KENNETH WOMACK – John Lennon 1980: The Last Days in the Life
- by J.N.
- Posted on 16-11-2020
Author Kenneth Womack has written some impressive and incredibly well-researched books over the years (including "Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles") and this latest offering of his, which focuses entirely on John Lennon’s last year among us mortal beings, is yet another remarkable literary piece that is as illuminating as it is thought-provoking.
"John Lennon 1980" is neither the most elegantly written nor hauntingly beautiful Beatles-related book that yours truly have come across over the years, but it is a hugely informative and downright enlightening read in that it uncovers and weaves a myriad of interesting facts and details in relation to Lennon’s final year together in a structured, cohesive manner. It truly feels as if no stone is left unturned here and perhaps the most memorable aspect of Womack’s well-composed narrative is that it celebrates the musical pioneer’s last 12-14 months and Lennon’s majestic triumph with 1980’s "Double Fantasy" record. Instead of focusing on the senseless murder that robbed us of one of the greatest songwriters of all time, this accessible little gem elaborates on (and cherishes) the many positive happenings that occurred towards the end of Lennon’s life and the countless things that he was grateful for and found joy in. His whole process of moving from a self-imposed retirement to once again finding himself churning out spirited and heartfelt musical pieces and ideas is a marvelous and inspiring read. I personally loved immersing myself in the chapters detailing the whole process of crafting and recording the aforementioned "Double Fantasy" opus and the things that spurred John and Yoko on to write the songs for that particular album. In many ways, the way in which the conception and release of said record is told by Womack is quite climactic. Also, the way in which Lennon’s adopted home city of New York functions as the primary backdrop to the tale is inspired.
"John Lennon 1980: The Last Days in the Life" is packed with details and anecdotes but it never feels dense or even remotely convoluted. This is a captivating yet complex story where the author skillfully maintains a nuanced perspective throughout and never loses sight of the book’s focus, which is to examine and discuss Lennon’s daily life, his role as a father and husband, an artist, a celebrity, a New York City resident, and a human being who was a source of inspiration to those around him and fans all over the world. There were instances where I felt that Womack could have been more subjective and perhaps offered a more personal evaluation of some of Lennon’s decisions and artistic endeavors. Although the book is not necessarily what one would deem an intoxicating or utterly absorbing read, it is a thoroughly good one with a great flow to it, and it is obviously a must-have if you are an adherent of John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and The Beatles, or perhaps just a rock/pop music enthusiast eager to learn more about Lennon’s powerful late-career surge. Definitely recommended.