Billy and Dad’s dear friend Mary has written us with a few questions for a report she’s doing on John Lennon. Here are her questions with our answers.
After you went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you wrote a post about John Lennon’s report card. I saw that he was not so good at most of the subjects, but he did a great job at Latin. Do you know of any songs where he used Latin?
We can’t think of any. But in “Sun King,” one of my favorite Lennon songs, he does use a mishmash of Latin-based words to create a surrealistic foreign poem.
Quando para mucho mi amore de felice corazon
Mundo paparazzi mi amore chica verdi parasol
Questo obrigado tanta mucho que cara te carousel
Lennon claimed that the main part of the song came to him in a dream. For the romance-language part, he said, “We just started joking, you know, singing, ‘Quando para mucho.’ Paul knew a few Spanish words from school, you know. So we just strung any Spanish words that sounded vaguely like something.” This jumble of ungrammatical Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese sounds like:
When as much of my love of a happy heart
The world paparazzi my love girl a green parasol
This thank-you so much that befriends your carousel
Who knows? As his French teacher wrote on his report card, “An intelligent boy who could do much better with a little concentration.”
Were there any other subjects that he did well on?
He did fairly well in art, handwork, and history. He struggled in science, math, and French. The general verdict on him: “He has too many of the wrong ambitions, and his energy is too often misplaced.” His Math teacher prophesied, “He is certainly on the road to failure if this goes on.”
I know that John’s first wife (whose name I can’t remember at the moment) was pregnant when she married John. Was she pregnant from John or somebody else?
Her name was Cynthia. John was the one who knocked her up. They never used birth control. When John found out she was pregnant, he said, “There’s only one thing for it, Cyn, we’ll have to get married.”
When John said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus how did people get over it?
Lennon always insisted that he was simply making a factual statement that the Beatles were exerting a bigger influence over young people than Christianity. He apologized if people mistook him as saying that the Beatles were better than God. Nonetheless, there were boycotts of the Beatles’ music and concerts; and their manager feared for their safety, in large part because the Klu Klux Klan vowed vengeance. Shortly after Lennon made the comment, the Beatles stopped touring forever. Later in life, Lennon said, “I always remember to thank Jesus for the end of my touring days; if I hadn’t said that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus and upset the very Christian Ku Klux Klan, well, Lord, I might still be up there with all the other performing fleas! God bless America. Thank you, Jesus.”
Was it Yoko Ono’s fault that the Beatles broke up?
This is one of the great questions, right up there with “Why is there being rather than nothing?” and “How did they ever build those pyramids?” Our own view is that she probably accelerated the breakup but didn’t cause it, that John was already feeling hemmed in by being a Beatle, and she symbolized the tensions in the air.
Did Julian become a singer?
Yes. He even had some popularity in the 1980s. Probably his most famous song is “Valotte.”
What we should really thank him for is the drawing that inspired “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and for calling forth from Paul “Hey Jude,” which was written for Julian as John and Cynthia were divorcing. The song was originally “Hey Jules,” but Jude was easier to sing.
Who was John’s other son?
Was son #2 from Yoko Ono or wife #1?
Sean is Yoko’s son.