Tuesday, June 12, 2012

40 Year Itch : Que Pasa New York?


While most of John and Yoko's Some Time In New York, released June 13 1972, sounds like a mess made with the best of revolutionary intentions, the title track is more than a worthwhile listen. It's kind of an update to "The Ballad of John and Yoko".

  Standing on the corner
Just me and Yoko Ono
We was waiting for Jerry to land 

( Jerry is most likely Jerry Rubin who, along with Abbie Hoffman, were the first people to get in touch with Lennon when he arrived in NYC. They got him involved in a John Sinclair benefit which led to the song "John Sinclair" and other political tunes Lennon would later dismiss as "journalism and not poetry")

 Up come a man 
with the guitar in his hand 
Singing "have a marijuana if you can"
His name was David Peel 


 ( David Peel, who had recorded the 1969 album Have a Marijuana for Elektra was a street musician who befriended Lennon. He'd recorded a song called "The Pope Smokes Dope" and a few songs about cops hassling street musicians. After Lennon's death, Peel wrote a song about the friendship called "In My Life")

And we found that he was real
 He sangs "The pope smokes dope everyday" 
Up come a police man 
shoved us up the street Singin, 
"power to the people today!" 
NYC...NYC...NYC Que pasa Ny?
...Que pasa NY? 
Well we went to Max's Kansas City 

( New York City nightclub, a hand out for Andy Warhol, The Velvet Underground ( who recorded a live album there) and various other NYC artists) 

Got down the nitty gritty 
With the Elephants Memory Band

 (NYC band that once included Carly Simon as a vocalist. They had two songs on the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack. As the Plastic Ono Elephants Memory Band, they back John and Yoko on Some Time In New York)

 Laid something down
 As the news spread around 
About the Plastic Ono Elephants Memory Band! 
Well we played some funky boogie 

  ( I don't know how funky it is but there's boogie on Some Time like "We're All Water")

 And laid some tutti frutti 
Singing "Long tall sally's a man" 

 (Both Little Richard tunes)

Up come a preacher man
trying to be a teacher 
Singing "God's a red herring in drag!"

(Likely a lunatic street preacher. Though red herrings are often considered elements of detective novels, they originate in a bible story.)

Que pasa NY?...Que pasa NY?

 Well we did the Staten Island Ferry
Making movies for the telly

 Played the Fillmore

with Frank Zappa and The Mothers June of 1971.  Both Lennon and Zappa put out performance on record which cause some serious bad feelings.

 and Apollo for freedom,

Lennon's December 1971  appearance at the Apollo was to raise money for families of victims of the Attica State Prison Riots.

Tried to shake our image
 Just a cycling through the village
 But found that we had left it back in London.
 Well nobody came to bug us,
hustle us or shove us
so we decided to make it our home

(Easier sang than done. After John and Yoko posted billboards that declared "War Is Over If You Want It" the Nixon Administration spent 1972 embarking on what would be a four-year attempt to deport him. Lennon was denied permanent residency in the US until 1976 and said of the battle:

 In '72, it was really gettin' to me. Not only was I physically having to appear in court cases, it just seemed like a toothache that wouldn't go away....' Now, the last thing on earth I want to do is perform. That's a direct result of the immigration thing. In '71, '72, I wanted to go out and rock my balls off onstage and I just stopped.

 -John Lennon in a 1975 Rolling Stone interview

 If the man wants to shove us out
 We gonna jump and shout
The Statue of Liberty said, "come!"

 Que pasa Ny?...Que pasa NY?
down in the village What a bad-ass city!
 Que pasa Ny?...Que pasa NY?

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I am trying to track down some info on the photo of John, Yoko, and Jerry Rubin sitting in bed (on your blog). Do you happen to know who took the picture, or where it was scanned from? I am seeking to license it for publication in a book. Any help would be greatly appreciated.