Well, sadly, Monday night I finished Keith's book at last. Wow. Did I love that escape for 550 pages or so.
Then, yesterday, I moved on to finally reading that last interview with John Lennon that came out in Rolling Stone this month. It has been sitting in my living room since it arrived in the mail. I didn't have the nerve to read it. That day he died was so traumatizing for me. I had only been living in New York for 3 weeks by then. I was 20 years old. New York City was a truly dismal and dangerous place back in those years -- the city was trying to come back from having gone bankrupt; violent crime was very high; garbage was everywhere. Drugs, drugs, drugs; and booze & sex everywhere, too. This was pre-AIDS; right on the precipice of the onslaught of the catastrophe. (Plus, when I moved there on November 15, 1980 -- that was the coldest winter they'd had at that point since 1918.) New York City in 1980 was nothing like what it is today. Those were such intense times for me when I first moved there. I had managed to get involved with a hitman for the Mob, he had already gotten me pregnant & I was broke and living in this condemned shell of a building that had no heat, and then one of my heroes, John Lennon, the man who basically taught me to think, gets murdered. All in 3 weeks!! It felt like an entire separate lifetime, but it was only 3 weeks.
I was not eager to dive into that issue of Rolling Stone and risk feeling too much of it come alive, you know? But since I have got to confront it all in my memoir & turn it into poetry somehow, well...
The interview is great, however. So great. I'm glad that I'm 50 and reading it now and that they had chosen not to publish it right after he was killed. The irony of a lot of what Lennon says would have been too much for me back then. But what a great and charming and revealing interview. He was really finally getting some peace, it seems. Some clarity. A return to grace.
When I was eleven, my life began. That was when I bought the little paperback book Lennon Remembers. Rolling Stone magazine had published it. It was the interview they had done with him in two parts back in early 1970. They reprinted the entire interview as a little paperback book. I bought it at a little drugstore in a strip mall near my house. I was a huge John Lennon fan. Well, I loved the Beatles and the Monkees, first -- in the 60s. Then I loved only Paul McCartney. Then Donny Osmond & David Cassidy. Then, when I was eleven, I became fixated on John Lennon.
Lennon Remembers was a little paperback that truly changed my whole world. Not only did he talk from a POV that I totally & completely -- let's say viscerally -- related to; he was also an artist and at that point in my life I knew that there was something alarmingly different about me, but I didn't know yet that it was because I was an artist. When Lennon talked about the things he felt when he was growing up; how he felt, how the world felt to him, all his angst & agony and confusion & pain, I was like -- wait, wait; this is me!
No one else had ever talked about it before. My parents were always at odds with me about this nebulous angst I had, since the time I was about 8 or 9. I knew there was something different about me and I would scream at my parents to try to help me figure it out. But they were both clueless and a little scared, I think, because they'd adopted me and they maybe thought I meant that I felt different because I'd been adopted. But what I was trying to tell them (at pretty high-pitched volumes sometimes) was that something drastically different was going on inside me. That none of my other little girlfriends could relate to me, at all, in that regard. When I would try to talk to my friends about all this intense STUFF that was in my head when we were all about 8, they looked at me like I was from Mars, you know? It was scary to me. Isolating. Alienating.
Lennon Remembers finally showed me the path I was on; I was an artist. I was already a musician and a writer. But by then, I was still only 11 and it was, like, uh-oh; this can't be good... but at the same time, it was orgasmic, you know? In the sense of the soul being liberated finally, I mean.
Lennon also talked a lot about Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones (among a ton of other people), so then I needed to find out all about Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, too. It was really the beginning of my whole life.
A little bit later, in 1972 I think, Rolling Stone reprinted their massive interview with Keith Richards, as well. They'd done the interview with Robert Greenfield back in 1971 (August, I think?). Well, that was the second most astounding interview I ever read in my entire life. Keith is a really intelligent man. I needed a complete cultural dictionary to read that interview with him back when I was 12, you know? It was truly astounding -- the world as Keith saw it. It was so over my head.
I consider myself blessed to have found men like them, men who were such iconoclastic thinkers when I was only 11 & 12 years old. That's when I first got it into my head that if I could find my biological father, he would understand me. Sixteen years later, I did find him, at last, and he did understand me, as no one else ever had; he was an artist, too. He played blues guitar; he wrote songs -- it was redemption & release; it completed me as an artist, or so I believed.
It wasn't until a few years later, when I saw the Tim Burton movie, Ed Wood, that the sky cracked open and fell on me. I still am not sure what happened but something within that movie made it crystal clear to me that I was still not on the right path, but the path I needed to be on was truly terrifying. Truly. Leaving all the music behind and becoming a pornographer. I became an insomniac and a chain smoker and a heavy drinker. Ed Wood, as odd as it seems, was my Garden of Gethsemane; it really was. It was down to me & God, and God was saying, "Marilyn, I really want you to do this; trust me," and I was like, you've got to be kidding... but I was a believer and so I trusted God and became a pornogrpaher and my whole world exploded; it came ALIVE, you know? Destiny crashed into me. (And then, as luck would have it, I discovered I was no longer a monotheist... but that's a whole other ballgame.)
Anyway. Yes, I loved the "lost" Lennon interview. It was bittersweet but not traumatizing. And now, my friends, the two men who set me off on this fantastic path called LIFE have had their say (Keith's memoir and Lennon's last interview) and I have to tackle my own life now, in the sense of writing Manhattan, Mon Amour, I mean. Coffee is absolutely required. See ya, gang!
About Marilyn Jaye
Causes Marilyn Jaye Lewis Supports
The Film Council of Greater Columbus, Columbus, OH
The Adrienne Shelley Foundation, NY, NY
Paralyzed Veterans of America, Washington, DC...