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PopEntertainment.com > Miscellaneous > Starting Over: The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy by Ken Sharp

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Starting Over: The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy by Ken Sharp (VH1/Gallery Books)

Very few people have had their lives completely scrutinized as much as John Lennon did in the less than two decades of his stardom.  Films, books, television shows, songs, documentaries, blogs and much more have looked back at the former Beatle. 

You would think that it would be hard to find a new angle to approach his story, but Starting Over:The Making of John Lennon and Yoko Onoís Double Fantasy has done just that. 

The book, written and edited by pop musician, music journalist (and frequent PopEntertainment contributor) Ken Sharp is stunning in its simplicity.  It is an oral history of the last year of Lennonís life, in which he gives up his self-imposed retirement to record what would turn out to be his final album, Double Fantasy. 

Starting Over gives you a fly on the wall immediacy because the story was told by the people who lived it, including Lennonís widow Yoko Ono and the musicians who worked on the album. 

Starting Over is a touching portrait of a once-tortured artist as a newly serene man Ė in a window of time which would tragically end up being way too short.

As I stated earlier, Lennon was under a spotlight during most of his adult life, however his final "house-husband" years were always a bit of a mystery.  Starting Over shows this musical genius finally emerging from his own exile and rediscovering the joy of pure artistic creation. 

"Starting Over" gives us an in-depth look at his final days as a musician, in which a deeply troubled and complicated man finally had found peace as a family man. Through a series of talking heads with just about everyone who experienced his last recording sessions, Sharp is able to paint a portrait of the making of a classic album. 

Sadly, but obviously, no history of Lennonís work on the album will ever be completely definitive just because the man himself did not survive to give us all the insight.  However, Sharp does the best he can by mixing quotes from some of Lennonís final interviews with extensive and well researched interviews with just about everyone else who was there. 

Much of this story is well known, but we get intimate details from Ono, producer Jack Douglas, the band members (Hugh McCracken, Earl Slick, George Small, Andy Newmark and Tony Levin) as well as others who were intimately or tangentially involved.  Some of those people include label head David Geffen, photographer Annie Liebovitz, publicist Bob Merlis, photographer Bob Gruen and radio interviewer Andy Peebles, who ended up doing Lennonís final interview. 

Also, little known and forgotten chapters of the recording Ė for example speaking extensively with two members of the then red-hot rock band Cheap Trick who had recorded two songs with Lennon that ended up not being used, though one of the recordings eventually ended up on a Lennon box set. 

As is inevitable to happen with a group of people thirty years on some of the descriptions slightly contradict other peopleís memories, but this just makes the puzzle pieces of history more interesting to try to fit together. 

However, more importantly it just allows us unprecedented access to the final days of one of the past centuryís musical geniuses.  The slight Rashomon effect of having many different people describe the action from different perspectives makes these final days come back to life. 

The fact that Lennon had finally achieved the satisfaction which had alluded him for years before his own tragic ending makes it even more bittersweet. 

We'll never know all the music which Lennon may have gone on to make had a mad man not ambushed him on the New York streets one 1980 day, but at least with Starting Over we can at least find comfort in the fact that the man had reached serenity in his life.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright © 2010 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: October 31, 2010.

 
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Copyright © 2010 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: October 31, 2010.

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