Friday, October 20, 2006

A Spaniard in the Works

"A Spaniard in the Works" was John Lennon's second book, published in 1965. Similar to "In His Own Write", this book contained 21 stories and poems and 38 drawings. The contents included The Fat Budgie, The Wumberlog, The Singularge Experience of Miss Anne Duffield, Snore Wife and Some Several Dwarts, and Our Dad.

John donated his drawing of The Fat Budgie to Oxfam for them to use as a charity Christmas card. A picture of the card can be seen in The Writing Beatle photo album.

On June 18 1965, John appeared on the BBC's Tonight show and read some excerpts from "A Spaniard in the Works" before being interviewed by Kenneth Allsop.


BBC "Tonight" 18 June 1965

John read two pieces from "A Spaniard in the Works" - “We Must Not Forget The General Erection”, followed by “The Wumberlog (Or The Magic Dog)”. He was then interviewed by Kenneth Allsop.

KA: Your first book was a bestseller and I shouldn’t say there’s any doubt this one’s going to be too. Do you think you’d be published were you not a Beatle?

JL: I could probably get published but you know, I wouldn’t sell as many. I mean, they publish a lot of rubbish anyway, but I wouldn’t sell.

KA: Do you think you’ve got a built-in advantage in being a Beatle, and are you glad about this or would you rather have earned a reputation as a writer in your own right?

JL: No, because I never thought of it. If I hadn’t been a Beatle I just wouldn’t have thought of having the stuff published because I would have been crawling around broke and just writing it and throwing it away. I might have been a Beat Poet.

KA: How did it come about that you weren’t a Beat Poet and that your first book was published?

JL: Well, some American who shall remain nameless – called Michael Braun – I showed him the stuff and he took it to the publisher and he published it and that was it.

KA: Did you ever think of publishing under a pseudonym, not as John Lennon?

JL: I thought of that, but what’s the use, you know? Because he took it to the publisher first, without telling them who it was, just to see if they would have published it, so that answers your first question as well.

KA: It does indeed, yes. Living, you know, in the ‘butterfly world’ of pop, as a Beatle, do you find that this undermines people’s serious acceptance of you as a writer?

JL: It does, but I didn’t really expect them to take me seriously, so there’s nothing to say about that. They do take it more seriously than I thought, so that’s good enough for me.

KA: Indeed, I remember the first book was reviewed in the posh Sundays and on the other side of the fence, your music’s recorded by people like Ella Fitzgerald. Now this is rather serious recognition in both areas. Which do you find most satisfying?

JL: Well, the books really, because it means more to other people that Ella Fitzgerald recorded one of our tunes than it does to us, because the tune is still something that Paul and I have written, so we still have the same faith in it, it just gives other people more faith in the tune.

KA: This book’s very similar to the first, being bits and pieces of poems and pieces of prose. Do you think you’d ever want to write anything longer, a novel for example?

JL: Well, I tried. The longest thing I’ve written is in this book; it’s one about Sherlock Holmes and it seemed like a novel to be but it turned out to be six pages. But I don’t think I could, I couldn’t do it, you know. I get fed up and I didn’t know who was…I wrote so many characters in it I’d forgotten who they were, you know.

KA: This happens to other writers too.

JL: Oh. Other writers, good.

KA: The pop business, that young man’s world, seems to have an ever-increasingly young audience. Do you think that perhaps writing a book like this – or writing at all, in fact – might be an unconscious attempt to win recognition in the adult world?

JL: No, because I started all this writing long before I was a pop artist or even a Beatle, or before I had a guitar, so it’s nothing to do with that. The guitar came second. Second!

KA: Now which comes first?

JL: Well now the guitar comes first, because this is still a hobby which it always has been.

KA: And you’re going on doing it, are you?

JL: I’ll go on doing it.

KA: Have you written anything else – is anything else coming out, the third in the series?

JL: Well, I don’t have much time. If I had more time I’d probably write more. The publisher rang up and said have you written anything yet and I said no, I’d been writing songs because I can’t do both at once. You know, I’ve got to concentrate on the book or the songs, so I haven’t written anything else since this.

KA: We’ll look forward, nonetheless, John. Thank you very much indeed.

JL: Thank you!

[Source: This is a transcript of the video clip of the original interview]

See screencaps from this TV appearance here

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