Jun 14 • 4M

14/6 John Lennon Like You

Demo from 1995

39
8
 
1.0×
0:00
-3:48
Open in playerListen on);
The Project of a Lifetime. A living archive from Grant Morrison. Studio excerpts.
Episode details
8 comments

GALLERY artefact #020

Picture: Alan Cameron Cardonald Cemetery 1981 L-R: Danny Vallely, GM, Ulric Kennedy, Ron Bookless

STUDIO ARTEFACT #002

John Lennon Like You

Back in the late 1700s during the Civil War, I formed a band with some like-minded teenage pals. We called ourselves The Mixers after a band named on page 40 of our beloved A Clockwork Orange.

Influenced by punk, ‘60s garage psychedelia and the work of Neil Innes, The Mixers would switch styles on a dime from Beatles to Buzzcocks, the Kinks, the Byrds, the Move, TV Personalities, the Tourists, and Noel Coward, all absorbed into in our trademark 3-guitar thumpa thumpa thumpa driving beat.

We plied our trade in and around Glasgow, becoming affiliated with an indie scene that included the Pastels, Alan McGee at the dawn of Creation, and latterly Primal Scream and the Jesus and Mary Chain, until breaking up on stage in 1983 when our drummer Michael Angus quit for good (Michael, an architecture student at the time, is now one of the presenters on my guilty middle class telly pleasure Scotland’s Home of the Year). The core group continued to play and record in various configurations with a succession of drummers, spending time as Jenny and the Cat Club then the Fauves, before sputtering to a halt as Super 9 after a few tracks were played on Radio Scotland’s Beat Patrol show.

In the mid-90s, the four prime Mixers got together again and put the recriminations of the past behind us for a vivid creative explosion part-fuelled by the weed, champagne and mushrooms we’d denied ourselves in our straight edge days. Unsurprisingly these sessions yielded some of our best work together.

Anyway – you’ll likely hear more about this lot as I scour the archives for interesting demos and live recordings.

On October 9 1993, which would have been John Lennon’s 53rd birthday had the Arch-Beatle not been shot dead by Mark Chapman in 1980, I performed a ritual intended to incarnate Lennon as a god.

I wanted to make a dedication at the beginning of what was a whole new life for me in many ways. I wanted to summon a spirit of pure psychedelic inspiration into a Lennon-shaped environment. I sought not to manifest the real man; the troubled, cruel and violent Lennon with his flaws and contradictions but instead evoke Lennon the twisted mystic, the pop star intellectual, the elemental Air of the four Beatles as stripped back to their cartoon archetypes.

To get in the mood, I wore a Paisley shirt, skinny jeans and Chelsea boots. I sat at the centre of a circle made of Beatles albums and had Tomorrow Never Knows playing on a loop. My new 12-string white Rickenbacker stood in for a wand. As sacrament, I took a microdose of LSD, not enough for a full-blown trip but sufficient to soften consensus reality.

People sometimes misunderstand when I talk about what happened that night – I was not possessed by the ‘spirit’ of Lennon. This was not a mediumistic example of ‘channelling’ the alleged dead. This was magic. Intention Willed into Form.

I altered the temple environment using sounds, smells and images as powerful triggers, to push out of my consciousness all associations that did not relate to Lennon.

This overload of environmental cues was organized or compressed by Will into a singular, visible compound idea of Lennon-ness, so that everywhere I looked reminded me of John Lennon, everything I heard was Lennon, until all other qualities the space around me may have once possessed were edited out and replaced by the Lennonsphere!

Using a traditional 3-part summoning where the magician first speaks to the chosen god, angel or specified other in the 3rd person, at a worshipful remove - ‘He is the Walrus, the Eggman, the Moondog…’

The call is repeated, this time in 2nd person and with more fervour, as to a lover – ‘You are the Walrus, the Eggman etc…’

And finally, with all the passion, intent and language available the magician pronounces - ‘I am the Walrus, I am the Eggman…’ and assumes full responsibility for whatever happens next.

This total possession of the ritual space by a coherent manifestation what I was looking for and it expressed itself visually and audibly as a 4-foot tall head that fit inside my temple space but felt much bigger, made of thousands of intricate multi-coloured and chiming shards of what resembled musical notation as rotated through a higher direction – intense flashing colours, digital high fidelity, shimmering musical glissades and drones.

The Invisibles: Issue 1 Page 18 (art by Steve Yeowell) ©Grant Morrison

I bathed in an electric fluorescent creative kaleidoscope – searing yellows and electric pinks, UV blues – receiving a download of powerful effervescent excitement and creativity. It felt most like the imagined Lennon of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper. A psychedelic god on acid.

The ritual formed the basis for the above scene in the first issue of The Invisibles where most of the accompanying captions – buddha gong universal harmonics – monastery acoustic hiss and drone – looking glass language reverb red in the red room of the head and so on - come directly from my magical diary record and were my immediate attempts to describe the textures of the experience.

A great many mysteries and marvels came out of that night, including seeds of what became The Invisibles itself and the beginning of an inexorable escalation of unleashed intent which climaxed eight months later in Kathmandu, Nepal.

As a more minor side effect of the ritual, I found myself with this song I’d strummed into life, composed almost automatically, complete with lyrics and music. It always sounded to me, at best, like a throwaway B-side from 1965 as imagined by the Rutles but that’s why I’ve always liked it. It’s a very authentic scribble of the moment…

It is emphatically NOT a communication from beyond the grave.

An acoustic version of the song exists online, performed by me at the great Meltdown Books & Comics formerly of Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, to close off a discussion with Gerard Way.

Here is the original version as recorded by the Mixers two years after the 1993 transmission – with a cheeky arrangement by Danny Vallely, who transformed the song into a homage to Hey Bulldog for those Mixers 1995 comeback sessions that were inspired both by Britpop catalyst the Beatles Anthology and the Rutles Archaeology. The sadly unfinished Mixology album featured this track, Mr. Right Now, Only God, The Sun Always Shines on Bridge Street, She’s Drifting Away, Here She Crashes, Interesting Times, Julian Lane (the Madness of Syd Barrett) and some other clever ‘60s pastiche recordings.

JOHN LENNON LIKE YOU –

Keep taking the pills

Keep reading the books

Keep looking for signs

that somebody loves you

Keep walking the dog,

Keep taking the drug

Keep looking for signs

that somebody loves you

1 and 1 and 1 makes 2

If you really want it to

I’m talking bout love

Keep watching the skies

Just a word to the wise

When will you realise

That somebody loves you

1 and 1 and 1 makes 2

If you really want it to

I’m talking bout love

All I wanted to be all I wanted to be all I wanted to be

Was a Beatle like you

John Lennon like you…

GALLERY artefact #021

Picture Judy Cartwright Culzean Castle 1984