Today John and Yoko were again filmed by a BBC crew going about their daily routine, such as it was. In the morning John ate in bed and got on the horn to Toronto, where he was planning a lithograph signing that never came to pass. In the afternoon they went to Apple and gave a series of interviews, including the rather confrontational one that starts about a minute into this clip:

“You’re a fake,” says New York Times reporter Gloria Emerson. John shouts back,

You want nice middle-class gestures for peace and intellectual manifestos written by a lot of half-witted intellectuals, and nobody reads them. That’s the trouble with the peace movement.

The whole thing is deeply unpleasant; I can’t watch more than about 10 seconds at a time. There are few less productive human activities than arguing about peace.

In the evening, John and Yoko made an album. Back in November John had said they were planning a fourth album of experimental music: “One side is laughing,” he said, “the other is whispering.” Sure enough, tonight they commandeered a studio at Abbey Road and recorded pieces they called “Item 1” and “Item 2.”

According to Peter Doggett’s The Art and Music of John Lennon,

For “Item 1,” Lennon arranged the participants [including Geoff Emerick, Mal Evans, and other members of the entourage] in a circle. They donned red clowns’ noses and then – with what sounded like a little herbal stimulation – proceeded to laugh hysterically, while EMI’s engineers dutifully captured the results on tape. Tracks of percussion and vocal chanting were added, before Lennon prepared a rough mix while Yoko passed sushi around to the performers. “Item 2” required the assembled company to whisper into each other’s ears – a process that inevitably led to a second outbreak of hysteria.

It is this session that is captured at the very beginning of the video clip above. The results were never released, perhaps because at this point Allen Klein was starting to clamp down on superfluous expenses, of which mastering and manufacturing self-indulgent “art” albums was surely one.

Meanwhile:

  • George was in Sheffield with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends.
  • Ringo had also been at Abbey Road earlier in the day, cutting a version of Fats Waller’s “Blue Turning Grey over You” for the Sentimental Journey album. His arrangement of this classic ballad of heartache is oddly jaunty and to be honest, really rather dreadful. Here’s Louis Armstrong instead:

That leaves only Paul, whose current state was described this way in Bob Spitz’s The Beatles:

There was a line of artists vying for his production skills. He listened to their tapes, even met with Mary Hopkin and Badfinger to discuss other projects. But nothing seemed to capture his immediate interest. He couldn’t even get himself out of bed in the morning. “Then, if I did get up, I had a drink,” he recalled. “Straight out of bed….”

He spent hours, days, weeks trying to make sense of the [Beatles] breakup, lashing out at anyone who attempted to draw him out of the funk. When he could motivate himself at all, instead of writing music, he spent long hours outside “just planting trees” or helping Linda renovate the old farmhouse.

Sad as that might sound, it’s intriguing to think about this dark, drunk, angry version of Paul, and to imagine the music he might have made had he funneled all that angst into his art. Instead we eventually ended up with McCartney, which is a pretty good album of catchy pop music. But that’s the difference between Paul and John, isn’t it? Paul might have been out there on the Scottish moors, whiskey bottle in hand, bellowing “The dream is over!” at an audience of startled sheep. But he wasn’t going to put it on a record.

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