By Danny Abriano
Five days after their marriage in Gibraltar, John Lennon and Yoko Ono checked into the Amsterdam Hilton for the beginning of their first Bed-In for peace – the second Bed-In would take place in May in Montreal.
With the Vietnam war raging and Lennon and Ono aware that their non-violent public demonstration of the war would make worldwide news, Lennon and Ono stayed in bed with signs hanging over their head that read “Bed Peace” and “Hair Peace.” In order to gain attention and spread their message of world peace, they invited the media into the room each day for 12 hours.
For the most part, though, the media didn’t take the Bed-In seriously.
During the Montreal Bed-In two months later, Lennon spoke with Timothy Leary.
When asked if the message of peace was getting through, Lennon replied:
Yeah, think about it. But they’re getting it, y’know, I mean they must be. Our voices must be going out solid about every quarter of an hour. And if it isn’t singing, it’s talking, and we’re just repeating the same bit, y’know, and there’s very little “Me eyes are brown and Paul’s…y’know? I mean I do that for the ones that need it. Most of it’s just, “let’s get it together,” and it must be going out now like a mantra. We’re trying to set up a mantra, a peace mantra, and get it in their heads. It’s gonna work.
Lennon had actually wanted to hold the second Bed-In in New York, not Montreal, but he wasn’t allowed into the country due to his recent marijuana conviction.
The lasting images and videos from both Bed-Ins seem to have had far more impact than the actual Bed-Ins had at the time. However, that isn’t an indictment on Lennon or Ono. Rather, it’s a reflection of the media not taking their brilliant tactics seriously.
It’s also likely that Lennon’s political activism had a strong negative impact on the fact that the United States government began to harass him – and attempt to deport him – a few years later.
In 2012, Yoko Ono posted the Bed-In movie for all to see. It can be viewed below:
On today’s date in 1985, a year after Strawberry Fields opened in Central Park as a tribute to John Lennon, a dedication ceremony (with Julian Lennon, Sean Lennon, and Yoko Ono on hand) was held for the Imagine mosaic that sits prominently at Strawberry Fields.
Over the last 29 years, the Imagine mosaic has become a place for John Lennon fans to reflect and celebrate the life of the legendary Beatle.
Below, are thoughts on Strawberry Fields from Fest founder Mark Lapidos, Fest Director of Marketing Michelle Lapidos, and Fest Production Associate Danny Abriano:
I think of Strawberry Fields as a place where fans can go to reflect on the life of John Lennon, and just what he still means to all of us. To know that John & Yoko thought of this area, across the street from their home, as a sanctuary where they could go for a walk as any other couple might do on a nice afternoon in NYC. Now, there are always fans around, playing guitars, singing his songs and Beatles songs, happy to be in a place where John called home.
I LOVE Strawberry Fields! To me it is the perfect place in the park to hang out and think about John, his impact on the world, and how I will make my own imprint. It’s amazing to sing and jam with Strawberry Fielders like we’re under the stairs at Chicago Fest (kinda…), especially on John’s birthday. It has also served as a wonderful,
peaceful meeting spot for my Skipping Club, my skipping fitness group. Also, it makes for fabulous photo opps.
Since I was born after John Lennon was senselessly taken from us, Strawberry Fields – to me – is a place where I feel closest to John. On any given day, the area around the Imagine mosaic is either tranquil or filled with music from those who are celebrating John’s life and legacy. It’s truly an amazing place to visit. When there, it’s easy to see why John made New York his home.
By Danny Abriano
On this date in 1984, John Lennon’s “I’m Stepping Out” (with Yoko Ono’s “Sleepless Night” as the B side) was posthumously released as a single in the U.S.
The song, which was recorded in 1980, was featured on the John and Yoko album Milk and Honey.
At the time of his death, Lennon was starting to embark on what would’ve been his re-emergence after the five year hiatus he took from the music business between 1975 and 1980.
In a 1980 interview with Playboy, Lennon described why he took his break from the music business:
There were many reasons. I had been under obligation or contract from the time I was 22 until well into my 30s. After all those years, it was all I knew. I wasn’t free. I was boxed in. My contract was the physical manifestation of being in prison. It was more important to face myself and face that reality than to continue a life of rock ‘n’ roll… and to go up and down with the whims of either your own performance or the public’s opinion of you. Rock ‘n’ roll was not fun anymore. I chose not to take the standard options in my business… going to Vegas and singing your great hits, if you’re lucky, or going to hell, which is where Elvis went.
The years Lennon spent away from the music industry included lots of time spent as a “househusband,” whose main focus was taking care of his young son Sean. “I’m Stepping Out” is John’s tale of his time away from the business and how it was at times making him stir crazy.
There were lots of reasons why John wanted to return to the spotlight in 1980, which he explained during the same Playboy interview cited above:
You breathe in and you breathe out. We feel like doing it and we have something to say. Also, Yoko and I attempted a few times to make music together, but that was a long time ago and people still had the idea that the Beatles were some kind of sacred thing that shouldn’t step outside its circle. It was hard for us to work together then. We think either people have forgotten or they have grown up by now, so we can make a second foray into that place where she and I are together, making music… simply that. It’s not like I’m some wondrous, mystic prince from the rock-‘n’-roll world dabbling in strange music with this exotic, Oriental dragon lady, which was the picture projected by the press before.
As is noted, lots of what John was feeling during his “househusband” period – including his yearning to eventually make a partial return to the spotlight – was described in “I’m Stepping Out,” which can be heard below.