David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 274: John Lennon (#9 Dream)

August 8, 2023

Anyone playing along at home (and that might be a half dozen of you) may have noticed that I long ago covered the Beatles, group, and three of the four individuals. By Day 188, McCartney had gone down, leaving just John Lennon.  Even at that time, I wasn't sure there would ever be a John Lennon entry here. However, now I realize that an entry explaining why I am not keen on providing an entry seems appropriate . . . and also a sign that if I need angles for remaining musicians, few, even negative ones, exist as strong as one for Lennon.

In 1985 or maybe Spring 1986, I attended a party at WVU that was small and intimate. I believe there were 10 people total, 5 couples. I had been invited by a friend of the host (and I am not even sure today who that friend was), so I had never met the host. I believe I knew just 2 or 3 of the people at the party, which included my pseudo-date, a woman I hung out with a lot during the time, not really dating, much to my disappointment, and this person who invited me. I am pretty sure he was with the WVU Department of English at the time, and I am pretty sure he had some kind of military background, relevant because his friend, the host, also came from a military background.

So much so, that when we arrived at the party, he was there in full fatigues, house full of army mementos, including weapons. In addition, the guy was all John Lennon, starting with the glasses. The apartment could have been a testament to everything hippie from 10-15 years earlier. Yes, the second that door shut behind me, I had stepped into a time capsule. (Remember this is the mid 1980s; most parties I attended had big hair and neon vibes already.)

This guy's fascination with Lennon extended beyond the glasses. Walls had Lennon and Beatles' posters; Lennon music blasted from the stereo; and the dude's wife was Asian (maybe Asian-American, I don't remember). I know this is horrible to say, but I remember thinking, "Good God, he found a cuter Yoko." Most bizarre was that the military interest was as predominantly displayed as the anti-war imagery connoted by Lennon. I worried that maybe my host was a tad schizophrenic.

There are hours of the party I don't really remember. I am pretty sure all I consumed was alcohol. My brief excursions with marijuana were past, and I have never done anything harder. Yet, I have to assume there were plenty of these illegal substances being passed around. In retrospect, I doubt I was having a good time, but my pseudo date seemed to be, as were others, and I never wanted to be the wet blanket in the crowd, so I sipped my drink and zoned out.

Somehow as the evening passed deep into the night, I noticed that sometime during the party, maybe while "Imagine," or "Give Peace A Chance," or "#9 Dream" was playing, all of the other attendees had disappeared with someone they had not come with. And I was sitting there alone with the host's wife. I remember awkwardly trying to process the situation, wondering if at this point it was just assumed I would make out with the woman. Whatever tiny part of my brain (or other part of my body) was hopeful for that was being repelled by the larger part of my brain that noted that the house was an arsenal, and that the host, potentially crazy, could come back at any minute and shoot my pale ass if I tried anything.

As a result, I tried to make small talk with the woman, who as far as I could tell (and given my reading of girls and women up to then, a skill still really underdeveloped for me) was giving no indications of other expectations. I believe that sometime around 2:00 AM, my "date" came back, and I quickly hustled us out of the house. I don't remember if I asked her anything about what she had been doing. My imagination of what she had been doing would have been devastating enough.

So, you will forgive me if "#9 Dream" comes on and I go into a bit of a PTSD trance. Certainly those opening f*ing lines sum the night up for me: "So long ago/was it in a dream/was it just a dream?" Trust me, especially as time has passed, it has seemed a (bad) dream. Yes, it "seemed so real," because it was damn real to me, but who do I talk to for confirmation? I only remember the name of one person at that party, yet contacting her to basically ask the question, "do you remember that one party?" seems doomed from the start.

In addition, that non-sensical refrain Lennon claims came to him in a dream, "Ah, bowakawa, pousse, pousse," conveys lots of unfortunate emotions for me, emotions that have plenty of meaning even 40 years later. Besides, it's very difficult to hear that phrase and not think the "pousse" references aren't to something anatomical. Sadly, if I could disassociate these memories from the song, I could hear it as a beautifully spiritual song, certainly something I am much more likely to appreciate than say "Mind Games."

And is usually the case, as I do a little research for this song to make sure I can fill in some gaps, I learn that Yoko is not the background vocal saying "John" on the song; no it is someone named May Pang who was Lennon's love interest for awhile during a temporary break-up with Ono. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, Pang was part of Lennon's infamous "Lost Weekend."

Good God, no one was with who they came with, either at the party or on the record. What kind of boring old fuddy-duddy was I . . . or am I?

So, please understand, if you want to play some Lennon around me, you'll have limited options: "Whatever Gets You Through The Night?" Nah, that was a long night to get through. "Imagine?" Hah! His cover of "Stand By Me?" Double hah!

I recommend "Watching The Wheels." I am no longer interested in riding the Lennon Merry-Go-Round.

Lennon, John. "#9 Dream." Walls And Bridges. Apple, 1974. Link here.

Day 273: Moby "God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters"

Day 275: The Stranglers "Peaches"

See complete list here.