Early in the process of putting together the John Lennon Box of Vision, I was given a tour of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex exhibit: “John Lennon the New York City Years.” The tour was given to me by Karla Merrifield, who among other things, oversees the John Lennon photo archives. Karla graciously offered me the unbelievable opportunity to include in the project anything I thought would work. Of course it was tempting to say, “okay, everything,” but that would have disorted the focus of what I was trying to do. There were a few things, however, that i knew would be perfect: John’s handwritten lyrics to “Grow Old With Me,” the song based on the Robert Browning poem that was one of the last songs John wrote. I knew that could be a good way to end the Catalography. The other was John’s handwritten “sound notes”– his direction for how the songs should sound– for “Double Fantasy” and “Milk and Honey.” At that point I did not have a clear theme for the Catalography, but I was starting to hone in on it.
It was while putting together the LP art book that I had the idea for the John Lennon Time Capsule. (More on the specifics of why and how that came about later). So, when I turned next to the Catalography, I finally realized that it should reflect the “Time Capsule” concept.
It was at that stage that I called up Bruce Spizer, who had written the text for the Beatles Catalography, and I asked him if he would be interested in writing a new essay on John (he was). And I began to search out some old album advertisements for John’s, and John and Yoko’s, albums.
With the help of my art director, Eric Roinestad, we began to lay out the Catalography book. It begins with a full, beautiful print of the Iain Macmillan portrait of John that is also used in stylized way on the cover of the slipcase box. It ends with the “Grow Old With Me” handwritten lyrics, with an additional bonus: courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery of London I was able to use the “adapted” portraits of John and Yoko, based on original photos of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In between, a trip through John, and John and Yoko’s catalog that I think gives the context for a long time fan to enjoy a new look (perhaps) at John’s catalog, and for new fans to begin to explore and discover it. And, for fans in 2040, when the John Lennon Time capsule is unsealed, to be intrigued enough to want to learn more about this 20th century hero. Below are a few of the elements included (in miniature form i know– some close-ups soon). I look forward to hearing your reactions when you see the final book.