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All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono Paperback – December 8, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

John Lennon could be angry, as he is in Lennon Remembers: The Full Rolling Stone Interviews from 1970, and nasty, as proven by Albert Goldman's brilliant, scathing The Lives of John Lennon.

But he could also be charming, smart, and extraordinarily witty, as he is in his last interview, published in book form as All We Are Saying. Co-interviewee Yoko Ono is charm-free but valuable, because she sparks the conversation and brings up fascinating stuff that Lennon wished she hadn't, like their mad plots to kidnap her daughter from her ex-husband. As interviewer David Sheff's tape rolls, John and Yoko's anecdotes flow effortlessly: the joys of making their 1980 comeback album, Double Fantasy; the mortifying horrors of John's "lost weekend" in L.A. with Harry Nilsson; John's interestingly twisted family life; John and Yoko and Paul's last get-together, watching Saturday Night Live the night producer Lorne Michaels offered the Beatles $3,200 to reunite on the show (they almost got in a cab and did it!).

Best of all is Lennon's song-by-song account of who wrote which famous tunes and where they came from. "Strawberry Fields" contains an entire childhood memoir, and the production reflects Paul's alleged "sabotage" of Lennon's work. "Please Please Me" was based on a Roy Orbison melody and Bing Crosby's punning song title "Please (Lend an Ear to My Pleas)." The "element'ry penguins" in "I Am the Walrus" refer to idiots like Allen Ginsberg who chant "Hare Krishna" worshipfully. "Hey Jude" was Paul's song comforting John's son Julian when John left his family for Yoko, and Paul's unconscious, reluctant farewell to his writing partner ("go out and get her").

Lennon had been publicly silent and artistically dormant for five years before these interviews, and he was just bursting with the exhilaration of the rebirth of his imagination days before his death. Reading this book is like sharing a day in the life of a very happy man. --Tim Appelo

From Booklist

As the song goes, it was 20 years ago today . . . when John Lennon sat down in his Dakota home with wife, Yoko, for a Playboy interview. It was also just a few months before Lennon was killed. Lennon and Ono touched on many different subjects, including Lennon's disappearance from the public arena for five years to be a househusband; the release of the couple's then-new album, Double Fantasy; and more dishy subjects like the Beatles' breakup and John's relationship with Yoko. The interview was a newsmaker at the time, and in retrospect, it is a crucial piece of Beatle history. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (December 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312254644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312254643
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #658,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Cactus Ed on May 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
Actually I have the original version of this book, The Playboy Interviews, but since I'm an avid collector of "all things Lennon" I'll probably buy this newer version as well. But man! What a great read this book is! I learned so much about John here in his own words. Do people remember when he was shot, and the current issue of Playboy had just come out with the John & Yoko interview? Man, I clutched that thing like a bible in those sad sad days of December 1980. That interview turned out to be just a portion of the whole interview, and now that is published in this book. A cautionary note: reading this book can re-awaken your love and feelings for John and the Beatles, and this can lead to some pretty serious melancholia. Twenty-plus years later! I still ponder the what-ifs of it all, if John had been allowed to live - for instance, how would that Beatles Anthology thing on Tee Vee had been with a living John? And would there have ever been a Beatles reunion? ( I doubt it.) Not to mention how the politics of the Reagan-80s if John had been there to help out! Anyway, buy this book. It is still very valid and even timeless in its depth and scope.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By kennedy19 on January 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
John Lennon gave two interviews in particular that were extraordinary for their length, depth, and honesty. One was his famous "Lennon Remembers" interviews with Rolling Stone in 1970, and the other was this one, shortly before his death in 1980. Lennon was a complex man, and it is interesting to compare his attitudes among the two milestone interviews. Yet this one (conducted over several days) stands alone for its insights into Lennon's personal life, his relationship with Yoko, his philosophising, and his song-by-song discussion of his work, both with the Beatles and afterwards. It offers an unprecedented glimpse into his mindset and outlook at the time of his death, filled with the usual engaging Lennon wit and wisdom. Lennon comes across not just as a vital source of information about his own life and career but as an interesting conversationalist, period. We are also treated to Sheff's brief glimpses of Lennon and Ono at work on their "Double Fantasy" album. This book is an important document for anyone interested in the man or his music.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christine Todd on April 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
Drew Barrymore, who is not someone I'd particularly credit with a great deal of intelligence, said something a few months ago in Rolling Stone that I think is close to profound. She said that if you have a question for the universe, put it out there and a John Lennon song will answer you back. As we all know, this is true, and if you ever need reminding, here's the book that will do it. It's the real insider's scoop - during these interviews you get the feeling that Lennon was really trying to set the record straight on quite a few things: and not by making nice all the time, either. Just by being frank and honest and egoless about his life.
Here is a man who went through a lot of heartbreak and withstood it. Not only did he survive - he survived it without a lot of baggage. He came out the other end happy, and these interviews let you in on how he did it. Inevitably sad, since we know what's about to hit him, this book is ultimately very inspiring.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BeatleBangs1964 VINE VOICE on November 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
John Lennon and wife Yoko Ono give an excellent interview by pulling out all stops. Sheff's interview in "Playboy" with the pair is a vital oral history about the former Beatle's life and his insight on each Beatle song. Sheff takes readers on a Magical Mystery Tour through the recording studio; the Dakota and in and around the neighborhood. The interview is candid and direct; readers are given a clear look of and at John and Yoko.

John is shown, warts and all in real, living color. He is not glamorized nor vilified; he is presented as the man that he was. John Lennon was many things to many people; Sixties icon; musician extraordinaire; artist; spouse; father; author; actor; joker; interviewee; "militant pacifist," an oxymoronic term. John was a very complex man and this Rubik's cube of a book puts the pieces together in such a way that readers can readily assemble their image of John Lennon.

John makes no bones abut the Beatles being part of his past; he appears to want to move further down the Long & Winding Road without further Hard Day's Nights in re his Beatle history. It was also interesting to learn what groups and artists John liked and how he felt they influenced him.

Hats off to Sheff for introducing readers to each person in the interview. If there is one literary pitfall to avoid, it is never, repeat, never spring characters or real people onto readers without introducing them. That weakens a work and Sheff is quite adept at dodging this trap.

John appeared to be moving at a quicker pace in this interview; whereas Sheff wanted to discuss the Beatles more in depth, John gave one word answers to Beatle related questions and seemed eager to discuss his 1980 album, "Double Fantasy" as well as works he was planning after that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By K. Bentley on March 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Right before his death in 1980, John Lennon gave his most open and candid interviews. In 1980, Lennon was out of the public limelight for 5 years, was happily married, had a son, and his comeback album Double Fantasy was selling well. Previous interviews were usually marred by his overhwelming sense of anger, cynicusm anbd political activism that almost got him deported in the early 70s. With that behind him, Lennon was ready to move forward with life, and candidly talked about his troubled youth, his inspiration from rock and roll, his time with the Beatles, his solo career, Yoko, and his plans for the future. You read htis and think "oh how nice, he has finally found himself, and he's finally happy," but then unfortunately you feel sad at the same time, considering the events that happened right after these interviews. It's very sad and a letdown because he was so optimistic with quotes like "and I'll continue to do what I'm doing until I'm dead which hopefully won't be for a very long time."

Even though his bliss was tragically cut short, these interviews with John Lennon serve as a good epitaph of his life, and even serve him better than most of his uneven solo career.
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