John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono were guests on the Dick Cavett show three times in 1971. Their first apearance was taped on Saturday, September 11, 1971 and was John's first interview after the Beatles had disbanded. The subsequent interviews were taped on Friday, September 24, 1971 and Thursday, May 11, 1972.
Viewers, Beatle fans and their counterparts will undoubtedly enjoy the natural conversational flow among Dick Cavett and his guests. John appeared to be in his element, happily chatting with the famous talk show host. It was a good thing John rightfully defends Yoko during this interview and makes it quite plain that she did not break up the Beatles. She has been wrongfully blamed for something that was bound to happen naturally - after all, the individuals who made up the Beatles needed to move individually; grow; develop their own individual styles. The group could not last forever.
Cavett gives John and Yoko equal time. He listens to them attentively; takes them seriously and at no time criticizes anybody or speculates about anybody. It is very easy to forget the interviews are taking place before a studio audience as viewers are easily lulled into the flow of the conversation.
Yoko is very animated during this first interview. She smokes; chats easily with her host about her undergraduate days at Sarah Lawrence and shows a film she made. John and Cavett are actually funny, sharing some humorous observations about clothing and coiffure.
Be sure to get this dvd collection. It is funny; interesting; serious; thought provoking and memorable. This is something for everybody and not just Beatle fans, Yokophiles and Lennonophiles. The bonus dvd will certainly bring many smiles to many faces.
on February 16, 2006
This DVD is a welcome addition to any film library as the two discs, not only have historical value in capturing John's legal problems and government persecution, but show how charming, witty, and passionate John was. After normal opening jitters for Lennon and Cavett, they settle down into a great and animated conversation. Yoko comes off quite well, hardly the evil woman Beattle fans at the time made her out to be. It is quite clear that John and Yoko were devoted to each other. A couple of tunes are played on second disc and excerpts are also shown from some of John and Yoko's films. It was John's first interview after the Beatles broke up and was insightful and entertaining. There are also interviews with Stan Freeberg and Shirley MaClaine, among others, that are lively and fun as well.
With his plaid jackets, striped shirts, and longish hair that sort of curled at the collar, Dick Cavett was the epitome of an early 1970's man: influenced somewhat by the hippie culture of the previous decade, but still buttoned-down, respectable enough to be welcomed into five million homes each night. Back then, that was a wimpy figure for a late night talk show in a three network universe, and Cavett's show was always on the verge of cancellation. His guests were certainly more diverse than the showbiz figures who occupied the couch on the more successful competition, NBC's "The Tonight Show," but Cavett was less personable, less warm, and not as sharp as Johnny Carson, despite his reputation as the most intellectual of the talk show hosts. That reputation is apparently what attracted John Lennon and Yoko Ono who first appeared as the sole guests on an episode that aired September 11, 1971.
Known as a wit himself, Lennon might just as well have been a bubble-brained starlet promoting her big dramatic breakthrough in an upcoming episode of "Adam 12." Neither he nor Ono have a hell of a lot to say that's bright or interesting, and they came unprepared to perform a song from either the "Imagine" or "Fly" albums, both of which had just been released. But they were clearly pioneers since they did perform via film clips. Neither called Lennon's performance of "Imagine" or Ono's warbling of "Mrs. Lennon" a "music video," but that's what they would be called in less than a decade when similar clips began to turn up on "The Midnight Special" even before the debut of MTV.
In an interview taped for inclusion in the DVD package, Cavett claims they were on a roll that night, so ABC kept its cameras running after the 90 minute show was supposed to end, and this additional footage was televised on September 24. Again, neither Lennon nor Ono had a lot to say and the questions from the audience weren't terribly insightful either.
"How do you write your songs?"
"What music do you listen to?"
It is Stan Freberg, the legendary satirist who appeared live in the studio that night, who steals the show with an amusing anecdote of how he also appeared with the Lennons on "The David Frost Show." The producers insisted that Freberg sit in the audience once John and Yoko appeared because they believed the Lennons might fear becoming a target of his humor. Instead, Lennon inquired what had happened to Freberg. "I'm in the audience," Freberg said, then repeated the explanation that the producers gave him as to why he shouldn't take offense. "In England, it's a tremendous honor to sit in the audience."
Lennon's excuse for not performing was that he had no band to perform with, but he promised to return at a later date. He kept the promise on May 3, 1972, but by then a live performance by John and Yoko was hardly a coup. Several months earlier, they had spent a full week as co-hosts on "The Mike Douglas Show" where they performed several numbers and Lennon even dueted with Chuck Berry. Nonetheless, the May 11 show found Lennon impassionately pleading with Yoko's former husband to let her see her daughter, Kyoko. He also discussed the government's efforts to deport him in relation to a 1968 marijuana bust in England. But Lennon believed he was actually being targeted for promoting peace. It was then that a previously silent Shirley Maclaine piped up to praise Lennon for doing more to promote "peace and love" than anyone else in the arts. Lennon muttered a brusque "That's very nice. Thank you," while barely looking at the actress, then hurriedly returned to the subject at hand. It was a rather awkward moment. I suspect Maclaine was attempting to ingratiate herself with Lennon, perhaps hoping his "hipness" would rub off on her.
As for the live performances, Lennon's "Woman is the Nigger of the World" was preceded by his rambling defense of the use of such an inflammatory word, and by an "insert," taped later, in which Cavett also defended the song which had almost been deleted entirely until Cavett agreed to the disclaimer which inspired the very kind of complaints that ABC feared the song would when making the decision. Yoko sang, too, introducing "We're All Water" with a plug for "our new album, "Some Time In New York City," which bombed that summer.
These shows are interesting mainly because they show John and Yoko in a more accurate light. Yeah, they promoted peace, but more than that they promoted themselves. Their plugs were so shameless that when George Harrison appeared with Cavett a few weeks later, he couldn't resist starting off his chat with a plug for John and Yoko's upcoming Christmas record since it was recorded after their appearance, and, therefore, they couldn't promote it at that time.
What must Dick Cavett think of these shows being released on DVD? Most of the episodes of "The Dick Cavett Show" being released on DVD are shows that feature, as the title of another disc bears out, "Rock Icons." It's as though he's Dick Clark or Wolfman Jack, and Cavett admits that he doesn't even like rock and roll. In the interview included as a bonus feature, Cavett remembers when he first heard of the Beatles and thinking they were just the latest fad, sure to disappear in a year or two. Only later, after reading a lengthy article by classical composer Leonard Bernstein in which he praised the Beatles did Cavett "not just think of them as something like Elvis who would probably just last a year or two, too." Of course, Bernstein had praised Elvis, too, and in the `80s would embarrass himself when receiving a Grammy lifetime achievement award and kept referring to Tina Turner, then at the peak of her career, in his acceptance speech. He was determined, it seems, to be hip.
Cavett doesn't seem to share Bernstein's insecurities, and might even be a bit embarrassed that he has somehow become associated with rock and roll because he happened to feature several big names from that world on his show at a time when most television talk shows, and most television period, shunned the genuine article, preferring "pop" artists like Helen Reddy or, if they were really hip, the Bee Gees. Cavett's show acknowledged the so-called "youth culture" of the late `60s and early `70s at a time when it was otherwise represented only by "The Mod Squad" and "The Partridge Family."
Brian W. Fairbanks
on November 9, 2005
First the bad: Lennon's band, Elephant's Memory, should be forgotten. The songs he wrote for them were some of the worst junk he ever wrote. Yoko's avant garde films ("Fly" is nothing but a fly walking on a woman's body. "Erection" is a stop-action film that shows the building of a new hotel.) are pretentious, tedious, badly filmed garbage in the Andy Warhol "let's film a guy sleeping for eight hours" mode. Yoko had no talent, artistic, musical, poetic, or otherwise and would have been forgotten if she didn't snag John Lennon. Now the good: John was intelligent, quick-witted, charming, funny, and articulate. This was an intelligent, creative man who is interesting to watch and listen to in these interviews. Yoko comes across quite well (except for her artsy crap). Rather than being the evil dragon lady she is usually portrayed as, she comes across as shy, gentle, caring, ultra-feminine, almost fragile. She is right on the money when explaining the break-up of the Beatles (it is difficult for four creative artists to get along when each is so good). Her explanation is probably the best that I have heard. Dick Cavett does a good job of playing along with John and making him feel comfortable (John admits that he is nervous at the beginning). Looking at these interviews after thirty years, it is clear that John was a major force and personality. He is compelling and entertaining. Well worth a watch for Lennon fans.
on July 13, 2009
it's really all there, the reality of a legend........how could it be recommended less than 5 stars? should be 100! j.l. did not make too many t.v. interview appearances. in fact, very few (after he left the beatles). it's not like the show is everything you'd ever wanted j. to say or sing but it's a document in time. it's going to be around forever because these live moments of candor, post-beatles, are few and far between. also, it shows j. and y. in communication, with words and with out words.
if you can find the mike douglas show tapes (they are only on vhs) of j.& y.'s week on there, get it and watch it. the best interview, however, is the late night host tom snyder's interview. they have both passed on, but the dvd release includes (in the one i have) the replay of the (1975?) interview plus tom's reactions to the night of dec.8th, plus footage.
these are gems to be cherished. see j.l., one of the greatest artists of all time, on view in conversation..........