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Published: 2008/04/30
by Brian Ferdman

The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder: John, Paul, Tom And Ringo

Shout! Factory

In a bizarre twist of fate, John Lennon' 1975 interview on “The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder” turned out to be the final televised interview he gave in his lifetime. On the day after Lennon's 1980 assassination, Snyder's show aired a re-broadcast of this interview along with appearances by reporter, Lisa Robinson, who conducted the final print interview of Lennon's life, and producer Jack Douglas, who had just completed work on Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy. This episode of "The Tomorrow Show" is paired on a new DVD release with later interviews of Paul and Linda McCartney and Ringo Starr and his wife Barbara Bach (along with a completely unrelated interview with Angie Dickinson that was part of the Starr episode).

For his part, Lennon proves to be both forthcoming and cautious in his dialogue. When asked point blank about drug use amongst his peers, Lennon initially claims to not know about it, although he eventually talks about the relative harmlessness of marijuana versus harder drugs. Of course, at this point in his life, he had to tread lightly because the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service was pursuing a path to deportation for him on the basis of a trumped up drug possession charge from the 1960s in England. With his lawyer by his side, a good chunk of the program is dedicated to his ongoing court battle for citizenship. However, the most refreshing part of the program occurs when Lennon talks about The Beatles, casually mentioning that after seeing women's orgasmic reactions to Elvis movies, they, like many musicians at the time, formed a band so they could get laid. (Ironically, several 1960s musicians have said that they formed bands after watching women's orgasmic reactions to The Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night.) Lennon admits that The Beatles’ music lacked the political and social advocacy that could be found in the works of their late ’60s brethren, and there isn’t the slightest tinge of bitterness as he discusses the band’s demise due to a lack of live performances and a stilted routine of recording an album annually. In addition, he seems genuinely happy for his friends’ post-Beatles success, making special note of Ringo Starr’s seemingly improbable rise on the charts. Throughout the entire interview, Lennon appears to be a man at peace with himself and genuinely enjoying his place in the world. He somewhat surprisingly claims to like disco and expresses admiration for “the thing that happened in Jamaica called reggae,” which he believes is the only real new trend in pop music. More than anything else, Lennon seems to relish his life in New York and professes his desire to stay in "the land of the free." With the insanity of Beatlemania behind him, he feels he is free to walk the streets without fear of crazed fans. Unfortunately, such bravado would lead to his murder only five years later.

The second disc, featuring interviews with the McCartneys, as well as Starr and Bach, is far less interesting. Neither McCartney nor Starr are as intriguing as the iconoclastic Lennon, and while their post-Beatles careers were quite successful, their artistic output pales in comparison to the work of their fallen comrade. Nevertheless, both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have ample opportunity to display their unique sense of humor, not to mention their awful and dated videos for McCartney's laughable attempt at punk ("Spin It On") and Starr's rather mundane “Wrack My Brain.” Of course, somber subject matter is also covered in the interviews, as the McCartneys’ 1979 sitting takes place one day after the infamous stampede at a Cincinnati performance of The Who, and Starr’s 1981 interview does discuss the tragedy of Lennon’s death.

The most bizarre aspect of this DVD set is the host himself. With his less than telegenic looks, awkward laughter, incessant chain smoking, and often odd line of questioning, Snyder really is an incredibly unlikely host for a television program. Nevertheless, he proves himself to be rather prescient, taking a 1979 interview with the McCartneys and somehow weaving in a comment about “the tension between Iran and the United States, inflation, and the high cost of living," proving that things haven't changed all that much in the last 30 years. Thus, this release is an interesting little time capsule for history buffs, as well as Lennon aficionados.

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