty. How could she not be a refreshing person to be with?

Sorry, that's only a parenthesis. Back to your regularly scheduled programming!
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 07:07 AM   #5
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What you said there Scruffie about many feeling intimidated by John got me thinking that that might well be the secret behind why he fell for Yoko. She wasn't intimidated; she wasn't willing to play doormat to the great Beatle. In fact, she had the audacity to say No to him when for years everybody had been bending over backwards to say Yes. The nail, remember. John considered the incident a pivotal event in his life. Most people would've thought "Gee, this is JOHN LENNON! If he wants to change my art work, who am I to complain? I can't possibly refuse JOHN LENNON!" But Yoko could and she backed it up by being smart and witty. How could she not be a refreshing person to be with?
Thank you hib! I 100% agree with you and thank you for developing an interesting discussion from this. I think John and the rest of The Beatles were used to the same reaction from many of their female fans or encounters. For John especially, it was probably annoying. He needed something that was more of a challenge and spiced things up for him. That was his personality. Yoko wasn't easily won over by his accomplishments, outside of the fact that she probably respected his intelligence and success. But, in my opinion, she saw them both as separate artists and she was competitive in her own way.

That' my opinion. Anyone else?
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 09:52 AM   #6
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I think John and the rest of The Beatles were used to the same reaction from many of their female fans or encounters. For John especially, it was probably annoying. He needed something that was more of a challenge and spiced things up for him. That was his personality. Yoko wasn't easily won over by his accomplishments, outside of the fact that she probably respected his intelligence and success. But, in my opinion, she saw them both as separate artists and she was competitive in her own way.
Yeah, the reaction from many female fans may have been boring for John and he obviously was looking for a more "intellectual" woman, than Cyn was. But I doubt that Yoko would have had any chance in the early 60's. Thus, since John was filled up with drugs by 66, he was vulnerable and emotionally weak, so it was easy for Yoko to "get" to him. Introducing him with hard-drugs like heroin made the rest and John got finally completely under her spell, made a fool of him and tempting him away from the other Beatles. And this all under the pretext of "avantgarde". Just my opinon, of course

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Old Feb 05, 2013, 12:47 PM   #7
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I don't think Yoko would've stood much chance in the early 60s either. At that time John was too busy to build his own career, was too taken with the excitement of The Beatles astonishing success to give room for a rather ordinary looking Japanese woman several years older than himself. But by the mid-60s The Beatles had reached the top and more. I doubt life was what he'd imagined it when they struggled in those German nightclubs.

They were the most famous group in the world but the reality was they'd never worked harder, in the studio or on the road. John's life was work, work, work, with a bit of booze and drugs thrown in to keep going. I doubt very much it was particularly intellectually stimulating! In fact, I often feel, looking at old interviews, that John got his kicks from trying to one-up the journalists covering them. Or other persons he met professionally, like Brian's secretary here. It wasn't just an act but it was more in it than being clever too. I think he needed the outlet.

To blame the drugs on why he hooked up with Yoko is too simple. Okay, maybe he was vulnerable BUT there needed to be something there to get his attention in the first place. It wasn't her looks, we know that, and John himself has never said it was either. Not that Yoko was ugly but Cynthia was much prettier and so were scores of other women he met (and bedded). It must've been her mind (she is sharp as a tack!) and, in my opinion, her refusal to be overwhelmed by JOHN LENNON, the world famous artist. That's the spark that lit the fire because, really, how could Yoko have influenced John in any way, drugs or no drugs, if she first hadn't got his attention? It wasn't as if she was his only choice!
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 01:21 PM   #8
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Thus, since John was filled up with drugs by 66, he was vulnerable and emotionally weak, so it was easy for Yoko to "get" to him. Introducing him with hard-drugs like heroin made the rest and John got finally completely under her spell, made a fool of him and tempting him away from the other Beatles. And this all under the pretext of "avantgarde". Just my opinon, of course

Snoopy
Once again Snoopy never fails in trying to portray Yoko as some evil witch. John feel "under her spell" really Snoopy? What the ****? Can you ever consider being even remotely open-minded when it comes to John's relationship with Yoko or are you forever going to think Yoko was a spineless monster who basically emasculated him?
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 05:56 PM   #9
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snoopy, love is the most powerful of all drugs i learned this and how John and Yoko felt when my love connected
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 06:34 PM   #10
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I can understand Snoopy's perspective, since I believe it is also the popular consensus with regards the beginning stages of John and Yoko's relationship. To be honest, how John got hooked on heroin has always been a little vague to me. And I never really cared. He wasn't the only rock star (or famous/un-famous individual) doing hard drugs at the time.

I agree with Snoopy that John was searching for someone who was his intellectual equal. Not to belittle Cynthia because I do think she was smart and a very nice person, but John seemed to need a challenge and someone who was willing to push envelopes with him. Yoko 'got' John. We can argue until we're blue in the face over this matter but I just don't believe Cynthia ever really 'got' John.
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Old Feb 05, 2013, 06:35 PM   #11
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It must've been her mind (she is sharp as a tack!) and, in my opinion, her refusal to be overwhelmed by JOHN LENNON, the world famous artist. That's the spark that lit the fire because, really, how could Yoko have influenced John in any way, drugs or no drugs, if she first hadn't got his attention? It wasn't as if she was his only choice!
I agree completely with this. I am loving this discussion.
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 06:45 AM   #12
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Once again Snoopy never fails in trying to portray Yoko as some evil witch. John feel "under her spell" really Snoopy? What the ****? Can you ever consider being even remotely open-minded when it comes to John's relationship with Yoko or are you forever going to think Yoko was a spineless monster who basically emasculated him?
Wooow, you're back at last, Fly I feel flattered that thank's me there's a comment from you to read after such a long time

Yeah, I guess, I'm sometimes a bit "narrow-minded" when the discussion is about Yoko. It's not because I don't like her much, but more because I just don't like what John had become through her, at least, in the early years when they met. No doubt that Yoko had also some positive influence on John, though I still think she dominated him too hard, which made him look weaker than stronger. Sorry Fly, I guess, I won't ever change my opinion

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Old Feb 06, 2013, 01:28 PM   #13
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Snoopy, but don't you believe that Yoko played a huge part in John's emotional growth? Prior to Yoko, John was admittedly less inclined to open up so gut-wrenchingly in his art. He seemed to bottle up his inner struggles/pain and I think Yoko helped him get it out. It was also through that second marriage- and not Yoko specifically- that John finally came to the realization of who he needed to be as a father. I believe it never really hit him until Sean was born.

People grow and change. Some start living healthier or start listening to less modern music...and others find people that match who they want to be. I'm thinking mainly the latter & some of the former two for John.
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 02:55 PM   #14
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We can argue until we're blue in the face over this matter but I just don't believe Cynthia ever really 'got' John.
Personally, I think Cynthia got the younger John, the one struggling with difficult home conditions, death of a parent, all that. Both Cyn's mom and Mimi seemed to have provided the material side but been short on affection. I mean, her mom went to live abroad before Cyn was out of her teens. Would a loving mother do that? So they had a lot in common there in their teenage struggles.

I don't think she got what John became as an adult because they were basically so different people with nary an interest in common. And vice versa. I think Yoko got the adult John but not the insecurity and insatiable need to be uncritically loved that he carried with him from his childhood. She's smart but I've never seen her as a particularly warm person. Not that she didn't love John, I don't doubt she did, but, well, I can see how the warmth of May Pang would've attracted him. Yet, I somehow doubt the mental stimulae was there.

So my take is, John grew up because of his experiences with Cynthia, Yoko and May. He realized, as most of us do when we mature, that you can't have everything in one person; there are no ideal mate perfect in every way. Life is a long compromise and he decided that Yoko was the one he rather spend his with. How's that for amateur psychology?
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 03:45 PM   #15
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Wooow, you're back at last, Fly I feel flattered that thank's me there's a comment from you to read after such a long time

Yeah, I guess, I'm sometimes a bit "narrow-minded" when the discussion is about Yoko. It's not because I don't like her much, but more because I just don't like what John had become through her, at least, in the early years when they met. No doubt that Yoko had also some positive influence on John, though I still think she dominated him too hard, which made him look weaker than stronger. Sorry Fly, I guess, I won't ever change my opinion

Snoopy
I agree with you Snoopy.I'm not a big fan of Yoko's.She seems to be a nice person and all,but there's something about her that I just can't put my finger on it.She wasa mother figure to John .After all he did call her "mother".If my husband called me mother I'd punch him in the throat!Their relationship was strange at times.Like the time she told John & Sean to go to Bermuda for 3 weeks?!It would be a cold day in hell if my spouse told me to take the kids away for 3 weeks while they stay home by themselves!Who does that crap?!
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 04:53 PM   #16
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She wasa mother figure to John .After all he did call her "mother".If my husband called me mother I'd punch him in the throat!Their relationship was strange at times.Like the time she told John & Sean to go to Bermuda for 3 weeks?!It would be a cold day in hell if my spouse told me to take the kids away for 3 weeks while they stay home by themselves!Who does that crap?!
I truly appreciate your input Chris but I am going to disagree with some of what you're saying. It's far too much over-simplifying. Just in that other thread that Fly posted we can see that Cynthia was also a "mother figure" (in some regard) to John. I think John either gravitated towards women that shelled out this type of intuitive nature or he brought it out in them. So that can't be helped. Some men seem to need this kind of dynamic. It might seem 'odd' to a lot of us, but I would think that if we were a fly on the wall of most any relationship- let alone those that existed in John and Yoko's time with people as famous as John Lennon- we'd see some pretty strange things.

John was a very strange/unique/odd/different type of person. This we all know from even looking at his drawings and writings at a precious age. So how could any relationship with him not be without some level of oddity? And then you factor in Yoko, who is simply 'out there' on her own galaxy at times. It's just not going to be...typical.

But that doesn't mean that Yoko put John under a spell, that she brought out the worse in him. You can't listen to John Lennon's work post-Yoko and hear a man bringing honesty in art to all kinds of new levels, breaking down all the rules of cathartics in music, and also say Yoko held him back from this or that. It can't work both ways that we praise all the ways John's art grew and became so much his life and then blame Yoko for ruining his art. I'm not saying YOU specifically, Chris, because I'm just going off now on the typical generalizations I'm used to reading/hearing about Yoko.

As far as her sending John and Sean away...has anyone ever considered that had John not spent that amazing quality of time with Sean little Sean wouldn't have had those beautiful last memories of his dad, we might not have had most of Double Fantasy, and John wouldn't have been in that incredibly optimistic frame of mind for some of his last interviews?

Sometimes we pick apart little things that really help shape who John was by the time he died. I look at the way he was at 40 and think, "Damn. This man had and did it all and look at him." The smile on his face in some of those last pictures isn't just forced. I can see it in his eyes. He lived and he didn't regret anything because the mistakes helped redefine what he needed to do to be a better person.
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 05:03 PM   #17
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I truly appreciate your input Chris but I am going to disagree with some of what you're saying. It's far too much over-simplifying. Just in that other thread that Fly posted we can see that Cynthia was also a "mother figure" (in some regard) to John. I think John either gravitated towards women that shelled out this type of intuitive nature or he brought it out in them. So that can't be helped. Some men seem to need this kind of dynamic. It might seem 'odd' to a lot of us, but I would think that if we were a fly on the wall of most any relationship- let alone those that existed in John and Yoko's time with people as famous as John Lennon- we'd see some pretty strange things.

John was a very strange/unique/odd/different type of person. This we all know from even looking at his drawings and writings at a precious age. So how could any relationship with him not be without some level of oddity? And then you factor in Yoko, who is simply 'out there' on her own galaxy at times. It's just not going to be...typical.

But that doesn't mean that Yoko put John under a spell, that she brought out the worse in him. You can't listen to John Lennon's work post-Yoko and hear a man bringing honesty in art to all kinds of new levels, breaking down all the rules of cathartics in music, and also say Yoko held him back from this or that. It can't work both ways that we praise all the ways John's art grew and became so much his life and then blame Yoko for ruining his art. I'm not saying YOU specifically, Chris, because I'm just going off now on the typical generalizations I'm used to reading/hearing about Yoko.

As far as her sending John and Sean away...has anyone ever considered that had John not spent that amazing quality of time with Sean little Sean wouldn't have had those beautiful last memories of his dad, we might not have had most of Double Fantasy, and John wouldn't have been in that incredibly optimistic frame of mind for some of his last interviews?

Sometimes we pick apart little things that really help shape who John was by the time he died. I look at the way he was at 40 and think, "Damn. This man had and did it all and look at him." The smile on his face in some of those last pictures isn't just forced. I can see it in his eyes. He lived and he didn't regret anything because the mistakes helped redefine what he needed to do to be a better person.
I'm not talking about John going away for 3 weeks alone with Sean.That's great for him,but Yoko to stay home?No way!I'm sorry a mother shoud'nt be sending her child a young child at that away for 3 weeks?!That pisses me off!
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 05:23 PM   #18
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I'm not talking about John going away for 3 weeks alone with Sean.That's great for him,but Yoko to stay home?No way!I'm sorry a mother shoud'nt be sending her child a young child at that away for 3 weeks?!That pisses me off!
Yes, Yoko did more than a few things that wouldn't sit well with a lot of other mothers. Not being a mother myself, I will refrain from debating this issue with you because I can't really say I know how deeply it offends. But I can imagine so.

I was thinking just now Chris...Yoko and Vivien Leigh remind me somewhat of one another. I recall reading that VL also "abandoned" her daughter to the child's father's care so she could pursue her acting career. She basically never raised the girl. But when her daughter got older she said something to the effect- I won't quote because I don't have it in front of me- that she understood her mom couldn't be a mother to her and she forgave her. She preferred her being a grandmother to her children and having a friendship with her mom.

I often think of Kyoko and how her and Yoko's bond is now.
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 05:46 PM   #19
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Yes, Yoko did more than a few things that wouldn't sit well with a lot of other mothers. Not being a mother myself, I will refrain from debating this issue with you because I can't really say I know how deeply it offends. But I can imagine so.

I was thinking just now Chris...Yoko and Vivien Leigh remind me somewhat of one another. I recall reading that VL also "abandoned" her daughter to the child's father's care so she could pursue her acting career. She basically never raised the girl. But when her daughter got older she said something to the level- I won't quote because I don't have i in front of me- that she understood her mom couldn't be a mother to her and she forgave her. She preferred her being a grandmother to her children and having a friendship with her mom.

I often think of Kyoko and how her and Yoko's bond is now.
I don't think Yoko ever really wanted to be a mother.She did it to please someone else.I find that to be a little selfish.I'm not a mother either,cause I chose not to.I wouldn't have a child to please my husband cause I'd tell them before we were married so they could make their decision before hand.If my head and heart weren't in it,I wouldn't have a child.Vivien Leigh was lucky her daughter forgave her,but then again her daughter is an actress also so she understands.Alot of other kids wouldn't.
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Old Feb 06, 2013, 07:01 PM   #20
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I think any child, deep down, should want to just have a relationship with their parent. Sometimes you reach an age where you realize, "well, my mom (or dad) wasn't the best parent. But he/she wants to bond with me now and I'd rather just have a good relationship with what we have now than hold on to the past errors."

I mean, you can't totally let go. But in the end, it's love that should overcome all the bads.

I like to think that Julian will get there someday. Maybe he has, but it was tough going for him. I just feel certain that John and him would have been close had he lived, and sometimes you have to live with the good things. Take those and just try not to dwell too much on how badly you were hurt.
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