Twenty-five years after his death is still too soon for Yoko Ono to write about life with her famous husband. "I could not open that part of my heart while it's still shaking," she writes in her introduction to Memories of John Lennon
, and so the long-awaited inside story of one of the last century's great romances remains untold. Instead, Ono solicited material from over 70 of Lennon's friends, contemporaries, and admirers, and is marking that terrible anniversary with a collection of their reminiscences. (Notably absent are Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Lennon's first wife, Cynthia, who just wrote her own book on their decade together.)
As might be expected, there is a fair amount of hero-worship in these pages--Paul Reiser and Nils Lofgren both call the Beatle a "friend I never met," and B-52s singer Kate Pierson admits to considering him "practically a mythological figure." Some, too, choose to memorialize him in poem, art, or song, none of which particularly resonate. But the book is not without its share of engaging moments, most of which come from those who actually spent time with Lennon. Family confidant Elliot Mintz writes of the devoted husband, "how he used to brush [Yoko's] hair...or when we'd be going out to a restaurant and she would put her coat on and he would adjust her collar so that it would look pretty and frame her face." Double Fantasy
drummer Andy Newmark remembers the spirited musician, exhorting him to simplify his fills and just "play like Ringo." Donovan recalls days with the Maharishi in Rishikesh, teaching Lennon to finger-pick his guitar and hearing "Julia" and "Dear Prudence" as they were composed. Others cover the political activist, compassionate friend, and loving father. Memories of John Lennon
can hardly be called a balanced portrait of the man, but neither is it all dull hagiography. Worth a look, though it may not be essential reading. --Benjamin Lukoff
From Publishers Weekly
Newcomers to the Lennon legend might find some of the reminiscences and artwork in this compendium interesting and novel, but those alive in Lennon's time will recognize many of the quotes, especially the ones from Lennon's most famous friends, like Mick Jagger and Elton John. (They were culled from other books previously published about Lennon and/or the Beatles.) The most interesting essay—apart from Yoko's own charmingly loopy introduction—may be from the least famous person in the book: Cynthia O'Neal, Lennon's neighbor at the Manhattan landmark apartment building, the Dakota. She recounts what it was like the day the singer was shot in their entryway, and how she used to peer into his apartment while he was having breakfast with his family. The most important moments, clearly, were also the most mundane. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.