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Memories of John Lennon Hardcover – November 29, 2005

3.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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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.)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: It Books (November 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060594551
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060594558
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,448,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. A Varkentine on June 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Memories Of John Lennon, "edited" and introduced by Yoko Ono. I put that word in quotes because I'm skeptical that this book was edited at all.

A real editor might have reminded contributor and onetime activist Tariq Ali that "Revolution" was a single, not an album.

Ali also writes of the day Lennon died:

"I think the tribute [John] would have loved was the spontaneous grief in Moscow as kids rushed to the Lenin hills and sang "Back in the U.S.S.R."

Yes, if I were John Lennon, I'd love it if people grieved for me by singing a Paul McCartney song, too.

Ali shares pride-of-place for ignorance with of all people, Ray Charles, who makes a similar mistake about "Yesterday."

The book as a whole overflows with gushing, largely unearned sentiment. If it was just another one of those things it would be bad enough but it's also absolute psychic head for Yoko.

Person after person: Yoko was the love of John's life; as an artist, Yoko was 30 years ahead of her time; the only possible reason one can be critical of Yoko is if one is racist or sexist or probably both.

I'm not saying some of it isn't true. I'm not one of those people who thinks Yoko was the devil (it's just that she couldn't sing). I'm saying it's unseemly for someone to include all that stuff about themselves in a book.

When they're not scubbing clean The Perfect Story of John and Yoko, the contributors are rewriting their own personal history as well. Or staking their claims to their own part of The Lennon Story.

Jann Wenner tells (again) the story of putting Lennon on the cover of the first Rolling Stone and conducting his lengthy interview with John.
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Format: Hardcover
"Memories of John Lennon" should have been a new, exciting narrative of John Lennon's life with Yoko Ono -- chocked full of new insights and details, BUT IT'S NOT. There is not one scrap of biographical information in this book.

Instead, the book is bland collection of generic praise for Lennon from various musicians and other celebrities (Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are glaringly absent). The majority of the entries, many from celebrities such as Bono and Carly Simon, follow a predictable pattern in which the contributor notes Lennon's sharp wit, remembers a small personal kindness and sadly suggests that we could sure use a man like him today. Some have never even met the man, like Nils Lofgren. Some of the recollections have been cut-and-pasted from old interviews, like Elton John's, giving the book a trashy, opportunistic feel. I was dismayed to see Elliot Mintz was included in this book because of his cruel criticism of May Pang - or perhaps that's why he IS included.

A lot of the praise for Lennon is devoted his solo hit "Imagine." I agree that "Imagine" was a great song, but Lennon wrote others, didn't he? I assume that Beatles' masterpieces like "A Day in the Life," "I Am the Walrus," "Nowhere Man" and others were deemed off-limits for some reason.

I admit that I am a Lennon memorabilia collector and I put this book on my wish list before it was even published. Let me give some advice to other collectors out there... This one isn't worth the money -- wait for it to land in the inevitable bargain bin!
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this book with happy anticipation. It seemed like a good idea: a collection of essays by different people, remembering John, published 25 years after his untimely death. I had seen a similar collection of statements many years ago, soon after John died, and that one was moving. But I overlooked one important thing: this book was edited by Yoko Ono.

Why the 2 star rating? The book itself is good quality and has a few nice pictures. And some of the essays are nice such as the ones by Mick Jagger and Elliot Mintz. However too much of the material is of poor quality for different reasons.

The book smacks of one of Yoko's popularist art projects. It appears as if she invited a bunch of people, some who never met John and who probably know little about him, to send in an essay so they can get their name in print. An essay by Alicia Keyes is nice, but she didn't know the man. How could she have a memory of John? As a result, several essays repeat the same unimaginative theme: we liked John because he wrote Imagine. We never met him but we like the song because he sang about brotherhood and peace.

Other essays are so short as to be meaningless. Some contributors sent in amateur drawings or poetry. This may be fine for an elementary school project where a teacher tells her 7 year old students "write a poem or do a drawing about John Lennon" but, to me, this is not worthy of a hardcovered book obstensibly published to honor John Lennon.

Another problem with this book is the same problem mentioned by critics of the Lennon Broadway show: the Yoko-fication of the Lennon legacy.
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