Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Toot and A Snore (and 2 TV Commercials)

An important part of the mythos of John Lennon is the 18-month "Lost Weekend" he spent in Los Angeles after separating from Yoko Ono. The official account is that Lennon drank, got high, and screwed around with May Pang while getting nothing done. While the drinking, drugging, and screwing are certainly true, Lennon actually got a ton done during that Lost Weekend.

Sure, he was thrown out of the Troubador when he and Harry Nilsson drunkenly heckled the Smothers Brothers (with Lennon wearing a tampon on his forehead), but during that 18 months, Lennon also:

  • Produced the Nilsson album Pussy Cats,

  • Recorded a bunch of oldies with producer Phil Spector (as part of a settlement of a lawsuit brought by Morris Levy from Roullette Records, who claimed Lennon stole parts of "Come Together" from Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me" -- but agreed to drop the suit if Lennon recorded three songs Levy's publishing company owned),

  • Spent time with his song Julian (whose grade-school drawing reportedly inspired the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"), whom he hadn't seen for years,

  • Wrote and Recorded the Walls and Bridges album (which featured Julian drumming on one song),

  • Recorded his single to hit #1 in his lifetime (not counting the dozens of Beatle singles), "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" (with Elton John on piano and vocals),

  • Performed three songs with Elton John live at Madison Square Garden,

  • Co-wrote and sang on David Bowie's song "Fame,"

  • Wrote, sang and played on Ringo's "Goodnight Vienna,"

  • Hosted a weekly jam session at a rented house in Santa Monica (almost everyone who participated in these jam sessions is now in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame),

  • Fought back against attempts by J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon to have him deported,

  • Reunited with Paul McCartney in the studio for a jam session that also included Stevie Wonder, Bobby Keys, and Jesse Ed Davis (widely bootlegged under the title A Toot and A Snore in '74,

  • Recorded a radio commercial for Tower Records,

  • Appeared on the Grammy Awards and made bad jokes with Paul Simon (when Art Garfunkle accepted the award for Olivia Newton John, who won Record of the Year, the first thing Simon said was "I thought I told you to wait in the car"),

  • And made these two TV commercials (links one and two for Gmail subscribers):

Not bad for a "lost weekend."

PS: Ringo, the aliens want their cheap special effects back.


Anonymous said...

It was a Kotex tampon at the Troubador... now where's the advert for that?!

Late Blooming Mom said...

Did I ever tell you I met May Pang? When he was temporarily separated from Yoko? She told me this great story about how Lennon was filming IMAGINE at the St. Regis Hotel in NY and found out Fred Astaire was staying there and sent her to knock on his door to find out if he wanted to be in the movie. He was excited and awed that Lennon wanted to meet him and yes, you can find him in a cameo in the movie, I think in a party scene.

Alex said...

Holly, I bow down to your coolness (and the fact that you have street cred in the '30s, '40s, '60s & '70s)! :)