Friday, December 11, 2009

Starting Over

Up on the tenth floor of The Record Plant, John, Yoko and producer Jack Douglas were putting a few finishing touches on “Walking on Thin Ice,” a new Yoko single, They’d been in the studio for over five hours, since 4:30, and the trio was getting tired.

Earlier, David Geffen had stopped by the studio to bring everyone the good news. Waving them into the control room, Geffen said with glee, “Well, congratulations, two weeks out and your album is gold and quickly headed to platinum.” John was relieved. He’d been nervous that, after a five year layoff, no one would buy a new album of his and Yoko’s. Now, Double Fantasy was a certified hit. Geffen was relieved as well. As President of the new Geffen Records, he wasn’t sure John Lennon would sell in 1980. Let alone an album that was half John, half Yoko. It’s not like Yoko records had ever sold, or ever been released without an accompanying torrent of scorn.

Geffen also gave a listen to the day’s work. Impressed, he offered to take out ads promoting it. John was elated. “Fantastic, Mother,” he said to Yoko, “you’re getting ads!” John jumped up and down, clapping his hands like a spastic child. “I’m telling you, the ‘80’s are gonna be great.” Then, dropping his voice into a deep serious tone, “Brothers and sisters, everything will be fine if we all pull together.” John glanced again at the Soho News on the chair next to him. Inside was an article, “Yoko Only,” that praised Ono the artist. “Even the critics love you now, Mother.”

At 10:00, as the session was winding down, John talked giddily about writing a new song for Ringo, and getting some of the extra tracks from August out as a second John and Yoko record. As “Walking on Thin Ice” played over and over again in the background, John and Yoko got up to leave.

“I’m famished. Perhaps a stopover at the Stage Deli before we get home. Are you ready Jack?” asked John. Douglas, who lived two blocks from the Lennons’ Dakota apartments, always got a ride back with them at the end of a hard day’s work.

“Can’t do it John,” Douglas said slowly, running his hand through his hair and shaking the cobwebs out of his head. “I have another session to do.”

“Really?” John turned to Ono, her coat already on to ward off the December weather. “Yoko, love, mind if I stay with Jack for a few hours more?”

“That’s fine John. I’ll see you later.” She leaned over to permit John a peck on her cheek and left.

“So, let’s get down to work, Jack,” proclaimed John arms outstretched, hands intertwined, knuckles cracking. “First things first. What should we get to eat?”



***********************************************************************************


At 10:00, as the session was winding down. John talked giddily about writing a new song for Ringo, and getting some of the extra tracks from August out as a second John and Yoko record. As “Walking on Thin Ice” played over and over again in the background, John and Yoko got up to leave.

“I’m famished. Perhaps a stop over at the Stage Deli before we get home. Are you ready Jack?” asked John. Douglas, who lived two blocks from the Lennons’ Dakota apartments, always got a ride back with them at the end of a hard day’s work.

“Can’t do it John,” Douglas said slowly, running his hand through his hair and shaking the cobwebs out of his head. “I have another session to do.”

“Too bad. Walk us to the elevators, then.”

As they strolled, John talked about mastering Yoko’s song the next day, December 9. The doors slid open and, before entering, John said “See you tomorrow morning, bright and early.” With a cheerful smile, and a silly wave, they were gone.

In the limo home, John changed his mind about stopping for dinner and, suddenly completely exhausted, wanted to get home to bed. The car pulled up in front of the 72nd Street entrance to their building. Yoko got out first. As usual, there was a small coterie of fans hoping for a glimpse of Beatle John. A short, dumpy man, behind rose tinted glasses, said hello to Yoko. John got out and, upon hearing someone speak to his wife, turned to face the greeter.

“Oh, hello, again. Still here?” John had signed a copy of Double Fantasy for this same person earlier in the day. Mark Chapman mumbled a muffled “hi” in return. He couldn’t believe that John Lennon, John Lennon! had not forgotten him. John and Yoko entered the building.


John hailed the night man as they walked past the office. “Bon soir, Jay. How are you tonight?”

The hefty bearded Jay smiled as the couple made their way to the elevators.It was the best part of being the night desk man, exchanging pleasantries with John Lennon.

Outside, Mark Chapman turned and headed back to his lonely room at the Sheraton Centre, a twenty block walk.


*********************************************************************************

In the limo home, John changed his mind about stopping at the Stage Deli and, suddenly completely exhausted, wanted to get home to bed. The couple talked about Jack Douglas, how they’d met him, way back in 1971 when he was the remix engineer for Imagine and how Jack had always understood Yoko’s work. John went on about the morning photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz and how happy he’d been with the Polaroids she’d shown him. It was a very good day.


The car pulled up in front of the 72nd Street entrance to the Dakota. Yoko got out first. As usual, there was a small coterie of fans hoping for a glimpse of Beatle John. A short, dumpy man, behind rose tinted glasses, said hello to Yoko. John got out and, hearing someone speak to his wife, turned to face the greeter.

“Oh, hello, again. Still here?” John had signed a copy of Double Fantasy for this same person earlier in the day. Mark Chapman mumbled a muffled “hi” in return. He couldn’t believe that John Lennon, John Lennon! had not forgotten him.

As John and Yoko headed toward the building, Chapman snapped out of his trance, remembering why he’d come to New York, his mission. Stepping towards the arched carriageway, Chapman pulled a snub nose .38 from his pocket and, with no warning, shakily opened fire on the couple. Yoko was hit on the shoulder and knocked to the ground.

“What the fuck?” screamed John as he grabbed his right arm, ablaze with pain. He’d been shot as well.

Two blasts were fired before Chapman was wrestled to the pavement by Jose the doorman. John, blood washing over the sleeve of his leather jacket kneeled over Yoko, who was crying in agony, “No No No!” Her shrieks blended with the wailing sirens of the police cars descending on the scene.

“Hang on love, you’ll be fine,” John whispered as he held Yoko, both of the trembling.


*******************************************************************************

As John and Yoko headed toward the building, Chapman snapped out of his trance, remembering why he’d come to New York, his mission. Stepping towards the arched carriageway, Chapman pulled a snub nose .38 from his pocket and assumed a combat position. Knees bent, one hand holding the gun, the other supporting his wrist, Chapman called out calmly.

“Mr. Lennon?”



On December 8, 1980, John Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman.

1 comment:

  1. Very good stuff Jeff. I didn't see an email address for you here but you can send me an email, with you name is in the subject field at ProduceRTD@aol.com. Let me know if you are going to check out that show tonight. I know you said you weren't sure if you would be able to make it or not. Happy Holidays!

    ReplyDelete