Out now is John Lennon 1980: The Final Days In The Life Of Beatle John. The book, which is the latest from noted Beatles biographer Ken Womack, serves as the followup to last year's excellent Solid State: The Story Of Abbey Road And The End Of The Beatles.
According to the book's announcement, “For Lennon, 1980 had begun as a ceaseless shopping spree in which he and wife Yoko Ono fell into the doldrums of purchasing blue-chip real estate and indulging their every whim. But for John, that pivotal year would climax in several moments of creative triumph as he rediscovered his artistic self in dramatic fashion, only to be cut down by an assassin’s bullets on Monday, December 8th, 1980, in the prime of a new life that was only just beginning to blossom.”
One of the most exciting aspects of Ken Womack's work is that he's able to transport you back into the equally parts austere and funky Upper West Side that John Lennon lived in during his final years — a community that is drastically different today that when the late-Beatle roamed those streets: “You can't understand the larger story of the music and the person, if you can't — and, it's a very revealing experience for me to try to understand what it felt like to walk around that place, because it is simply incomparable to now. That was my most important understanding.”
A major take away in the book is how New York City was the perfect place for John Lennon to finally settle, whether it was by being around the right type of artists and intellects — or simply hardened New Yorkers too busy living their lives to succumb to bouts of “Beatlemania” in front of a guy who's merely shopping with his kid: “He wanted to be living in the world. And he loved people, I think we can see that, and he loved to chew on ideas. Y'know, thank goodness we have those last interviews, where he just chews an idea, chews on it and enjoys that, and picking it from different sides. And owning his own garbage, right? He was wonderful at that. And, y'know, there were people who were, y'know, privileged to have those kind of conversations with him in a kind of, one-on-one situation. But, I think he lived with that tension of having a very unique kind of fame. Y'know, and today, fame is a lot more amorphous than it was then. I mean, their level of fame, of course, was off the charts compared to so many other people.”
Ken Womack On John Lennon In 1980 :
Ken Womack On Discovering John Lennon’s New York :