Monday, December 8, 2014

The Lennons & the Learys, 1969: "people won’t go where somebody hasn’t already gone".





Tomorrow never knows: 34 years a
fter his murder, John Lennon's legacy is still a touchstone for those looking  for peace in a confusing world. 
Michael Horowitz, Timothy Leary's archivist, found a tape-recording of a conversation between Timothy and Rosemary Leary and John and Yoko Lennon recorded during the Bed-In for Peace, May, 1969. The taped transcript was later included in early drafts of an anthology Leary was considering putting together for publication around 1978 with the title Heroes of the Sixties: Meetings with Remarkable WoMen, but the project was never completed. The tape and transcript were put aside.

Horowitz sent a copy of the transcript to the Timothy Leary Archives, which has published it on the website.  "I’d completely forgotten I had it. In an archival lapse, I had put it in an unmarked envelope in a box of miscellaneous papers.” he wrote. 

The curator of the Archives added:  "Michael’s guess is that Tim was given a copy of the tape at the time it was made, or later, and had it transcribed by one of his assistants, whose penciled editorial notes appear on the first two pages, and on the contents and permissions sheets. Michael remembers Tim invited him to assist on the project, “ but he (Tim) was too involved in the Future History Series, where some of these chapters ended up in one form or another, and abandoned ‘Heroes of the Sixties: Meetings with Remarkable WoMen.’”

The article and transcript was to be Chapter 16 under a new title, “The Beatles As Unconscious Evolutionary Agents (with Conversation with John-Yoko).” 

An excerpt:
TIMOTHY:  ... But it’s the old story. In the past, societies fought over territory. They thought, “We’ll hold this space, or we’ll force you out.” It’s an old mammalian tradition. As you pointed out about Reagan, what we’re doing in the United States is transcending this notion of the good-guy cowboy. That’s Governor Reagan: he’s gonna shoot down hippies, shoot down blacks and college students. So we gave up Millbrook, because there’s no point in fighting over the land, and making it a thing of territorial pride. If they want it so much that they’re going to keep an armed guard there all the time, they can have it. We’ll be back. ...

JOHN: Pioneers. Pioneers are very important today, because people won’t go where somebody hasn’t already gone. Yeah! That’s what we’re saying: what did your forefathers do? How did they make it?

YOKO: And it’s a healthy thing to do, isn’t it?

TIMOTHY: What do the kids say when they talk to you?

JOHN: About peace, or about anything in general? On the phone? Well, if they’re not saying, “Welcome to Canada,” they’re saying, “What can we do?” y’know?

ROSEMARY: That’s good.

JOHN: They’re saying, what can we actually do, and then I say, we say, “well we can’t tell you what to do?” y’know, we can only sort of say, “there’s other things to do.”

TIMOTHY: You’re in charge. You don’t have to ask.

JOHN: Yeah, think about it. But they’re getting it, y’know, I mean they must be. Our voices must be going out solid about every quarter of an hour. And if it isn’t singing, it’s talking, and we’re just repeating the same bit, y’know, and there’s very little “Me eyes are brown and Paul’s …," y’know? I mean I do that for the ones that need it. Most of it’s just, “let’s get it together,” and it must be going out now like a mantra. We’re trying to set up a mantra, a peace mantra, and get it in their heads. It’s gonna work.
TIMOTHY: It’s Pierre Trudeau that got us in Canada. Because, about a year and a half, two years ago, there was a big university thing in Toronto [Footnote from the Leary website: the reference is  to Perception ’67, a conference / cultural event featuring, in addition to the two named by Leary, Humphry Osmond, Richard Alpert, Ralph Metzner, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, Ed Sanders, and Ali Akbar Khan], and they invited people to speak about drugs. Paul Krassner came, McLuhan was there, and I was supposed to come up to give a talk, but the government wouldn’t let me in. So I sent a tape, and they confiscated it.

Then I went to the International Bridge in Detroit and handed it across, and the Americans busted me ’cause I wasn’t supposed to leave the country. That was two years ago, before Trudeau was premier. This time they checked with higher-ups. They kept us waiting about an hour. They were very polite. They were getting instructions from -– wherever they get their instructions.

JOHN: They kept us about two hours, searched through everything. Yeah, well, we wanted to get to Trudeau, we’re really headed for Nixon.

TIMOTHY: I am too.

JOHN: We’re just telling them that we want to give them two acorns—a piece of sculpture that we entered in an exhibition. So we wanted to get that to Nixon and tell him all we want you to do is make a positive move, y’know. And then they’d either have to accept it or deny it publicly, and then we’d ask, “Why, why, don’t you give us that time schedule?” ...

The film "Bed Peace" was made available for free on YouTube in August 2011 by Yoko Ono, as part of her website “Imagine Peace.” Tim and Rosemary’s participation is also documented in  another video on YouTube (also courtesy of Yoko’s Imagine Peace website), where they are seen singing on the recording of “Give Peace A Chance.”

John Lennon wrote another song that week, the earliest version of “Come Together,” for Leary’s campaign for Governor of California against Ronald Reagan. It was the prospect of Tim debating Reagan on television that, as much as anything, led to his imprisonment for a miniscule amount of marijuana. With the campaign aborted, John decided to rework the song for the Beatles’ Abbey Road.

(Photo by Stephen Sammons: Rosemary Leary, Timothy Leary, Yoko Ono and John Lennon, reading the local paper about their "Bed-In." From the Leary Archives site.)

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