Monday 11 January 2016

David Crosby - Graham Nash "Whistling Down The Wire" (1976)

Available to buy in ebook format 'Change Partners - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young' by clicking here!

Crosby-Nash "Whistling Down The Wire" (1976)

Spotlight/Broken Bird/Time After Time/Dancer/Mutiny//J B's Blues/Marguerita/Taken At All/Foolish Man/Out Of The Darkness

"The Byrd (and Hollie) you saw dying we saw flying..."

Every successful album has an evil twin; a record that takes the same ingredients that made the last one special and ends up forgetting to turn the oven on/gets the timings wrong/finds the world has moved on and is asking for a very different recipe as soon as it's ready. Sometimes the creators realize this and try to add to it ('Smile' is a huge leap over 'Pet Sounds'), other times they release it half-cooked to get it out the way ('Magical Mystery Tour'), other times they pause partway through and go in as opposite a direction as they can manage (Neil Young's 'Time Fades Away' is a whole other species to 'Harvest'). And sometimes the albums come out anyway because, well, the creators aren't quite sure what the heck it was they came up with last time anyway and it takes a long time and a lot of effort to make an album so why throw out some good ideas after bad? 'Whistling Down The Wire', Crosby and Nash's third album, is one of those records. Released a mere nine months after the unexpected hit record 'Wind On The Water' (the quickest turn around for studio albums either man will manage post their sixties careers in the Byrds and Hollies), 'Wire' is proof that great albums take time and inspiration and cannot be released to order just because your new record company wants another hit. So far Wire's reputation amongst long-term fans has fallen to the point where it shares with missing partner Stephen Stills' 'Thoroughfare Gap' the distinction of being the only CSN-related product of the 70s not automatically rated 'gorgeous' or higher.

Having not known of this album's reputation - and actually finding it out of sequence, as the first of the duo's work but behind most of the actual CSN albums - I must confess to also feeling a bit underwhelmed, without ever quite knowing why. It's not that any of the songs on it are bad (although goodness knows I don't play the likes of 'Foolish Man' on repeat) or that their twin voices are anything less than pristine (though it would have been nice to hear Crosby and Nash together a bit more) or that the group of session musicians have suddenly lost the ability to be the perfect backing band in nine months. There's just a slight feeling about it of 'will this do?', with the added problem that released in the 'year that changed everything' that was punk's 1976 this most youthful of bands is beginning to sound a little middle aged (CSN are traditionally more 'punk' than you might expect - have a listen to 'Almost Cut My Hair' or Stills re-inventing himself on a 1976 tour of Cuba - but this is their least punk LP released just at the wrong time, in every way that 'Wind On The Water' was the perfect album for prog rock's last great year, with just enough bared teeth to sound contemporary too). Middle aged is understandable from a band who were by now in their middle-thirties though and complacency is inevitable when you make as music as these guys do. So why this album so reviled and ignored, unavailable on CD until as late as 2000? (and currently pout of print except via MCA's pricey but popular 'print on demand' service - that's most likely how you'll find this album on Amazon and the like if you're after a copy).

Well, the bad timing doesn't help. The sudden speed with which Crosby-Nash go from making one of their most inspired collections of music to one of their least is a shock we hadn't really had from this band before. And given that the CSN ethos has always been that nothing less than your best will ever do in life and love and your record collection, the slight air of complacency does come as a shock. But a weak album by a great band is usually deserving of a second chance at the AAA and so it proves with this one. Truth is, we've been reading this album the wrong way. There's nothing here as inherently musical as 'Wind On The Water's title sequence, as rabble/rebel-rousing as 'Fieldworker' or as poignantly gorgeous as 'Carry Me', despite the very similar chord sequences and session muso stylings, because this isn't that sort of an album. 'Water' is an album that wore it's heart on its sleeve - it is after all an album that found Crosby 'naked in the rain' and found Nash similarly honest and open.  'Wire' is an album that works by a whole other set of rules, foisted on the duo by circumstances. On the one hand Nash has fallen in love big time with his future wife Susan, but he's not sure if he wants the world to know about it yet until he's ready, so instead we get the craziest set of love songs he ever wrote, full of in-jokes and references even long-term fans might not get. Crosby is having a miserable year, sliding into drug hell at speed and it's the first year his friends actually notice how out of control things are getting. Many of his songs are full of feelings that sound forced by his own high standards, in denial or couched in false optimism or reckless humility ('Out Of The Darkness' must be the saddest sounding happy song ever written). 'Wind On The Water' is an album written in code, to be deduced only with a firsthand knowledge of the events of the time, without the usual political commentary or heartfelt love songs. Even the title sounds like a spy story, a message 'whistling down the wires from pole to pole' without the pair's usual directness of speech.

One of the major themes of the album that you really need to know to understand it is what was happening to CSNY as a family unit in 1976.  The quartet had last tried a foursome back in 1974 and had gone on a lengthy and productive tour before finally falling apart just two or three (the number varies depending whose telling the story) newly recorded songs for their studio album. By 1976 the band have tried again after the only Stills-Young album in the band's history 'Long May You Run' started going wrong. Realising that the record sounded a bit too rough and needed harmonies, Stills called a halt midway through and called the duo who agreed to add a few new songs and turn it into a four-way project. 'Run', though, fell apart at the seams with old problems between the quartet creating tension and leading up to the point where Nash queried a vocal line on a Stills song he thought was rather hard and unwittingly created an argument that blazed on for hours, ending with Stills supposedly taking a razor to the master-tapes to cut the pair's harmony work out (one track, 'Black Coral', was released in full CSNY harmony on the Stills box set 'Carry On', mind, so he certainly didn't wreck them all). Neil also goes on one of his infamous un-announced walkabouts away from the project round about this time. By the end of 1976 the quartet have split back into pairs, most of the music world blissfully unaware how close they came to the long-delayed sequel to 1970's 'Deja Vu', but still the bitterness lingers on as heard in several tracks on this album, particularly Nash's. 'Spotlight' is about how fame does funny things even to great people, 'Taken At All' is a CSNY abandoned album projects name-dropping prelude to 'Wasted On The Way', 'J B's Blues' apologises for letting everyone down - again - and 'Mutiny' a couched story of the bitterness he feels at the betrayal, set in 'Sailboat Bay' - the unlikely name for the holiday resort he was staying in to cut the 'Long May You Run' songs. Less bitterly, 'J B's Blues' is a reference-filled song of love to CSNY friend, fan, photographer and cataloguer Joel Bernstein, which is almost an apology for having come so close to the album so many fans want made - although it speaks volumes that Nash's close pal is mentioned only by his initials on this of all albums, where nothing is direct anymore.

By far the most interesting 'code' to sort out, though, is Nash's new love story. Before now Nash has been one of the most openly unworriedly romantic writers of them all - you only need 'Our House' to know what being in a relationship with Graham is like (when it's going well, at least) while Nash will in time write even more oozingly romantic love songs than that for his new girlfriend ('Song For Susan', on 1982's 'Daylight Again', is perhaps the ultimate Nash ballad). Here, though, he's simply enjoying having Susan to himself, after having met her in the cafe both he and Crosby loved popping into while making 'Wind On The Water' (actually forget the record company pressure thing, which C-N usually didn't pay heed to anyway - making another album so close to the pair's favourite breakfast place was probably the main reason for making this record!) Take 'Broken Bird', the elliptical, obscure and so un-Nash like song that's left fans and reviewers scratching their heads: it's actually Graham's first love song for his wife, a potter, who was busy making a pretty bird statue for her new boyfriend at home to remember her by. Graham walked in un-announced, saw his girlfriend hard at work and was so overcome with joy he went up to give her a big hug and yell 'I love you!' in her ear. Susan jumped, the broken bird smashed - and went up on the mantlepiece anyway an even greater memory of their love than the 'vase' in 'Our House', 'real' in it's very broken state, a symbol not of a love 'dying' but 'flying' (sadly the revelation of this story put an end to my wonderings if this was another song about Crosby a la the first draft of 'Wind On The Water', a 'Broken Byrd' if you will or that this was a sequel to Nash's solo 'Wounded Bird' - ah well, that's reviewing for you!) 'Marguerita' may also be about Susan too, the album's one and only 'Wind On The Water' outtake where a man goes out for a drink and falls in love instead, but as with most of this album it's hidden in such codes and name-changes we'll never know.

Crosby, meanwhile, is struggling to come up with half an album's worth of material so soon after his last record (he's never been the speediest of writers, at least compared to his CSNY colleagues who are all more prolific than average). On the plus side that means the world finally gets to hear the gorgeous 'Time After Time', a ballad premiered on the CSNY 1974 tour and which is one of his prettiest, most overlooked songs. 'Dancer' too is a fine instrumental that's the last in his scat-singing jazz-chord series that's run since 'If Only I Could Remember My Name' in 1971 and 'Out Of The Darkness' would have been a fine song if it were true, only of course it isn't and that sense of 'lying' comes over into the final recording, unusual for Crosby (it might be significant that Nash's song about Crosby's addiction in 1982 will be named 'Into The Darkness', the nasty ugly yin to this song's breezily hopeful drug-riddled yang). 'Foolish Man', though, is one of the few unlikeable songs in the Crosby canon, an angular confessional piece that's trying hard to be another 'Homeward Through The Haze' but ends up a blues holler with an unusually weak rhyming structure instead (it will lead to the gorgeous 'Anything At All' on the 1977 CSN reunion mind, so all is not lost). At four songs to Nash's six, though (a few extra lyrics on 'Taken At All' aside), Crosby has never felt less like an equal partner. Sadly he won't be one again until as late as the 1994 CSN reunion 'After The Storm' (named after a song that sounds like the 'real' 'Out Of The Darkness'), but this is the first time he's had to hide the fact and with only Nash to 'cover' for him it makes the album sound rather more unbalanced than it would a CSN album.

You can generally tell how involved C/S/N/Y are with a record by how much they tend to play on it. It might speak volumes, then, that around 95% of the performance on this album are performed by The Mighty Jitters - the sadly un-credited-by-that-name backing band who play almost all the instrumental parts across this album, with Nash reduced to a little guitar and a bit of harmonica and Crosby all but instrumentally mute. To be fair, the Jitters are a great little band who rightly won a lot of plaudits for the Stills/Young/Dallas Taylor sound they brought to 'Wind On The Water'. Once again David Lindley and Danny Kortchmar between them are a fine guitar duel, their double solo on 'Mutiny' a gorgeous exercise in chaos and noise, while the chance to play flamenco on 'Marguerita' proves that they can do soft and delicate as well. Craig Doerge's piano is central to this album in a way it never really has been to CSN before now, picking up on the lead of 'Bittersweet' from the last LP by adding a whole new texture to the till-now guitar-dominated CSN sound. Russell Kunkel finds new ways to combine rock and roll strutting with mellow vibes on the spooky drums. And Tim Drummond, on 'loan' from Neil Young's backing band (and who first partnered Crosby-Nash when they helped out on the 'doom' tour for 'Time Fades Away') proves why he was so in demand in the mid-70s. Usually turning CSN ideas over to backing bands is a terrible idea - look what happened to 'Live It Up' in 1990 - but this is a band who are sympathetic to the duo's ideas and who, thanks to a number of period band performances on other people's records (see our AAA review on Art Garfunkel for more, sometimes with Crosby-Nash guest appearances to boost) are nicely tight. A Jitters-backed tour of this album and a live album will follow, but the Jitters are clearly more of a 'studio' band, the biggest difference between them and the CSNY bands being their preference for set arrangements rather than improvisation. Sadly that live album will be the last will hear of Crosby-Nash as a duo until as late as 2004 (an aborted album in 1989 notwithstanding).

I wonder how well this album might have gone down without a million-seller to compare it to. Many reviewers picked up on the fact that 'Wire' seems deliberately made to seem as much like its predecessor as possible - the only time any of CSN really do this - with a similar full head-and-shoulders picture shot (albeit with the duo looking grumpier) and a very familiar looking running order. 'Time After Time' is 'Bittersweet', the chance to recover with a breathy ballad after the intensity of the opening tracks; 'Dancer' is the oh so Crosby moment right where 'Naked In The Rain' was before; Nash's 'Mutiny' ends side one on a screaming slow-burning rocker similar to Nash's 'Love Work Out'; 'Foolish Man' almost is the same song as 'Homeward Through The Haze' chord-wise anyway, even if the directions both songs take their 'hurt' in are very different; finally 'Out Of The Darkness' almost sounds crafted by Crosby to sound like the dreamy 'To The Last Whale'. In a way that's a shame: 'Wire' has been so hard done by down the years partly because it's so long been treated by the same 'rules' as 'Wind On The Water'; obtuse, dark and symbolic rather than open, honest and emotional, these albums are twins only in sound and 'feel', linked like twins to a specific point in time and much of the same DNA. It's what they choose to do differently with that DNA that's so interesting - and if you can understand that then you can appreciate this troubled album much more.

'Whistling Down The Wire', then, is a hard album to get a hold of. It lacks the directness of 'Graham Nash, David Crosby' and the heartfelt-sentiment-turned-into-killer-sentiment of 'Wind On The Water'. It's easily the weakest of the three 1970s Crosby-Nash records and probably represents the least extinguished album either Crosby or Nash worked on across their most successful decade. And yet, while I've always been a little underwhelmed by this record, there's no point in telling its creators off for delivering their only A- record in a run of A+s (in this era at least; believe me, there are some 'must try harder' comments coming up for later decades). Over years of listenings I've come to love this record in a whole different way to most of the other CSN items, falling in love with different sections and separate ingredients more than I have the final product: Nash's gloriously poetic verses to 'Broken Bird' so different to his usual style; his warm-hearted lyrics to both his band ('Taken At All') and his fan (and by extensions fans) on 'J B's Blues'; the sense of menace when 'Mutiny' finally puts an end to three whole minutes of sulking and gets on with it - and how, thanks to a glorious solo; the pure fragility of 'Time After Time', a track that could surely only have been written by Crosby; the moment when 'Dancer' stops trying to grunt her way off the ground and goes soaring into the middle distance on some lazy, crazy ethereal harmonies that are truly sublime. No there's no one song here that ranks alongside the duo's best (though 'Broken Bird' 'Time After Time' and 'Taken At All' come close, it has to be said) and few CSN albums get it as wrong - or at least as bland - as the pair do on 'Spotlight' or 'Foolish Man'. But the chance to hear the pair do 'cryptic' in a way they never will again for more than a song at a time is a welcome one - with just enough of that message to whistle down the wire back to us to keep things interesting (well, I'd guessed 'J B's Blues' before Nash spoke about it anyway; I wasn't even close to 'Broken Bird'!) and proves that the band weren't simply making a sequel to a hit album. It filled a big hole in our young souls, right between two of the finest releases in the CSN canon - sometimes that's enough.

'Spotlight' is such a Graham Nash song. Half humble apology, half egotistical rant, it's at one with his other stormy songs about the ongoing CSNY saga, only marginally less angry than the better known 'Frozen Smiles'. Nash has been asked why he's bothered to come along, guitar in hand, and is challenged that he's after the spotlight - but isn't that what writers do? Singing 'about places that you've been too so you can see them once again through me'; all Nash is after is a chance to pass on his way of seeing in the world of hoping it will touching another soul, throwing in a 'but it's only me' for good measure. Nash sounds as if he's addressing Stills or Young or both here (the same way he once did on 'Chicago', telling them that they should know the thrill of having a platform to share their music because they do the same. Nash is half apologetic, half proud as he informs us that singing in the spotlight is all he's ever known: 'I've got to do it almost all the time - it fills a big hole in my young soul!' If my reading of this song is right (and, hey, I've been wrong before) then 'Spotlight' suggests that the aborted CSNY reunion of 1976 might have had more to do with Crosby/Nash refusing to join as anything less than equal partners after being hired purely as backing singers. 'Taken It All', at least, was written for the 1976 CSNY sessions (it seems to have been the only song close to being finished after being started from scratch - you can hear it on the 1991 box set) which suggests that the idea was considered whatever Stills was thinking about their 'status' on the album. This song sounds like Nash angrily heading home or to pick up the pieces of this half-finished album trying to make sense of what's just happened. He's earned the right to co-billing by now hasn't he, surely?  Why should alone - least of all a friend - question his need to be in the spotlight, as isn't that what they're all doing? Alas what sounds like an intriguing lyric is slightly cut short by a song that has only three verses and no real chorus and a melody that simply patters along without the anger or urgency of the lyrics. Nash's Dylanesque harmonica puffing hasn't got any better with the years either, though on the plus side his vocal is excellent, caught between adult outrage and little boy lost puzzlement. This is also one of the few tracks on the album that features Crosby and Nash singing together throughout.

'Broken Bird' is a real breakthrough in Nash's writing. Till now he's been dismissed as the 'obvious' writer out of the four, the 'poppy' one as if that's something bad (it's s necessary part of their dynamic: Crosby's, Stills' and especially Young's darker songs sound much better for coming after Nash's, while Nash's work is only simple by comparison to his colleagues). But 'Broken Bird' is as surreal as anything by Crosby, as epic as most of Stills' work and as mysterious as Young at his peak, an elliptical song about a romance he isn't quite sure about letting onto just yet. Nash's tale of pottery-driven angst is more about the pair's blossoming romance hanging in the balance between the awful moment when he realises he's broken something beautiful with his carelessness and the split second later when his new girlfriend realises it's him and laughs. The seconds are stretched out to an infinity as Nash pauses, waiting anxiously for his shocked girlfriend's re-action 'who hardly said a word'. An unusual chorus, repeated twice in succession separated only by a guitar solo, enhances the idea of this song being about communication, Nash waiting for Susan's response to flicker on her face and trying to read the outcome of the 'broken bird'. By the end of the song the pair have made it up, with hazy recollections of the pair 'reading in the dark' (each other's emotions perhaps?) and learning to communicate. Until the end 'Broken Bird' has been musically sleepwalking, it's wings clipped as if it's waiting for something to happen good or bad, surreal and dreamlike. Finally in the last half of the last verse the song breaks off unexpectedly, making its decision to soar towards the sun: 'It's ok! She laughed! She doesn't hate me for spoiling her pottery project with my love for her!' The song suddenly soars off into the middle distance as 'the bird that you saw dying' only a few precious seconds and two verses earlier has been turned into a symbol of their love, a 'funny story' to tell their children and grandchildren about (the song even starts with the line 'I'd like to tell you a story...' as if that's what Nash is doing to 'us', his Graham grandkids). Ironically the broken bird is the moment when the pair's romance is truly 'flying' having taken on the next stage. An impressively dense track enhances this lovely and unusual song, with some excellent sparring between Lindley's purring electric question marks and Kortchmar's sorrowful slide guitar, while the use of both Crosby and Nash at the bottom of their register in tandem on the chorus also enhances the song's ghostly, mysterious feel. One of the real hidden classics of the CSN canon.

Crosby's 'Time After Time' is another album highlight, his most blissfully sleepy and delicate song since 'If Only I Could Remember My Name' and without the darkness of many his immediate post-Christine Hinton 'tragedy' songs. It's a track that dates from 1974 and that all too brief moment when the darkness of her fatal accident hadn't yet run into the darkness of the full-on drug period head on. Like 'Broken Bird', it's a track that plays with our ideas of time (something much more typical of Crosby's songs), as he finds himself 'running in rhyme' and synchronisation with a loved one who makes him forget all about the usual human pressures of time. Many of Crosby's later songs use the metaphor of life not as a long and winding road (as so many writers do) but as a mountain to climb, full of peaks and troughs. That imagery seems to start here, as at last he finds a quiet path of his own personal cliff-face to navigate and enjoys a 'slow, easy climb' now that someone's path has coincided with his (Crosby was having his own 'happy' period back in 1974 after meeting future wife Jan Dance), unwinding in the pure joy of love. In two tracks, then, we've had Nash sounding like Crosby and now Crosby doing a Nash by sounding more in love than he has in years. Nash adds a lovely harmonica part to this lovely track, so fragile it feels like it's about to break at any moment, Crosby still in awe that 'part of the puzzle has fallen in place'. Crosby's written far deeper, more emotional and way more groundbreaking songs than this, but sometimes simple and slow is enough and 'Time After Time' is another of this album's songs that doesn't get the respect it deserves.

'Dancer' is the fourth instrumental-with-wordless-voices piece of Crosby's career and his last until 'How Does It Shine?' in 2004. Interestingly, it's by far his rockiest of the five pieces, with a harder edge than the 'Remember My Name' songs, less reflective than 'Where Will I Be?' and less poppy than 'Shine'. Usually when Crosby's giving us pure music without the words it means he has something so colossally huge on  his mind that mere words aren't enough and so it feels here, with a track that's forever twisting and turning, 'dancing' it's way through a rather challenging set of chords that by the middle feels like a battle going on, heightened by Crosby's almost-screams. The question is, does the huge theatrical scale of this piece mean love or war? Crosby's never spoken much about this track, but it seems fair to say that it's about either love or drugs, perhaps even both twinned together, his main muses of the period.  His partner's maiden name of 'Dance' might be a clue, with romance a series of increasing challenges separated by some truly lovely reflective bits of music. Or is the dark and evil edge on this track more in spirit with Crosby's increasing drug habit, the 'lost child' of future song 'Delta' realising for the first time that he's hit muddy waters he can't navigate a way out of? 'Dancer' is an unusual track which of all of Crosby's similar works feels most like one that's speaking in tongues, with scat words that sound like another language rather than this being a song that could only have been an instrumental. There is perhaps one shift too many from laidback stargazing to caveman grunting, but Crosby's harmonies and Lindley's snarling animalistic guitar (matching him note for note) are strong. The strings overdubs that drift in and out as if breaking through from another dimension are well handled too, less lush than on 'To The Last Whale' while still in keeping with the mood. It's a shame though that this sounds very much like a solo Crosby song with very little Nash heard - the pair of singers were always best when they were together and they'd already proven on 'Tree With No Leaves' that they had the right telepathy to carry this off.

The noisiest song on the album by far is 'Mutiny', another of Nash's songs of anger and betrayal over the 'Long May You Run' sessions (it's interesting that he's so much more hurt by it all than Crosby is, perhaps because the finishing argument was directly between him and Stills). Picking up from 'Crosby's own 'Cowboy Movie' (about the first CSNY split in 1970), Nash paints a dark sea story about betrayal, pirates and mutinies. For years we didn't know for certain what this song was about - it sounded like Nash had got carried away on holiday again (see The Hollies' 1967 songs 'Postcard' and 'Wishyouwish' for what a beach holiday, a little imagination and a lot of drugs can do between them). But then he revealed in his 'Reflections' box set that he'd stayed in and had to then cancel his reservation in Sailboat Bay, North California and suddenly the whole song made sense: 'Long May You Run', which Nash would have heard a good half of, is after all a 'nautical themed' album ('Ocean Girl' 'Black Coral' 'Midnight On The Bay'). So trust Nash to write his own song to fit the album's 'theme' in absence, while subverting the idea to reflect his feelings over that album (was this song even started on a watery theme to better match where the album seemed to be going?) Nash the narrator  is being forced to walk the gang-plank by 'two monkeys who can do the two-step (two faced step?) very well' who must surely be Stills and Young and being rescued from the water by a captain ('shadow captain' Crosby? He officially became a sea 'captain' legally in 1971) who takes him on a course for 'shangri-la'. Along the way we also see cannibals on the shore (record company executives pushing for a CSNY reunion before Stills was ready and risking the Stills-Young album being 'eaten up' too perhaps?), 'blue birds over my head waiting for the sea to dry' (Stills' usual reference to Judy Collins on many a Buffalo Springfield and solo song - interesting it's not a 'raven' given that's Stills' image for Rita Coolidge, who'd been the girlfriend of both of them at different times) and most puzzling of all a 'farmer standing on the bridge' nonchalantly looking on (is this ranch owner Neil Young?) Alas, apart from playing 'Where's Wally?' CSN style, this track feels a bit less dignified than some of the others: there's no real resolution to the song and it just stays in the same cod-disco-funk rhythm throughout the track, with one of Nash's simplest and least inviting choruses ('It's mutiny on sailboat bay, mutiny so far away!') Once again there's comparatively little Crosby here - not a good sign - though on the plus side the closing instrumental meshing of Lindley and Kortchmar guitars is well handled, suddenly burning after four minutes of waiting to catch fire. It's a pretty neat memory of the Stills-Young guitar duels - in fact it sounds very much like what fans were expecting the Stills-Young album to be like (it is instead mainly an album of pretty ballads and whatever the heck 'Fontainebleu' is meant to be).

A much happier song written in code, 'J B's Blues' is a tribute/apology to longstanding friend Joel Bernstein, who started his career as a photographer before getting lumbered with the job of becoming CSNY's unofficial archivist (though I'd like to think Nash was writing about toddler racing driver Jenson Button as well). The apology, for whatever reason (another band split perhaps?) must have worked because the pair still work closely together now and have done all three of the C, S and N box sets plus the 'CSNY 74' one. Nash, certainly, is adamant that he's a 'friend' talking to a friend openly and honestly, asking for forgiveness 'if I've ever disappointed you' and admitting 'I've said some things you might not like to hear - but it's only me and how I feel about you!' There are lots of 'in-jokes' here for those who can work the identity of J B out (the fact he shot the album sleeve and thus gets a credit not that far from the track title helps, by the way): 'looking through the glass at shooting stars' (a pretty good description of a photographer), wanting the world to 'see' who 'we are' (the rejoinder 'It's not 'So Far' referring of course to the hated 1974 compilation thrown together by Atlantic) and JB finding his own girl to 'watch the sunset with' (he'd much admired the unused 'Human Highway' cover shot of CSNY on holiday in Hawaii, shot by Nash himself). Alas at two verses this song doesn't get much space to say anything beyond 'you are my friend' - we could have easily had a verse each per CSNY reunion/disbandment and turned this into a concept album and the vocal lines are a little tricky for Crosby and Nash to sing in tandem, with Nash the 'lead' and Croz pushes unnaturally high. Instrumentally, too, this country-ish song (clearly modelled on 'Cowboy Of Dreams') rambles slightly and can't quite match the words. No matter though, it's a sweet song of friendship sung with just enough of a knowing wink.

'Marguerita' is the closest to a straightforward love song on the album, a tale of love at first sight over a 'Margarita' cocktail (although I'd like to think the couple had a 'Margarita' pizza for afters). A 'goodbye but I'll be back' song, this slow romantic ballad pulls all the heart strings with fiddles, flamenco guitars, keyboards and bar-room piano but never quite gives us enough context for any of these being here. Officially all that happens is he offers her a drink, she asks for a Margarita and they hold each other while later they get out of a nearby pool and she order the same - not enough for a full verse or even a full night together, never mind a full song. There is though the symbolism - again unusual for Nash - of her asking for 'no salt', something reflected 'in her eyes' which are 'unadorned' 'unseasoned', pure and full of longing and the curious factor that 'she held me - and never asked me why', a question we never actually hear Nash ask (though it sounds like 'I'll be gone for a little while). Given that this song is the only 'Wind On The Water' outtake and is, like much of the 'Wire' album, couched in deep symbolic gestures and a romance, could it be that the entire record was written round that Terminator-style promise 'I'll be by/back' so that Nash could once again record close to where his new girlfriend lived and worked? Nash certainly sounds in love, with a slow and hypnotic quality to his voice - not unusual to be fair - but he probably wished his girlfriend had ordered a different drink given how many times he has to sing the un-rhymeable 'Marguerita', a word he seems to have uncharacteristic trouble pronouncing ('Margaweeta!') That's quite cute, though, and adds to the pure and innocent nature of the song. Like many of the 'Wire' songs, though, this short song is at least a verse away from excellence and was probably the right track to drop from 'Wind On The Water' to be honest.

The easiest song on the album to de-code and the only Crosby-Nash collaboration here is the charming 'Taken At All'. Originally Crosby-Nash were meant to sing the intro of this song about unity and parting together, with Stills and Young joining in on the second 'Lost it on the 'Highway' verse (as heard on a glorious outtake included on the CSN box set). This re-recording lacks the extra strength of the vocals and the intimacy of the all-acoustic performance, but gains from another charming Mighty Jitters backing heavy on the guitars. Though recorded at the 1976 sessions before the split, it was actually written for the one in 1974 on 'Human Highway', the place where CSNY's brotherhood was 'lost'. Nash always seemed to feel the CSNY splits more than the others - at least in song, with 'Wasted On The Way' a song partly about the 1976 split - and is a mixture of petulant and determined not to let it happen again here (this is mainly his song, with added Crosby 'jokes'!) Asking his brothers to 'take another look' and see him for who he really is, Nash sighs at splitting up over something small ('Is that all you thought it took?') and sums up the 1974 split with references to legal 'dotted lines' and the fact that 'you were going your way - I was going mine'. Wondering what's best for himself and for the others - working as a band, as a duo or as a solo act - he asks which road is the right one to be 'taken' and asks Stills/Young to re-think the rows 'in the lonely light of day'. A clever, sweet song that's just ambiguous enough to be a 'love' song (especially if you had a row on a 'highway'), it's one of Nash's cleverest songs and inspires a great vocal, warm and generous. Crosby's cheeky grin too sounds great alongside and it makes sense that, 'Spotlight' aside, this song about belated unity should be the album track to feature the pair singing together the most. Another nice string arrangement enhances the song nicely, though for this song at least less is more and there is perhaps a bit too much going on here compared to the CSNY original recording from earlier in the year.

Poor Crosby, who always struggled with deadlines, is having a really tough time when asked to write for another album so soon after the last. So we get the start of what will become a Crosby tradition with 'Foolish Man', the bluesy song written to order when an album needs to be recorded in a hurry ('After The Storm' alone will feature two of these). The most regretful and guilty song on quite a guilty album, Crosby complains about having 'grown up wild' and 'not doing well in school' - two of the things he used to be most proud of when in The Byrds. He's become paranoid, expecting 'things that don't happen'. Time is passing him by as he's unable to 'seize fortune's moment' and count his blessings - he's too busy looking over his shoulder at the future and he berates himself at every turn for his 'foolish' actions. As things will turn out, Crosby was probably right to feel that something bad was about to happen and you sense that this is the first of a run of coded 'help me!' songs, the drugs in his system having overtaken his ability to enjoy life. Blaming no one but himself, Crosby tries to laugh at his pitiful state but finds he can't 'because it cuts so damn close to the bone' (thankfully this song's smarter, closer cousin 'Anything At All' from the 1977 CSN album will prove that he can laugh at himself - and how). Unfortunately this song doesn't really do anything except wallow in the self-pity: though Nash sweeps in for the slower, sweeter middle eight ('Time just flies...') the song starts sleepwalking its way down the same ugly chords again, on a ride to nowhere that we know can only end in trouble. The result is an oddly unlikeable song - one of the very few unlikeable Crosby songs - but then it seems that that was the whole idea, with Crosby berating himself. Unnecessarily of course: there's no one as smart as someone who knows they still have so much to learn about life and Crosby is one of the smartest people there is, however badly he did at school.

I've had a mixed relationship with 'Out Of The Darkness' down the years. It's one of the few Crosby pieces (or CSN for that matter) you could ever imagine being covered by someone else and quite a useful piece for bringing back onside the relatives/friends you've lost from playing the gloriously unhinged nine minute version of 'Almost Cut My Hair' over and over for hours. But should Crosby be sounding like everyone else? Craig Doerge's piano-based melody isn't anywhere close to being the equal of his sterling work on 'Shadow Captain' the next year and for once Crosby the lyricist seems to have followed rather than led. Perhaps enjoying the slightly jazzy but (by Crosby standards) rather normal chord changes, Crosby was led to think in terms of light and happiness, banishing the darkness and living in the moment the way he once promised on 'Foolish Man' and 'Time After Time'. But this doesn't feel like that sort of a track. Crosby's most uplifting lyric prior to his post-prison renaissance sounds as if it's been gifted to the wrong song, coinciding with all the wrong bits - the moment when he sings 'here in the light...' is accompanied by the creepiest eeriest note heard on a CSN song for a long time. It's almost as if Crosby wants us to know that what he's singing is a lie, as if his inner critic just can't let him write a purely 'happy' song when he already knows (as hinted in 'Foolish Man') that life is getting out of control and things are going to get worse. The sudden push on the vocals soaring to the sky (clearly a direct copy of the famous rush of energy on 'Everybody I Love You') sounds inhibited and false by CSN standards, falling back onto a curious instrumental piece that, perhaps symbolically, wavers slightly out of tune once the sugary strings have been layered on the top. And what strings: though pretty, they also have a very dulling effect, the effect being not so much one of someone bursting through from dark into light but of a patient being put to sleep with heavy tranquilisers that numb the pain (surely the closest musical interpretation yet of the heavy drugs coursing through his system). The effect is quite unlike any other track in the CSN canon and I'm still not sure, several hundred playings across several decades later, whether it works or not. Is this a song riddled with errors that could have been so much better? Or is it a highly clever song that, perhaps even subconsciously, is trying to sabotage itself so that we don't read it at face value? That would certainly be in keeping with this most coded and 'locked' of CSN albums and yet I still think the truth might be simpler - that this is the moment when, asked to write a happy song to go with a largely happy tune, Crosby realises that the drugs have taken hold so much he can't quite remember what being 'happy' is anymore and that drugs are the closest thing he has. There'll be oh so much of this sort of thing coming, with Crosby part of only two more albums in the next eight years before his prison sentence, so soon after these heady days when he was making two inside a year...

Overall, then, 'Whistling Down The Wire' is an odd album, less immediate and easy going than it's hit predecessor and clearly in places nowhere near as good. However sometimes an evil twin is only a twin because it's misunderstood and so, I feel, is the case with 'Whistling Down The Wire' which is working to a whole different set of rules than any other CSNY album. Coded songs about the band's core split in 1976, coded songs about drug addiction and coded songs about the romance Nash isn't sure he wants the world to know about yet (following the high profile loss of first Joni Mitchell then Amy Gossage). The open and free 1969 debut this certainly isn't and the change isn't always for the best - it feels like there's a slight barrier sometimes between artist and fan here which Crosby/Nash never do otherwise (though Stills' grows thicker and thicker with each album from around this point on). As a one-off though, an oddity in a shelf of albums that work to a different value systems, this is enjoyable enough and even occasionally great when Crosby resurrects a missing classic or Nash gets inspired to write about band or girlfriend. A telegram sent out to fans without fuss or any real promotion, the biggest failure of 'Whistling Down The Wire' might be the lack of communication we've had about this album, which remains one of the least discussed CSN-related records and could have done with just a few pointers at the time to make fans interested in it more and to realise that there was something here worth digging for. I'm not sure, even with some of the clues now marked out for me, as if this is a long lost treasure and 'Wire' remains, even after rehabilitation, the weakest of Nash's and especially Crosby's work in the 1970s. But given the strength of the competition that's not as much of a fall as many reviewers and fans will let on, with an evil twin who turns out to be not that evil after all and a broken bird that's not all that cracked really, just a bit misunderstood and in the need of a hug. 

A Now Complete List Of CSN/Y and Solo Articles Available To Read At Alan’s Album Archives:

'Crosby, Stills and Nash' (1969)

'Deja Vu' (CSNY) (1970)

‘Stephen Stills’ (1970)

'If Only I Could Remember My Name' (Crosby) (1971)

'Songs For Beginners' (Nash) (1971)

'Stephen Stills II' (1971)
‘Graham Nash, David Crosby’ (1972)

'Stephen Stills-Manassas'  (1972)

'Wild Tales' (Nash) (1973)
'Down The Road' (Stephen Stills/Manassas) (1973)

'Stills' (1975)

'Wind On The Water' (Crosby-Nash) (1975)
'Illegal Stills' (Stills) (1976)
'Whistling Down The Wire' (Crosby-Nash) (1976)

'Long May You Run' (Stills-Young) (1976)

'CSN' (1977)
'Thoroughfare Gap' (Stills) (1978)
'Earth and Sky' (Nash) (1980)

'Daylight Again' (CSN) (1982)
'Right By You' (Stills) (1984)
'Innocent Eyes' (Nash) (1986)
'American Dream' (CSNY) (1988)

'Oh Yes I Can!' (Crosby) (1989)

'Live It Up!' (CSN)  (1989)

'Stephen Stills Alone' (1991)

'CPR' (Crosby Band) (1998)

‘So Like Gravity (CPR, 2001)

‘Songs For Survivors’ (2002)

'Deja Vu Live' (CD) (2008)

'Deja Vu Live' (DVD) (2008)

'Reflections' (Graham Nash Box Set) (2009)

'Demos' (CSN) (2009)

'Manassas: Pieces' (2010)

‘Carry On’ (Stephen Stills Box Set) (2013)

'Croz' (Crosby) (2014)
'CSNY 74' (Recorded 1974 Released 2014)

'This Path Tonight' (Nash) (2016)

‘Here If You Listen’ (Crosby)

The Best Unreleased CSNY Recordings
Surviving TV Appearances (1969-2009)
Non-Album Recordings (1962-2009)
Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums Part One (1964-1980)
Live/Compilations/Rarities Albums Part Two (1982-2012)
Essay: The Superest Of Super Groups?
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Versions

John Lennon: Surviving TV Clips 1968-1980

You can buy 'Remember - The Alan's Album Archives Guide To The Music Of John Lennon and Yoko Ono' in e-book form by clicking here!

All we are saying is give our Lennon Youtube playlist a chance! Now up and running at

In between the world keeping you doped with religion and sex and TV and in between the times when there is nothin' on anyway (summer repeats!) every so often there'll be an AAA appearance too good to miss. This is the fourteenth occasion when we've looked at all of the surviving clips by our range of artists and it should come as no surprise that John Lennon in particular really understood the importance of the visual medium in representing music. After all many people's introduction to The Beatles had come through their films or the Ed Sullivan Show - we've already covered the ins and outs of The Beatles' surviving teleography a few articles back. Lennon wasn't around for anywhere near as long in his solo years as he was around as a Beatle - a mere six years before his house-husband phase - and it would have been fascinating to know what he might have made of the developments that came along after he died: MTV, deeper chat shows, satellite concerts, global charity events...Even so, this is list is a good one and considering how few years it covers a surprisingly long one too.

Thankfully the Lennon archives are a lot more complete than the Beatles ones are. Television companies were less likely to chuck stuff out once we hit the 'colour' years (which in Europe at least more or less coincide with The Beatles' split) and TV stations have learnt that the 1960s pop phenomenon is one that isn't going away any time soon. The other good news is that a lot of these clips have seen the light of day on various videos and DVDs down the years too - recycled in things like the 'Imagine' documentary, the 'US v John Lennon' documentary, the music video compilation 'Lennon Legend' and a Dick Cavett Show special dedicated wholly to John and Yoko's two appearances. We've decided to skip on this list any TV or film appearance which exists 'complete' by the way (hopefully all that is dealt with in our 'DVD' section) so the 'Sweet Toronto' and 'Live In New York City Shows' aren't here for instance. Oh and we've also stuck to the releases made in Lennon's lifetime - so we've missed out the rather charming posthumous music videos to 'Milk and Honey' or the ones made especially for the 'Lennon Legend' LP (so everything here was 'okayed' by Lennon at one time or another, even if some of the 'Double Fantasy' videos were only discussed or works in progress). We've also decided to skip John and Yoko's avant garde films because, well, I'm not sure I can face 75 minutes of John smiling in slow motion or an endless parade of celebrities baring their bottoms so TV (and the occasional film recording) that are 'broadcastable' it is. Do bear in mind also that this book starts when Lennon's solo career does (kind of) back in 1968 and his first on-screen appearance with Yoko rather than solo performance when he was still a Beatle (not that there are many - simply two 'Not Only But Also' sketches with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore' which are even more 1960s than 'A Hard Day's Night' or 'Magical Mystery Tour'!) Note too that I've only covered footage that absolutely definitively positively exists - footage that I've seen with my own eyes as opposed to simply reading about - it could well be that there are still other Lennon clips out there waiting to be re-discovered or that I simply haven't found, so this list is in no way definitive (though we've given it a blooming good go - do write in if there's something you think we've missed). Even with all those caveats, however, that still leaves an awful lot, including an awful lot of relatively rare and unseen material that's currently unavailable though - the John Sinclair and Ann Arbor rallies, a controversial decision to make Lennon the only musician nominated for the 1969 programme 'man of the decade'  and a quite staggering amount of chat show appearances. Lennon really did have a lot to say, especially during his early solo years, and usually said it well, with or without Yoko alongside him. Sadly many of the items here are still officially unavailable but don'tworry don'tworry don'tworry - you can still view many of them for free at our especially compiled Youtube video playlist ( - simply have a look down our playlists until you get to the one marked Lennon (we'll try and keep it as updated as we can but do bear in mind that videos comes and go on Youtube all the time so we can't 100% guarantee that they'll always be there!) Anyway hopefully they'll be out officially one day too - all we are saying is give these TV clips a chance!...

1) Frost On Saturday (UK TV August 1968)

'Art is just a tag like a journalists' tag, only artist's believe it'. David Frost's slightly staid and formal style doesn't seem the natural mix for John and Yoko's style and Lennon - looking like a moving version of his 'White Album' photo - does indeed get rather defensive over the course of this interview. However Lennon clearly enjoyed appearing on this chat show as he appeared  on three separate editions hosted by Frost (all with slightly different names) as a solo act and once as a Beatle earlier in the year. Ignorant as the host is (or pretends to be) he does at least give John and Yoko the chance to speak with a full twenty minutes given over to the pair's closing spot. Most of this first show - the first time many of the public would have heard Yoko speak - was to publicise their early art events together. Lennon offers Frost a badge reading 'You Are Here' - the title of a Lennon-sponsored Ono art exhibit and a title he'll use for a 1973 song. The concept is that everything is 'here' right now and everything is art, Lennon arguing that to a child without preconceived ideas a broken cup is as good as a piece of sculpture - Frost quipping that 'I'm not entirely sure whether I'm here!' John and Yoko also show their new film 'Smile' (well an extract from it - the full film would have taken the whole series if shown complete!) John  also says that he filmed people's re-action to his exhibits as another exhibit - what happened to that priceless footage?! The audience clearly think Lennon is mad but as ever he has quite a few excellent points - people stare at blank paintings of one expression so why not a slowly moving film of a face with all the facial ticks people don't usually notice. Frost then confuses Lennon with the Beach Boys and asks him to explain 'vibrations'. Lennon invites the TV audience to hammer a nail into a board and even smoothes down the audience member's collar. 'Roll up!' says Lennon, 'It was really unbeliveable!' says a second audience member with heavy irony, 'I've learnt a lot from John' adds Yoko. John talks about how the pair met an Indica Art Gallery and how 'embarrassing it is being a Beatle walking into a gallery - getting bounced on like I'm a rich Texan!' Most interestingly of all, John then talks about enjoying imaginary things in his childhood, of thinking of doing things being as good as doing them and the state between dreaming and being awake (he ought to get together with Ray Davies!) Asked for a summary Lennon says 'we try and explain ourselves but we're not very articulate' before Yoko adds 'all we have to do is communicate - this is a way of touching each other'. The show then fades out to the sound of 'Hey Jude's 'na na na's,leading Lennon to conduct the room!

2) Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (UK TV Unscreened 'Yer Blues' 'Whole Lotta Yoko' December 1968)

Despite what was being written in the press, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were closer to being friends than bitter enemies - despite a few ups and downs over the years The Beatles had plugged their rivals a lot in the early days and the Stones tended to be fond of their competitors rather than sneering like they were with every other band. The Beatles were among the guests invites to the Stones' own version of 'Magical Mystery Tour', filmed inside a circus tent a year later with circus acts and guest stars including The Who filmed throughout the day before the Stones took to the stage at night (legend has it their gig is awful, after a technical issue delayed filming until the early hours when the band had been up well over 24 hours and they are a tad sluggish on the whole, but in Mick Jagger's case at least it's the single best concert he ever gave). Many of the guests appeared in cameo roles before their big performance, including John and Mick introducing The Who (Jagger: 'I'm sorry we've not gotten together as often as I'd like' John: 'Well, it's not been my fault Michael!') Lennon, eating some chop suey while the talk, hands Jagger his plate as if expecting him to clean up! Outtakes feature an understandably nervous Julian Lennon, then aged five, surrounded by the band that for so many came to personify evil, fellow wholigans The Who and his soon-to-be-step mum Yoko whose dressed as a witch. He probably still has nightmare flashbacks about it now. As for JohnandYoko's performance, they're part of a 'supergroup' billed 'The Dirty Mac' with Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell at the back and Cream and soon to be Plastic Ono Band guitarist Eric Clapton up front. Struggling to find a suitable bassist Bill Wyman was all set to play, before Keith Richards muscled in - he's not half the bass player his colleague is although he has a nice McCartney feel on their first number 'Yer Blues', then a brand new song from a barely released 'White Album'. Lennon probably chose it because it was simple and sounded a lot like the bluesier sounds Clapton was known for. The band are then joined by violinist Ivry Gritlis for a slightly lighter 'Don't Worry Kyoko' style jam wittily renamed by the Stones 'A Whole Lotta Yoko'. Gritlis gets the giggles but John and Yoko are awfully serious given that they're dressed as a clown and a witch. After all that, the Stones got cold feet, Brian Jones (on his last legs throughout the show) died soon after and the entire show went unseen until 1997 (apart from The Who's terrific performance of 'A Quick One' which Lennon himself can be heard attempting to sing on the 'Let It Be Sessions' a month later- legend has it the Stones felt they'd been 'upstaged' by their London cousins). However the show was a useful one for Lennon for many reasons - it proved he could play live outside The Beatles, it introduced Yoko to the public by demonstrating they were an 'item' and it introduced him to director Michael Lindsey-Hogg who'd just been hired to direct what became 'Let It Be'. The show came out on DVD in 2003 - and very good it is too, coming at the bottom end of our 'top ten classic AAA DVDs' column a few years ago.

3) Bed-In (Most Countries March 1969)

The Lennons were passionate film-makers and recorded everything between 1969 and 1971, whether it was important or mundane. Clearly their honeymoon in the Amsterdam Hilton and their second in Montreal  was special to them and they hired film-makers to record as much of it as they could - four minutes of which became the basis for the 'Give Peace A Chance' video and some 80 being edited together for the 'Year Of Peace' DVD of 2009 (though some copies - mine included - refer to it simply as 'Bed-In'); an earlier edit 'Bed Peace' was made available in full on Youtube for free by Yoko herself to promote 'peace'. Most of the footage is mute and what isn't consists of the pair ordering room service and making unmiked conversation, but there are some special moments - JohnandYoko actually making the banners that have since become so famous from all the photographs, almost the entire press conference that took place while John and Yoko are in bed lying down, meeting Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau (whose wary, but interested), playing 'mind games' with cartoonist Al Capp (they can't decide whether he's on their side or not - neither can I), spending time with a 14-year-old fan who'd sneaked in to do a piece for his local school paper (and whom Lennon is clearly fond of, refusing to send him out) and the infamous showdown with a Gloria Emersen ('Sorry if you liked the moptops and you thought I was witty and satirical and you enjoyed A Hard Day's Night' but I've grown up - you obviously haven't!) depending what edit of this film you have.  A fascinating historical document, although like many home videos you may feel like skipping long passages of it and not everything JohnandYoko did was worth filming.

4) David Frost Show (UK TV June 1969)

'It's just a diary of what's going on - on one side of the record I'm having a miscarriage and on the other I'm being arrested!' More from The Frost Show and this time it's a gone and been in colour (green!) Lennon has gown a beard and appears in the white suit he wore the same month for the front cover of 'Abbey Road'. Lennon is keen to get moving and even before being introduced is hurling acorns out of a plastic bag at the audience for 'peace week' ('come on front row cheer up now, I know you've been here all day!') Alas the idea given by Lennon is that 'we hope we live long enough to see them grow' - Lennon won't . JohnandYoko hand the host a 'box of smiles' and Lennon growls to the audience 'he'll probably throw it away after!' - it turns out to be a mirror and Frost is duly pleased by what he sees staring back at him ('Thought you'd like it!' laughs Lennon). John describes Yoko's work as 'pure and simple and white' and says that the 'Two Virgins' cover was originally a solo Yoko album with just her naked, adding that he 'didn't know' the problems it would cause but that despite it all he's 'rather pleased'. John talks about longing for their art to 'break down barriers' and 'share what we've experienced with everyone else we can communicate with and we're not hiding anything as best we can - so why are you so frightened?' The pair then talk about their new avant garde album 'Life With The Lions' ('This'll get you!' jokes Lennon). John jokes 'I'm not saying you're old, David, but if you were twelve you'd really get into it!' Frost digs deeper, asking the pair 'what do you want to do next?' Lennon answers straight away 'Have peace!' 'We've been conditioned to belief that war is inevitable and man is a violent animal that always kills things - I've been told it's too simple but what is too simple about me not killing you now? We've got to start somewhere!" John adds that had Hitler grown up in an environment of peace he might not have turned into a monster - that if we had constant peace everywhere at all times and it was the norm we might not have 'lots of Hitlers', adding carefully that Germany was a manifestation of the world's violence, not the countries'. Lennon adds 'they're only people in Government - they're the people we chose because we're so insecure we don't believe we can manage our own system'. Frost, after another twenty minutes of playing devil's advocate, is moved to tell them that they're both 'wonderful preachers'. It's one of JohnandYoko's better interviews.

5) 24 Hours - The World Of John and Yoko (UK TV December 1969)

'You're not insecure if you're busy working!' You may recognise much of this thirty-five documentary from the 1988 'Imagine' documentary, but it's interesting to see the 'original' edit of a BBC documentary about the pair's early days together. We're 'meant' to be following JohnandYoko around as they film 'Apotheosis' but it doesn't quite work out like that - the 'plan' is to have John and Yoko in a hot air balloon letting model balloons out over the city, but the pair are in a foul mood, arguing with each other about how many to buy and getting impatient when the weather is too bad to put their plan into action (the more successful bits of footage will be put together by Yoko for the posthumous music video 'Mind Games', along with footage of the Indica Gallery where the pair met). They also just love talking too much, especially to the cameras and especially in bed, which is a neat precursor of what will happen in the 'honeymoon bed-in'. Lennon talks about how there are four of them writing songs now ('Usually George lost out because Paul and I were tougher)', reads out damning letters about himself sending back his MBE ('He makes an ass of himself!') and compares advertising peace to Coca-Cola ('they've got a few years on us so it's going to take a bit of time!') Lennon also joked about a pair of fakes who are going round using their name at hotels and charging it to Apple's account - he seems impressed rather than angry! More heartbreaking is Lennon's comments when asked his thoughts on death: 'I hope we die together - our worst fear would be one of us dying before the other!' We then end with the abandoned 'Laugh Piece', originally intended as the B-side of planned Plastyic Ono Band single 'You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)' in which John and Yoko and a sea of friends wear false rubbers and lounge about Abbey Road laughing.

6) Man Of The Decade (UK TV December 1969)

'The establishment know how to beat people up, they have the arms and the equipment, and the escape was that the kids tried to take them on at their game'. ATV celebrated the end of the 1960s with a special programme detailing the lives of three people they felt had changed it. Clearly a musician had to be in there somewhere and inevitably nominator leading zoologist and broadcaster Dr Desmond Morris chose a Beatle - but the choice of Lennon alone proved to be a controversial choice. The year 1969 was full of a backlash against JohnandYoko as the 'world's clowns' making avant garde music and the episode received a huge number of complaints - some from Beatle haters who didn't understand why Lennon was chosen alongside JFK and Ho Cho Minh and others from Beatle fans asking why Paul and George weren't the other two. While the world leaders couldn't be interviewed Lennon was only too proud and pleased to talk, walking around his Scot garden, but used his vocal showcase as another debate about world politics and the stupidity of war. 'Don't be hassled by the cops and play their games, no cause is worth being killed for' is John's comment, which is a cruel irony given what will happen a few short months past the end of the next decade. Lennon compares himself to Mick Jagger down south and Eric Brudon up North and 'that we all discovered simultaneously that what the establishment was trying to do wasn't worth a damn'. Lennon is particularly proud of Woodstock ('nobody had an army that size that didn't do anything - even Beatles concerts were more violent than that!') The programme begins with a then-rare clip of 'Shea Stadium'.

7) Give Peace A Chance (Music Video 1969)

Lennon was the first Beatle to put together a music video, back when he was still technically in the band. Using highlights of the bed-in footage filmed at the couple's 'second' honeymoon at Montreal, 'Give Peace A Chance' is mainly taken from the gigantic singalong that took place. A whole sea of people took part in the chorus including the Canadian branch of the Radna Krishna Temple group, fifty fans who'd travelled to see John and Yoko and were invited to appear, Petula Clark and half of the Smothers Brothers comedy act (also staying at the hotel), press officer Derek Taylor and Yoko's daughter Kyoko, strumming along on a plastic guitar. The performance is priceless, Lennon trying to urge everyone in the room to singalong and everyone at home to understand 'peace' and one of JohnandYoko's better mini-films.  One question though: what on earth did they make of all this in the next door suite? Like all the music videos on this list, 'Give Peace A Chance' appears o the DVD 'Lennon Legend', alongside some posthumous clips Yoko put together for the hit singles that were 'missing' their own video (curiously Lennon seems to have given up making them after 'Imagine')

8) Cold Turkey (Music Video 1969)

'Cold Turkey' was a very different sort of single and called for a different kind of video. A sped up montage of shots of London put together by Lennon, it features several of his characteristic touches - pulling back from the madness to the word 'love' written on a billboard and featuring yet more clips from the bed-in. The video has somewhat less to do with Lennon though and isn't quite as successful as 'Peace'

9) Power To The People (Music Video 1970)

Though remixed and re-edited for almost every passing re-issue and Lennon best-of, the gist of every incarnation of 'Power To The People' stays the same. John and Yoko looking moody as they walk down American streets singing down mega-phones intercut with footage of whatever war happened to be the last one. The song works a lot better in the visual format than it does on record, actually, as it's a song that was always intended to shock without having much in the lyrics to actually shock with - it's all in the images of the videos instead.

10) Top Of The Pops ('Instant Karma' February 1970)

None of the four Beatles had returned in person to the 'Top Of The Pops' studios since performing 'Paperback Writer' back in 1966. Lennon was the first to break the fast after a five year absence and turned in an energetic and memorable performance of his third single, which as luck would have it is one of the few surviving clips by anybody in the TOTP archives that year. Throughout Yoko sits on a chair blindfolded holding up signs while Lennon taps into his inner mojo and seems to be enjoying himself a lot.

11) Imagine: Home Footage (c.1971)

There's literally hours of this stuff, all taped by John and Yoko across 1971 where for months they recorded pretty much everything (and I mean everything - though not quite the kitchen sink we do see Lennon in the bath and even on the loo). Quite a lot of this footage was merged with the '24 Hours' and various modern interviews to create the 'Imagine' film of 1988, while confusing much of this footage also found its way into the 'classic albums' series documentary on the album 'Imagine'. Apparently many hundred hours more are still in Yoko's collection unseen - which makes you wonder what on earth must be on those given the comparatively small amount of releasable footage here. Even so there are some fascinating moments: the 'Imagine' video only made famous after Lennon's death, John recording the lead vocal to 'Jealous Guy', John and Yoko ordering and helping to erect an entirely new building over on an island on their Ascot house and looking more natural than normal around an eight-year-old Julian staying with his dad and some school friends. It's terrific stuff in parts this footage and deserves a fuller DVD release with some of the unseen material sometime - our greatest chance to see John and Yoko 'human' as even though they know the cameras are there they've clearly got used to them by the end of the experiment. They might well have carried on shooting had the Kyoko abduction and deportation hassles in America not taken up so much of their time - as it is the busy year of 1971 is perhaps the most fully filmed year of any AAA member.

12) Imagine (Music Video 1971)

Perhaps the most famous clip on this list, this music video went largely unseen until Lennon's death (in the UK at least this song was never a single until Lennon's death so there was little call for the song to be used). The footage of John at his white piano while Yoko opens the shutters in the room was instead shot for a 'making of' for the album 'Imagine' that was largely abandoned until the 'Imagine' documentary of 1988 after Lennon's death where shown in full it was quickly greeted as the highlight and has always 'felt' as if it should have been a proper part of the Lennon visual canon. As simple and yet profound as the song itself, it's one of the better combinations of music and visuals as we see inside Lennon's Ascot home.

13) Jealous Guy (Music Video 1971)

Another music video put together from the 'making of Imagine' documentary - everything John and Yoko did in 1971 was filmed inside the studio and back home, including this footage of Lennon trying to sing the lead vocal to the song, intercut with some older footage. Lennon acts casual, chewing gum throughout, but he's not fooling anyone with the passion in his voice as he sings. Look out for the moment when he accidentally knocks the lyric sheet on a stand over and instantly goes from effortless cool to clumsy fool in the space of a second - it's nice to see even Lennon was only 'human' and that this footage was kept in for this of all songs, the one where Lennon is most 'human'.

14) Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (Music Video 1971)

Another video that keeps changing with the years, with Yoko sending out new edits with footage of newer wars with every yuletide re-issue. The original is by far the best, however, with more footage of John and pictures of refugees from Vietnam and Korea. We also see schoolchildren of all races colours and belief systems singing together, which is usually corny but works rather well in context, mixed in with pictures of the famous JohnandYoko billboards advertising 'war is over (if you want it)'.

15) Live At The Filmore (Unscreened June 1971)

Well (Baby Please Don't Go)/ Jamrag/Scumbag/Au. If you're brave enough, there's a whole twenty-five minutes of visuals to go with the John/Yoko/Frank Zappa performance released as side four of 'Sometime In New York City'. Alas the show only exists in grotty quality filmed by a member of the audience, but it's still worth watching for the interactions between two very different musical giants of their day. The crowd is Zappa's by the way, with JohnandYoko his unbilled guests, but they seem most at home on the Filmore stage and simply walk on and talk to the crowd as if it was one of their gigs. The show seems even more ramshackle in this mix with much more Yoko. 'Well' ends much more violently in this version with Zappa directing them to a stop and Lennon doing Monkee-style jumps with each punctuated wail and adding a few extra 'scumbag, baby, scumbag!'s into the improvisation cut from the record. All in all it sounds much more like the Zappa mix of the record as released as 'Playground Pyshcotics' - Lennon's is better and certainly the livelier. Still, nice to see it as well as hear it - this would make a nice bonus to a 'Sometime In NYC' re-issue one day if it could be cleaned up.

16) Michael Parkinson Show (July 1971) 
A bit of an oddball show where Parky (as Brits called the perennial chat show host - who later featured on Wings' 'Band On The Riun' front cover) tries to interview JohnandYoko about all sorts of serious subjects but they insist on talking from within a giant polythene bag. 'But you could be anyone!' says Parky, perhaps not getting the whole idea that 'bagism' is to stop prejudice because you can't judge a person by their race, gender or looks. Even by Lennon standards he gets defensive, fast, when Parky asks him about how the pair's antics have 'alienated' them from the general public. 'We don't mind being criticised for our art but the British press was actually calling Yoko ugly and I've never seen that about any woman or man. She's not ugly and if she was you wouldn't be so mean. I've seen people write the most attractive things about the most awful people just to be kind!' The pair didn't play anything at this show, unusually.

17) Dick Cavett Show #1 (US TV September 1971)

'Is Mr Lennon putting me on?' Another old friend makes a return appearance on this list, a year after his four interviews with Janis Joplin and a few others with CSN and Jefferson Airplane. Cavett was always one of the braver broadcasters around and by the time of the pair's second appearance this was the only show not to censor the pair's new single 'Woman Is The Nigger Of The World' (although Cavett still has to give a prior 'warning', which he's clearly uncomfortable doing). John and Yoko are dressed in the 'military gear' they wore on the 'Power To The People' single. The three had met previously 'in a dingy hotel room' leading to Cavett to quip 'I thought you were Jack Lennon' and a quick comeback 'I thought you were Fred Astaire!' Lennon is clearly a fan - when asked if there were similar shows to Cavett's round the world John says 'not as good as this one, not quite as free...we only have two channels over there' and they've been showing the same old faces since I was ten!' Yoko adds that she's 'getting used to it' and prefers it to Japanese TV now. This is an interesting conversation, with both admitting to 'turning quite fascist' as they try to prove whether England or Japan is the greater nation ('But we brought you penicillin and radar!') We also find out that US journalist Betty Rollin was a classmate of Yoko's but stabbed her in the back with a vicious article (John is more bitter than she is). Cavett adds that she once described him as 'delicious' - Lennon's comment is 'she must be on some sort of pill'. Lennon goes on to talk about his favourite teachers - 'it was always science and maths as if they don't want artists, even at art school they tried to turn me into a teacher' and quotes his favourite illustrators as Lewis Carroll, Thurber and Ronald Searle. We finally move on to the thorny issue of the break up with Yoko saying 'well it turned out alright' and John saying that 'if Yoko did cause the break-up then perhaps she ought to get the credit for all the great music all four of us have made since'. Along the way we also get rare clips of Yoko's film 'Fly' ('it was just getting interesting but you cut it because we're on TV you know'). Perhaps the best JohnandYoko interview, certainly the longest, this is a must-see for all Lennon films with the pair in a funny, chatty mood.

18) Freetime (US TV October 1971)

'Why doesn't it rain?' 'But it does' 'Oh, good! Why is Fred Astaire?' 'Why do you answer every question with another question?' 'Why do we?' Effectively a press conference held to commemorate the 'You Are Here' exhibition, this is an odd way for Lennon to spend his 31st birthday. JohnandYoko take questions from the floor, but Lennon's in an icy mood and Yoko's being impenetrable so a shy audience are rather put-off asking. 'Why are you doing this?' somebody asks at one point but she doesn't get a reply. By JohnandYoko's standards this high art concept rather falls flat and the show comes to a sorrowful end after about six minutes. Best question, an informed Lennon fan turning the tables on the star and asking 'how do you sleep?' in reference to a track from the Imagine album. Lennon's answer: mimed snoring!

19) Ten For Two - The Sinclair Rally (US Concert December 1971)

Attica State/Luck Of The Irish/Sisters O Sisters/John Sinclair. Another rally from a busy month held especially to free John Sinclair, a drug user locked up for ten years for having just two marijuana spliffs with him (the same charge would have got him a minor fine just a few miles away across the border!) The event was a big occasion with lots of other New York Performers, most of whom appear on the Lennon's 'Sometime In New York City' album. The rally was a big success, with Sinclair freed within 24 hours of the show - officially the rally was just a 'coincidence' but JohnandYoko always doubted that. Fragments of audio from this show (specifically 'John Sinclair' and Lennon's speech about how 'apathy didn't work, so what? We start again!') appeared later on the 'Lennon Anthology'.. John introduces 'Attica State' by saying 'it was written on me birthday' which is a snippet of detail we've not heard elsewhere (the riot happened a full month before Lennon's birthday on September 9th though - and we know from the record how in touch JohnandYoko were with the news in this period). This is a very tentative performance, the audience are noisy and restless and the equipment is feedbacking a lot which makes these acoustic performances a bit of a slog to be honest. A slowed down 'Sisters O Sisters' sounds particularly good, with John singing very audible harmony vocals alongside his wife.  I'm intrigued where this show comes from - as far as I know it was never broadcast but seems to have filmed professionally, with lots of great Lennon close-ups you don't get at other Lennon rallies. Was this filmed for the pair's own archives? Again this would make a fine extra on a 'Sometime In New York City' DVD.

20) David Frost Show (UK TV December 1971)

John and Yoko's last appearance on a David Frost show was their last ever British TV appearance for some four years - and their last in the UK as a couple. The pair have in fact travelled back from New York especially to do it, bringing New York guest David Peel with them. The show opens with Peel's 'John Lennon, Yoko Ono' as played by his ten-piece band which must have cost a lot of air-fares! Unusually Yoko appears solo at first and gives Frost a new-improved 'box of smile' with a mirror stuck to the bottom this time. Yoko talks about her first art concept - that if every seed from round the world were planted together it would show togetherness and actually got her elder friend to write to the Japanese president about it but never got a reply (only Yoko would think this in her pre-school years!) Yoko thought while young that 'I'm going to change the world - but sadly nothing seemed to happen'. Yoko talks about what drives her, of having a 'secret' that only a few other people have and then discusses the pair's recent political work and how thrilled she was to see drug sentencee John Sinclair released partly after their intervention. After twenty minutes Lennon arrives to perform an acoustic version of 'Attica State' with Yoko and David Peel's band. It sounds rather good actually sung with more gusto than the version on 'Sometime In New York City'. Two hecklers interrupt with a line about 'glorifying prisoners' and Lennon invites them down to talk. 'I agree that Attica State was a tragedy but you're making it sound as if only prisoners matter and are now martyrs!' an angry woman adds 'you're saying that no one was responsible for this but if the prisoners hadn't striked it wouldn't have happened! What if they'd murdered your husband or wife or mother or father?' Her husband adds 'if they hadn't done anything wrong they wouldn't have been there!' Lennon gets on his high horse, saying that 'we're all responsible for societies so we're all responsible and we have to tell people what's going on in England - we're just reporters!' Frost butts in while things are getting heated and all but pleads with JohnandYoko to sing something else - though the equally controversial 'Luck Of The Irish' probably isn't what he had in mind! Lennon says that he appears at rallies because he cares and isn't in an ivory tower - the hecklers challenge him to walk through these towns at two in the morning and add that 'I'm in a prison because I'm afraid - you will not solve it with love and kisses! What about the guards?' 'I mourn the guards too - I don't want anybody to die!' says Lennon and then speaks about how so many of those locked up aren't really prisoners - that being in jail turns them into criminals. An angry Lennon then asks to sing another song and reprises 'Attica State' to the glares from their hecklers! Another fascinating clip which probably emphasised how out of touch the pair felt England to be with their political views.

21) Pop 2 (Swedish TV January 1972)

'Flower power didn't work? It's only the beginning of evolution and they're all apathetic because they're young! From America it will spread to the rest of the world! Le Vivre La Revolution!' I'd never even heard of this Swedish pop show before starting these books but here it is again with its seventh AAA appearance!  Filmed during JohnandYoko's rather busy season in December 1971 and broadcast the following month it follows the pair rehearsing their 'unplugged' show with great home versions of 'Attica State' performed by just John and Yoko and a guitar (they should have done it like this on the record, even with Lennon 'forgetting' the last verse!) A wired John (whose either on drugs or having problems sleeping) talks about the pair's new single 'Happy Xmas' (though the single was released so late in the year most fans won't get hold of a copy till 1972) and how sick he is of 'hearing 'White Christmas' by Bing Crosby'. Interestingly Lennon also talks about a live album that never happened - what turned out to be side four of 'Sometime In New York City' with Frank Zappa was originally part of a charity live LP with The Who and Delaney and Bonnie. They also talk about John Sinclair ('all money will go to prisoners or poor people). Along the way clips are shown of the 'Imagine' video and the Toronto 'Give Peace A Chance' and 'Cold Turkey', which must have been a thrill back in the days before home video for fans who hadn't got to the cinema yet. Perhaps the most interesting point comes near the end where Lennon, like so many others before him, completely misunderstands The Rolling Stones' 'Street Fighting Man' (about why England is too 'sleepy' for revolution) and leers into the camera 'So you're a street fighting man, Mick? Come on and fight then - but not with me, I'm for peace!' Asked what musicians interest him Lennon says Elvis still does, surprisingly. He then talks about the change in styles from 'Plastic Ono Band' and 'Imagine' - this is the source of Lennon's famous quote about them being 'the same songs but with sugar on them' and adds that he was 'tired of my songs being banned!' As usual with 'Pop2' the local broadcaster translates noisily over the interview - he has great problems keeping up with an on-form gabbling Lennon! - which makes it a pain to hear, but thankfully keeps quite during the songs.

22) Mike Douglas Show (US TV February 1972)

'Everyone's an artist! Who tells you you aren't you know? Some teacher at school!' Meanwhile back in the States John and Yoko are co-hosting the Michael Douglas show and even introduce him to the stage. The host insists on singing 'Michelle', badly - Lennon tells him for singing a McCartney song but adds 'at least it's not Yesterday which is what they always sing - I did write the middle eight on that one!' Yoko is happier here than John - she appeared solo in 1971 to promote 'Fly' and 'gets' the more in-your-face American humour more - but Lennon still offers  a few nuggets of wisdom and Douglas is a patient, genuinely interested host. Lennon says he's not worried about being asked the same questions over and over as 'not everyone hears it when you say it'. Yoko says that the current mood is 'pessimistic' but she thinks the future will be 'beautiful'. Lennon admits to being 'terrified' of Jerry Rubin and Frank Zappa when he met them both because of their 'image' and that people probably think the same about them. John goes on to say that 'rituals slow the world down', that theirs is a 'mind marriage - our minds met before our bodies' and how he loves his fans but is tired of waiters being so star-struck they don't listen to his order! JohnandYoko are first on but unusually stay for the chats with the other guests composer Joseph Harnell, actress Barbara Loden and the pair's old friend activist Jerry Rubin.

23) Dick Cavett Show #2 (US TV 'Woman Is The Nigger Of The World' May 1972)

JohnandYoko's return appearance isn't quite up there with their first - the immigration hassle is first most in their minds so they don't talk about much else -  but it's still an interesting show that fills in much detail on this fascinating period. This time the pair are on second after actress Shirley Maclaine. Lennon jokes that a 'McCarthy' badge Maclaine is wearing (the running mate of Nixon) actually says 'McCartney'. Lennon talks about his love for malted milk drinks, that British milkshakes are 'lousy...plastic stuff' and is amazed to get a round of applause for 'not liking cheeseburgers anymore'. John talks about Kyoko's abduction, winning the court case to have custody (getting a one-day pass through immigration) and not knowing when it will be all over because they don't know where Yoko's daughter is (they were hiding at 'The Walk', a religious sect also known as The Living Word Fellowship', probably in California). The immigration office thought the dragging court case was an 'excuse' and while Yoko could stay Lennon had to go - leaving Yoko to choose between her husband and her daughter. :Lennon adds that he's now become 'one of those New York converts'.  The pair then perform 'Woman Is The Nigger Of The World' with an uncomfortable warning from Cavett taped a week later 'as the only alternative to NBC cancelling the show'. Lennon adds 'some people were put off by it but they were usually white and male' and adds his black friends are 'behind' him. Lennon quotes Ron Delham, chairman of the Black Caucaus, 'If you define nigger as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others...then good news, you don't have to be black to be a nigger in society, most of Americans are niggers' ('Oh my goodness, we'll never get in now!' Lennon adds jokingly after finding out Delham is a democrat). The performance, backed by a stripped down Elephant's Memory, is a good one - one of only two occasions when Lennon played this and it's sung with more gusto than the version on 'Live In New York City', followed by a slightly less impressive 'We're All Water' that never quite hits the groove. Both Lennon Cavett interviews are available on the DVD 'John and Yoko: The Complete Shows'.

24) Jerry Lewis Telethon (US TV September 1972)

Comedian Jerry Lewis held charity telethons raising money for muscular dystrophy every year from 1966 until 2011. They're kind of the American equivalent of Britain's 'comic relief' and 'children in need' events, but for a more specific cause and less pleading or laughs. The range of special guests is if anything much higher, however, including a rather scruffy looking unshaven John and a more pristine Yoko performing three songs: 'Imagine' and a rather odd reggae version of 'Give Peace A Chance' (which sounds more like Hot Chocolate's cover, their debut release which came out on Apple in 1969: childish!) To be honest the performances are rather sloppy by the pair's standards (well, it is Elephant's Memory!)  and Lennon gets rather angry at how little the audience are joining in. Much better is a rare live performance of 'Now Or Never' premiered ahead of Yoko's masterpiece 'Approximately Infinite Universe' and the only time she sang it with John (it's a very John song).

25) NBC's Today Show (US TV December 1974)

Another interesting interview, without any performances this time, but a tired and weary looking Lennon tires more easily and this rare interview from the 'Lost Weekend' period has it's moments. John talks about looking forward to going to see the last date of George's 'Dark Horse' tour ('See you Friday!') and refers to an abandoned documentary that 'will probably be called 'The Long and Winding Road' (actually George will object to the title and it will be re-named 'Anthology' in the 1990s). John sounds positive about a reunion and that only immigration hassles keep them apart. Lennon also jokes that all four Beatles are rising up the singles charts at the same time 'together but apart' and fits in a quick plug for 'Walls and Bridges'. Most unusually, Lennon is accompanied not by Yoko but by his lawyer Leon Wildes who tries to explain the Lennon's immigration case but is willing to admit that all this fuss about 'the most minor conviction you can have' and the fact that Sgt Pilcher later admitted the 1969 arrest was a fix makes the court case seem ridiculous! Lennon talks about the drug bust in more detail than normal, adding the detail that the policemen were coming in over the roof and banging on the window and that as everyone were in plain-clothes Lennon feared it was the mafia rather than the policeman. Lennon only pleaded guilty because he feared that Yoko would be deported and little realised the ramifications. Wildes is particularly damning on the English justice system as well he might be - no wonder Lennon left!

26) Old Grey Whistle Test (UK TV 'Slippin' and Slidin' 'Stand By Me' March 1975)

One of Lennon's best interviews, he's on terrific form when Bob Harris flies out all the way from sunny ol' England to interview him on the eve of the release of his 'Rock and Roll' album, greeting Harris like an old buddy and asking for the package he's asked for (Bath Oliver biscuits - what he says he misses most about his homeland!) Harris has said many times that this was his favourite moment from his decade long stint presenting OGWT (think today's Jools Holland programmes but with a presenter who actually likes music and musicians) and you can tell - Harris never looks emotional but this is close as he gets. As well as talking at length about the 'lost weekend' and his on/off relationship with Yoko, John talks about wanting to come to England soon and is the life and soul of the party after discovering the ongoing immigration case against him has been dropped. He even waves to Julian and tells his son he'll see him soon. However the highlight is not the talk for once but the music as Lennon performs live versions with his session band of the two best tracks from 'Rock and Roll' which suddenly have so much life about them without the awful gloss of the studio recordings. Lennon delivers 'Slippin' and Slidin' as if he's back to his teens, squealing out the words and adding a Buddy Holly hiccup, while he provides a real 'Lennon stare' down the camera for a passionate 'Stand By Me', clearly aimed for Yoko. A truly marvellous piece, you can see a shortened edit of the chat and the two songs on the 'OGWT' DVD 'Volumes One To Three' (volume one disc one to be exact)  while various bits and pieces get recycled on BBC4 compilations every so often. 

27) Grammy Awards 1975 (US TV March 1975)

'Which one of you is Ringo?' Against all the odds the Grammy awards saw John reunited with Paul! No not that Paul  - Paul Simon. The pair are joined by Andy Williams to hand out an award with a corny routine: Andy sticks in a few barbs about his own recently missing partner Claudine Longlet to whom he's just got divorced ('it started out with 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' and ended up with 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'!) 'So this is what dawn looks like?' a Lost Weekend eras Lennon gags. Nominees for best records include Elton John, Roberta Flack (who gets a 'yay yay!' from Lennon), Joni Mitchell, Olivia Newton John and Maria Muldarve - Olivia wins leading John to 'quip 'jolly good!' Whose up to accept the award on Olivia's behalf? Art Garfunkel! Paul quips 'I thought I told you to get back in the car', Art quips 'still writing Paul?' and John gets his own back by asking them when they're getting back together! 'He's so serious!' adds Lennon after Art's rather earnest acceptance speech, 'He is isn't he?' is Paul's heartfelt reply! Mad!

28) A Salute To Lew Grade ('Slippin' and Slidin' 'Imagine' UK TV April 1975)

Little did Lennon realise it, but his last appearance in Britain and his only one after receiving the 'green card' that allowed him to travel (which, would you believe it, was actually blue) was at the bottom of a bill celebrating the life of a TV entrepreneur Lennon didn't even like that much. Grade had, after all, sued Lennon over a publishing dispute when he became a chief stockholder in John and Paul's 'Northern Songs' company and probably undertook the show partly in a failed gesture to get a better publishing deal and perhaps to publicise the 'Rock and Roll' album he just had out. It's a strange performance though - Lennon's one off band were a local London group named 'Brothers of Mother Fuckers', but they could hardly be called that on TV so they're re-branded 'BoMF' instead. What's less well known is why the band are all wearing masks at the back of their heads - is this Lennon's comment on being two-faced (but is it about him or Sir Lew?) Lennon also appearsd in a bright red onesie, which is quite the rave nowadays but would have turned plenty of heads back in 1975. A lively but slippery 'Slippin' and Slidin' passes by much like the record, but a near acoustic  'Imagine' - though with Lennon relinquishing the piano part to the band while he plays guitar - is a strong performance performed with more emotion than the 'One To One/Live In NYC' show, the only other known live performance of Lennon's signature song. And with that Lennon retires from British TV forever. You may recognise the compere introducing Lennon - Irish comedian Dave Allen (this clip would have been better yet had he wished Lennon 'goodbye and may your Gods go with you!')

29) WFIL TV (US TV c. April 1975)

Lennon was lured out of retirement only twice, very early after his 'official' leave of absence, to help out a couple of old friends. The Beatles had befriended Lartry Kane when he was working as a reporter for a radio station - the band liked his company more than most so they tended to ask for him direct on the band's American tours and Lennon had a particular soft spot for his quick humour. Lennon bumped into his old friend by chance in 1975 and discovered he was working as a news anchor on a Extracts of this TV appearance were including in the fascinating book 'Lennon Revealed' by DJ Larry Kane. The two friends swapped notes and Lennon was invited down 'anytime' - he came without much warning and took over the station, unannounced, for a couple of hours - sadly with such little warning that few copies exist (and those that do are incomplete!) Safe in the knowledge that only a few local Amerixans are watching in the middle of the night, Lennon is back to his clowning best and when he finds the weather man's off sick Lennon asks to do it, delivering a unique weather reporyt that reads like something from 'In His Own Write' (Together the weather will be muggy, followed by tuggy, wuggy and thuggy'). It's a great bit of footage, with a few extracts included in a DVD included with Kane's book 'Lennon Revealed/Ticket To Ride' (depending which edition you own!)

30) The Tomorrow Show (1975)

'We broke up out of boredom and boredom creates tension'. The other into-retirement programme was Tom Snyder's programme in which Lennon speaks for a full forty minutes - his longest televised interview since 1971. Sadly Snyder is rather more rambling than Frost or Cavett are and the questions are so long-winded a disinterested Lennon struggles to find anything more to say. He's interesting when talking about why everyone hated rock music (at the beginning it was 'black' and 'they couldn't hear it', 'but the Beatles made it more white'). Snyder asks if it's hard when fans are so open about having their favourites - 'Paul for instance had quite a few followers' leading John to wink at the camera and go 'oh, yeah?' and talks about how Paul was always the most popular with girls even back in the Cavern days. Snyder talks about an interview he made with David Crosby talking about 'songs about social change' but Lennon seems disinterested despite saying 'I watch the show all the time' and drifting off to compare Brooklyn accents with Liverpudlian. Lennon then ends his last televised interview by talking about his immigration hassles all over again. The best line: 'We were the first working class band who stayed working class even after we made it'.

31) (Just Like) Startin' Over (Music Video 1980)

The last video finished in Lennon's lifetime, 'Startin' Over' is effectively a ';catch up' of what JohnandYoko(andSean!) have been up to since we last met. The missing five years appear via stills of mainly holiday photos before we cut to John and Yoko walking through Central Park towards us. We also see Yoko in a fetching silk kimono kissing a t-shirted Lennon in bed and some ever so brief shots of Lennon in the studio. Ominously the video ends with an unsmiling Yoko staring out at us from their Dakota window - the same window where Yoko will picture Lennon's blood-stained glasses and the glass of water he'd left behind hours earlier which became the cover of her 1981 album 'Season Of Glass'

32) Woman (Music Video 1980)

Technically speaking, Lennon never lived to see the final rushes of 'Woman' but we've included it here because Yoko says that she and John had spoken about a second single from 'Double Fantasy' and had an 'idea' mapped out for it. Alas Lennon didn't live long enough to shoot his entire plan of exploring Central Park with Yoko, but as so much extra footage of the pair walking had been shot for 'Startin' Over' Yoko returned to the old film, adding a in a few shots of her sitting alone and cold in the winter snow as he sits on a bench, smoking, waiting for a Lennon who comes to her thanks to the wonders of editing. A few old photos and film footage are used here - the first time that a Lennon video had become nostalgic - just to bring an added tear to the eye and a lump to the throat. The video ends with the moving caption 'to be continued' as John and Yoko walk off into the sunlight as John sings of loving Yoko 'for now and forever'.

33) Beautiful Boy (Music Video 1980)

Lennon may or may not have intended this as his third single and may or may not have shot this video to go with it - but as 'Beautiful Boy' is taken almost entirely from home movie footage of John playing with Sean he would at least have known of it. For once the camera is parked at a distance as the Lennons holiday with friends in Bermuda. Sean runs to the beach and back again showing his parents things as they wave to him in the distance and we see Yoko the most motherly she's ever been, rolling over in the grass with her son and giving him a piggy-back. A pony-tailed Lennon then upstages them all by dancing on a thin narrow ledge in front of the camera before sitting back down again and then the figures disappear over the fade, turning into ghosts of times that were. It's a fitting end to the Lennon lifetime film collection though future videos for 'Borrowed Time' 'Nobody Told Me' and 'I'm Steppin' Out' will keep the Lennon flame burning a while longer and whole documentaries will be made across the next three decades.  

And that's that for now - join us next week for more Lennonisms with an even longer article on the best Lennon unreleased recordings. See you then!