From “Strawberry Fields Forever: John Lennon Remembered”:
JOHN: “I was a working-class macho guy that didn’t know any better. Yoko taught me about women. I was used to being served, like Elvis and a lot of the stars there. And Yoko didn’t buy that. She didn’t give a shit about Beatles — what the fuck are the Beatles? I’m Yoko Ono! Treat me as me.” That was the battle. She came out with “Woman Is the Nigger of the World” in 1968 as the title of an article she wrote for Nova magazine. Because things were like they were, I took the title and wrote the song.
But it was her statement and what she was saying to the world she was saying to Lennon in spades. I had never considered it before. From the day I met her, she demanded equal time, equal space, equal rights. I didn’t know what she was talking about. I said, “What do you want, a contract? You can have whatever you want, but don’t expect anything from me or for me to change in any way. Don’t impinge on my space.” “Well,” she said, “The answer to that is I can’t be here. Because there is no space where you are. Everything revolves around you. And I can’t breathe in that atmosphere. I’m an artist. I’m not some female you picked up backstage.” Well, I found out. And I’m thankful to her for the education.
I was used to a situation where the newspaper was there for me to read, after I’d read it, somebody else could have it. It didn’t occur to me that somebody else might want to look at it first. I think that’s what kills people like Presley and others of that ilk. So-called stars who die in public and lots of people who die privately. The king is always killed by his courtiers, not by his enemies. The king is overfed, overdrugged, overindulged, anything to keep the king tied to his throne. Most people in that position never wake up. They either die mentally or physically or both. And what Yoko did for me, apart from liberating me to be a feminist, was to liberate me from that situation. And that’s how the Beatles ended. Not because Yoko split the Beatles, but because she showed me what it was to be Elvis Beatle and to be surrounded by sycophants and slaves who were only interested in keeping the situation as it was. And that’s a kind of death.
She said to me, “You’ve got no clothes on”. Nobody had dared tell me that before. Nobody dared tell Elvis Presley that, and I doubt if anybody ever dared to tell Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, or Bob Dylan that they had no clothes on. I didn’t accept it at first. “But I am clothed! Everything is perfect — you’re crazy. Nobody tells me — I’m God. I’m King John of England. Nobody tells me nuthin’.” Because nobody had. She told me, “You absolutely have no clothes on, and that man wisperin’ in your ear is Machiavelli.” “But he’s been with me for twenty years!” “Then he’s been screwin’ you for twenty years.” “Really?” I couldn’t face any of that. She still tells me the truth. It’s still painful.
Garbarini, Vic and Brian Cullman with Barbara Graustark. Strawberry Fields Forever: John Lennon Remembered. Bantam, New York, NY, 1980.
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