Interview with Lennon Fan And Author
Jude Southerland Kessler
Jude is the author of The John Lennon Series, that you can
buy at: johnlennonseries.com
She was recently interviewed for Anna's Beatle Hour radio
show, and when I heard her story I wanted to interview her.
So here is the interview.
What made John Lennon your favorite Beatle?
I was 9 years old when I became a John Lennon fan, so i'm sure that my
initial reason, way back when, was that I thought John was the
"most handsome beatle." (Never "the cutest. that was Paul... but who
likes "cute?") However, as the year progressed, I loved John sardonic with
his intelligence, and his voice. As a teenager i hadn't a clue "who
sang what" Beatles' song. But as it turned out, every single song I liked by
the Beatles was a "John song." That sound just appealed to me.
As an adult, I learned John's life story and my heart went out to "the
little child inside the man," that little boy for whom so many people
shoulda been there, but were not. I mourned for the child who was
(for complex reasons) abandoned to an uncle and auntie to rear. My
heart went out to the angry teen who lost his mum a second time to death,
who lost his beloved uncle Ge'rge, and then lost his soul mate and
dearest friend, Stu Sutcliffe. John seemed destined to lose everyone he
loved - to endure a lie of tragedy. But out of that unceasing tragedy he wrote
the soundtrack of our lives. He let the pain inspire him to great the greatest
songs of our generation. And he never gave up. He kept re-inventing
himself to meet the challenges of each barricade and detour. Even when he
"lost" The Beatles, he re-engineered himself as a Peace activist John and
took a new tack. Thats what I like most about John Lennon. He never let life
defeat him. It tried diligently to bring him down, but he never succumbed.
What era of John's Life did he look the best in your opinion?
Strangely enough, i love the period he most hated. I love the "Fat Elvis"
time frame of 196-1965. I thought he was "tough" as a leathered hamburg
rocker (and that's my favorite era of Beatles' music) but John in his leather
lenin cap saying, "She looks more like him then I do" is John at his best.
I hate to be preachy but John teaches me things. And knowing that he hated
the John that most girls adored tell me that like John, most of us are
too hard on ourselves. Maybe what we can take away from that dichotomy
is this: When we think we're unattractive, other have a completely
John's solo career is for me just as great as his Beatles day, but what one do
you think is better? Solo John or Beatle John?
I'm a lennon fan first and a Beatles' fan second. I prefer his solo career. I listen
to the Beatles, and I love the lads, but given my druthers, I'll play a
lennon CD every time... it doesn't get better than "I'm losin' you," "New
York City," "Jealous Guy," "Instant Karma," or "Grow Old with Me,"
does it? George Martin admitted that John' rock'n'roll voice was "unequaled."
But it is the passion that pervades each word that John sings that
inspires me. He never writes a silly love song. Even song like "Oh,
Yoko," Which seem light and airy are full of angst. John's music is intentional.
It's rarely just word play. though he loved word play. Yes there are
a few "I am the Walrus" numbers, but even "I Am the Walrus" offers
a droll commentary on the tendency of fans to find meaning in
nothing. In each song, John sets out to "sing his heart and speak his
mind." And, what he has to say is interesting, provoking, remarkable.
What made you want to write your first book about him?
My goal in writing The John Lennon Series (From Day 1) was to write
the complete biography of John Lennon - to include all the stories,
interviews, and fact connected with John's life and to present this
material in an historical narrative. I wanted to write his life story in a
factual, documented, narrative format (much as Thucydides wrote
The History of The Peloponnesian War in ancient Greece).
Book 1, Shoulda Been There, was the first volume in that work. It was
designed to cover John's childhood and teen years, giving the reader
the background formation of The Beatles. Shoulda is the
book that answer the question, "Why?" "Why did John feel compelled
to form a rock'n'roll band?" "Why did he select Paul to join his
group?" "Why did he include George Harrison?" "Why did he see himself
as an artist rather than a rock'n'roller?" "Why did he feel a need to
reach the 'toppermost of the popperrmost' and be bigger then Elvis?" Why?
That was the purpose of researching and penning Shoulda Been There.
It took me 20 years to research the data and to write the book, but
it was worth it. In Shoulda Been There Oct. 1940-Dec. 1961 is covered in
850 pages with a "Biographical Encyclopedia," a Scouse Glossary. and
many photos from my seven trips to Liverpool included. It patiently
sets the stage for the other eight volumes to follow. (Since then i have
published Volumes 2 and 4 and am working on book 4.)
Is there any parts of Johns life you refuse to write about?
No. A year ago, i recieved a rather scathing review from a person on
Amazon who accused me of "not liking John" because I have
shared some stories about John that aren't flattering. Me? Not
like John Lennon? I've given 300 years of my life to researching and
writing his story. What a ludicrous critique! But here's the situation;
I intend to tell the complete truth about John: the good, the bad, and the
realistic. Not every incident will be rosy. Many will be, but not
all. The John Lennon Series is a biography, not a love letter. And those who
say that they love John Lennon should love the real person, the
whole man, not the legend. As John would say "Gimme some truth!"
If someone was to read your books on him what would they be getting?
Well, i've really already answered the question to some extent, so let
me summarise. My books are historical narratives. They are factual,
documented (thousands of footnotes in each book) biographies of John
Lennon's life written in a narrative form so that you can enjoy
them as "a good book." Bill Harry called them "factional." Steve
Marinucci of Beatles Examiner, called them "expanded biographies."
They read like a novel; however they are non-fiction. There will be
nine books in the series, tracing John's life from his birth to death.
Three books have been released: Shoulda Been There (1940-Dec.1961),
Shivering Inside (Dec 1961- May 1963), And She Loves You (May
1963 - March 1964). Currently, i am working on Vol. 4, Should've Known Better
(March 1964-Dec 1965). It will be released in 2017
(March 1964-Dec 1965). It will be released in 2017
Would you ever write a book about another Beatle? and if so, who?
No. My life's work is writing this extensive 9-volume biography of John
Lennon. The project will take me 43 years, working six days a week.
When i finish i will be 83. That's what I came here to do. When i
complete that work, I will have accomplished my task.
If you could spend a day with John, what would you do in that day?
I would like to go back to 5 April 196 and experience that day. The Beatles
were headed back to Hamburg once again to reunite with Stu. They
were elated! That night they played The Cavern. During the first set,
they wore their leather and rocked the rafters. Then after intermission
for the first time...they changed into their brand new mohair suits... and
in that moment, The New Beatles ( Brian's brainchild) emerged for
the first time. I would've loved to have seen the transition, to be in the
crowd for that landmark moment when John doffed his former self
and stepped onto the world stage as Beatles John. It was also one of
the last days that he was happy one of the last precious days before
he lost Stu. That loss changed him forever. I shoulda been there...
Have you got anything to tell us about your book, and why people
should buy a copy and read it?
Bill harry said that reading my books is like being a fly on the wall
when John meets Stu or Paul or gets his first guitar. You are there.
You eavesdrop on John's life. You walk with him. You get to know
him intimately. You live each moment of Beatlemania with him. You sit on
John's bedspread in Mendips and witness those howls of gut-wrenching
hollow, hysterical laughter when Uncle Ge'rge passes. You walk to
Gambier Terrace with Cyn and John after the End of Term Bash, and listen
as they speak their first words of love. You agonize along with
Brian when John states his determination to make the "fookin'
jewelry" comment at the Royal Command Performance. Each crucial
Moment comes alive. And you live it. That is The John Lennon Series.