Paul Plunges into Work, George Stays Cloistered and Yoko Reaches Out with Two New Songs
McCartney, 39, has now been a Wing as long as he was a Beatle. He, wife Linda and their three daughters and son live in an isolated country cottage in Sussex. His enthusiasm and recording schedule are relentless even though the far-flung McCartney enterprises now include a multimillion-dollar music publishing company that owns the royalty rights to such big-money scores as Grease and A Chorus Line.
Earlier this month Paul retreated to George Martin's splendiferous recording studio on Montserrat in the Caribbean to finish the new Wings LP, and he invited Stevie Wonder and Ringo to sit in on the sessions. That two of the Fab Four and Martin would be working together again sparked rumors that George Harrison might join them to produce a memorial album to John. Collaborations between Beatles have not been unthinkable. George wrote and produced two songs for Ringo in his home studio last November. And Ringo returned the favor by playing on several tracks of George's forthcoming work. But last week Paul's camp roundly denied that any reunion tribute LP was planned, and a Harrison confidant said that even if one were, George would "definitely, emphatically not" participate.
Harrison got the news of Lennon's murder in a 4:45 a.m. call from his sister in Florida. He confined his public comment to a single, terse statement: "After all we went through together, I had and still have great love and respect for him. To rob someone of life is the ultimate crime."
Since John's death Harrison, 38, has remained in the seclusion he shares only with his second wife, Olivia Arias, and their 2½-year-old son, Dhani, on a 33-acre estate called Friar Park at Henley-on-Thames near London. He has kept busy. Having financed Monty Python's Life of Brian, he is embarked now on the sound track for a new movie with three Pythoneers called Time Bandits. Still a devotee of Eastern religion and race-car driving, he became an author last year with an egocentric memoir titled I, Me, Mine, which, bound in leather, was priced at $350. A more affordable version is coming out next fall, and next week he's delivering a new album for release in the spring. For all that, he seems to have worked hardest at keeping his distance from the world. A multilingual no-trespassing sign is posted at the gate of Friar Park with warnings next to each of nine flags. The legend next to the Stars and Stripes is: GET YOUR ASS OUT' A HERE. Coming from the connoisseur of Python wackiness, it could be a tease. But the message gets across.
Yoko Ono Lennon's amazing equilibrium showed up in an ad that appeared in several major newspapers worldwide on January 18. "I thank you for your feeling of anger for John's death," she wrote. "I share your anger...The only 'revenge' that would mean anything to us, is to turn the society around in time, to one that is based on love and trust as John felt it could be."
The Spirit Foundation, which she established with John in 1978 to benefit such diverse causes as the Salvation Army, the New York Foundling Hospital and, ironically, a fund to buy bulletproof vests for New York City police, has profited from fans' desire to demonstrate their grief tangibly. "The foundation is a very personal thing," says a spokesman. "Instead of giving $30,000 to a group, they will buy 1,000 baskets of food with $30 of food in each one."
Yoko has also just issued a new 45 on which she sings two of her own songs, Walking on Thin Ice and It Happened. Neither was contained on the chart-topping Double Fantasy LP, which has already sold more than four million copies. (Lennon and Ono recorded two LPs' worth of material and chose the most accessible for Double Fantasy, planning a follow-up album of more exotic compositions.) Walking on Thin Ice was the song she and John were remixing in the studio the night he was shot, and its lyrics are eerily apt in the aftermath: "Walking on thin ice/I'm paying the price/For throwing the dice in the air/Why must we learn it the hard way." The other song was one Yoko wrote and taped in 1973. John found it in a box at home two weeks before he died and begged her to release it. Yet it too speaks of nothing more clearly than her loss: "It happened at a time of my life when I least expected/...And I know there's no return, no way." For this record, Yoko wrote a liner note: "Getting this together after what happened was hard. But I know John would not rest his mind if I hadn't. I hope you like it, John. I did my best."