Sunday, December 8, 2013
y poem Flip Side of the Ballad of John and Yoko was written the day John Lennon was shot but today is the 33rd anniversary of that tragic event. Below is an excerpt from my forthcoming autobiography, ‘Die Bibel: The Authoritative History of Michael John O’Leary, Earl of Seacliff’, which describes the circumstances around the writing of the poem: I wrote ‘off the cuff’ the moment I heard the news that Mark Chapman had murdered John Lennon in New York City: Que pasa New York? Que pasa New York? Hey, Hey! It was a great shock to me and many of my generation all around the world. That night I went to the Captain Cook and met Peter Olds and we had a wake for John in remembrance for all he had done for us over the years. It is interesting that Bob Dylan, not noted for his eulogizing other artists of his generation, has written a song, ‘Roll on John’, in praise of Lennon for his 2012 album Tempest – everyone copies me eventually! Flip Side of the Ballad of John and Yoko 6pm News, Tuesday, Ninth of December, 1980 “We have just heard from New York Ex-Beatle John Lennon was shot today . . . !!!!!!” i There I was sitting on a sofa In one of the southernmost cities of the world Listening to the radio whilst thinking about cooking tea Well, how can you be honest about how you feel? I’d just turned the station over To get the “real” news of the world When I heard the words written above: well fuck me! What else can you do but swear at a time like this I am thinking about my mother, his mother Two of the responsible for bringing us into the world And now John, you’re gone! There’s only me Yoko and me, and the rest of humanity together in grief and love Yoko’s in a black scumbag, I left the sofa Wandered aimlessly around the room the day you left the world Your death is a climax of events forcing mortality on me Everybody’s talkin’ ‘bout Pol Pot, Nazism, Socialism, I.R.A. and junkies Give me a chance, brother You have helped me understand this world Now you’re dead, am I enslaved or freeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!! Fuck the revolution, we have bred another generation ii When it all began, I was just another Beatle fan. A teenager from the other side of the world Looking for something more interesting than school’s authority Distances travelled in space, time and sorrow add up to one thing Your songs and books helped me discover In myself, what all the education in the world Could not; that I could write and illustrate my own story Knowledge to one is ignorance to another, unless there is love 1968, Hey Jude, the death of my father and mother Like a lost black sheep I entered the outside world Sold my records, went to work in a dark, thankless factory If a person makes enough of one thing, he or she becomes a thing While I got lost in nothing, you found your lover For whom you left the Beatles, left the wife, shocked the world Yoko, through the years of illusion, offered you reality Eternity may be a stone in Wales, but it is now we must live And so, lest the press smother You and your love both withdrew from the world Which had built you a boat of fame, then left you all at sea How many oak trees have been allowed to grow from the acorns? “Just like starting over” Is not starting over, you are now dead to the world Sean and Yoko no longer have the shade and strength of their tree That fallen tree made them a house which they must make a home iii We were always a decade away from each other Yet we were of the same generation You were the spiritual pathfinder I followed to the point of penetration And I never lost you, but let you go It was not lack of love, but life itself, caused the separation Now you too have joined the dead and living dead Who haunt and torment my existence On this quaint and sadly crazy planet on which To live is not just to breath, but an insistence That each such breath is a test of courage and will Which we understand at a metaphorical distance Christ! I know It ain’t easy!