1970: The End of an Era

Tre Smith, guest writer

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“The Beatles were always a great band. Nothing more, nothing less” (McCartney).

The beginning of 1970 was filled with exciting and dreadful events. The Vietnam War raged on with no end in sight. People were thrilled about Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon and terrified of serial killers. The infamous Zodiac Killer struck repeatedly, brutally ending many innocent lives. People continued talking about the Woodstock Festival that featured artists and bands like Santana, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Category 5 Hurricane Camille smashed into the Mississippi coast, killing almost 250 people and causing $1.5 billion in damage. The Brady Bunch premiered on ABC and was an instant hit.

Joanne Lennon finally had a day off. From being a full-time waitress at Waffle House to leading her band, she rarely had a free moment. Tomorrow she would only relax. Joanne had decided that going to Macy’s with her best friend, Yoko Ono, was the perfect way to spend her leisure time.

Ring ring, ring ring

“Hey, Yoko,” Joanne asked, “Do you want to meet tomorrow morning around 9 to hang out and shop?”

“Um, yeah, I want to,” responded Yoko. “Just a second. Let me check with John.”

“Sure.”

* * *

“So John says he doesn’t care what I do,” Yoko huffed when she came back on the line.  “Lately, he hasn’t been the same. I think he is spending too much time with his stupid band.”

“Hey! The band isn’t stupid. It’s amazing!” Joanne replied, trying not to sound defensive about her sibling’s group. “They may be the best group of all time! Don’t worry about him. He’s probably just stressed about the new album.”

“No, he doesn’t seem to want to spend time with me ever. He always acts like I don’t exist or matter to him. I need to talk to him about it.”

“Before you do anything, let’s talk through it tomorrow, ok?”

“Ok, that sounds good. Bye.”

“Bye, Babe.”

* * *

Joanne woke up hours before dawn to do her usual workout. After running seven miles and finishing her core exercises, she took a shower and then dried and curled her silky, luxurious blonde hair.

She brushed and flossed her pearly white teeth. Next, she patted on foundation, crafted wickedly smoky eyes, and applied her mascara. For a finishing touch, she dabbed on highlight that made her cheekbones pop. With a spritz of perfume, she climbed into her 1967 Chevelle SS, a present to herself for last year’s birthday. She arrived at Macy’s and found Yoko waiting at the entrance.

“Hey, Boo,” shouted Yoko. “How have you been?”

“I’m happy as a pig in slop,” responded Joanne. Yoko couldn’t contain herself from laughing out loud, causing a huge scene.

“Oh my goodness, Jo. You always keep me smiling.”

“But how have you been doing? What exactly is going on with you and John?”

“Well, it’s been kind of rough. He’s still spending too much time practicing and recording with the guys. I know the band is a part of his life, but I want to be a part of it again, too. When we are together, it is perfect, but ‘being alone is very difficult’ (Ono). He is what I love the most, and I need him to feel the same about me. I don’t want the band to ruin our marriage, our future. You understand how I’m feeling, don’t you, Jo?”

“I feel you. You need to talk to John and tell him exactly what you just said to me. If he really loves you, he’ll make a change and do more to be with you. I know he loves you, Yo. He’s just distracted. Please talk to him.”

“Thank you so much, Jo, for saying that. I’m going to have a heart-to-heart with him as soon as I get back home. But for now, let’s shop!”

* * *

“Where the heck is Tristian?” demanded Bella.

“He said he had a Bible study or something, but he should be here in a minute. Just practice soloing or something,” responded Joanne.

“In order for this band to succeed, Tristian needs to be committed. How will we get famous if our drummer can’t even show up on time to practice!” yelled Bella.

“Bella, chill out! He will show up soon,” Joanne calmly replied. A few minutes later, Tristian ran in apologizing.

“Girls, I’m so sorry,” he said. “My friend and I got into a really deep conversation about Daniel 6, and I lost track of time.”

“First, who in the world is Daniel, and why were you studying about him?” Bella quizzed angrily. “And second, why don’t you care about our band? How are we going to get better if you don’t make practice a priority? Do we need to get a new drummer, maybe one who isn’t always late because of that Jesus crap?”

“No, we don’t need a new drummer,” Tristan soothed. “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again, but don’t call Jesus crap.”

“You two calm down” Joanne yelled, “and talk about religion later. Let’s jam.” The three played for the next several hours with Joanne on lead vocals, bass, and piano. Bella played lead guitar, and Tristian drummed his heart out. Even after Bella and Tristian left, Joanne kept at it. She always stayed longer, fine-tuning her skills.

Soon it was time for Joanne to report to work. She drove to Waffle House and clocked in. Taking orders, frying hash browns, flipping eggs, chatting with customers, and mopping the floor was her life for 45-plus hours a week. Her manager was a short, elderly woman who took out her frustration on Joanne every day. Joanne really hated the job but needed the consistent paycheck.

Today was busier than usual. Customers were flying in, talking about the Kansas City Chief’s recent Super Bowl win and the New York Yankees’ chances at the pennant. Rumors of the Beatles breaking up swirled as well.

“Did you hear about the drama between McCartney and Lennon?”

“Yoko is getting too involved with the band, and she’s making Lennon have second thoughts. She’s going to ruin everything.”

“That stupid girl is going to be the end of the greatest band of all time.”

“Hey,” Joanne piped in, “Those are just ugly rumors. I’m sure the Beatles will be fine, and I’m positive Yoko isn’t going to ‘end’ them.”

“Oh whatever, lady. You don’t know anything. You’re just a waitress.”

“Ok, honey,” Joanne responded. “We’ll see.”

* * *

A few weeks passed, and Joanne didn’t hear anything from Yoko. She was starting to get worried but knew her friend would tell her if something big happened. Life for Jo went on as usual.

Work at Waffle House was getting harder. Joanne’s old supervisor quit, and the new one was even worse. Joanne had to stay positive though, because she wouldn’t be able to keep her apartment if she lost her source of income. On the drive home after her shift, Joanne got a call from Yoko.

Ring ring, ring ring

“Hey, girl,” Joanne answered. “How are things going.”

“Hey,” a familiar voice responded. “It isn’t Yoko. It’s me, your brother John.”

“Hey, John! It’s been awhile. How’s life?”

“Well, not good actually. You know, usually I just like to live a chill life, but recently it’s been the opposite. The band has been having problems. McCartney and Starr said that I was bringing in Yoko too much, but she inspires me. So to keep the band together, I started to spend more time with music than with her. So then our marriage started having problems. I kept waffling between spending time with her and the band, but I’m done doing that.”

“Oh my goodness! That’s awful, brother. What are you going to do?”

“I’m ending it.”

“Ending what? Your marriage?”

“No, no. Nothing can drive me and my love apart. I’m going to leave the Beatles.”

* * *

The news hit Joanne hard. It wasn’t just her brother’s band but her favorite band that was coming to an end. She knew the breakup was for the best but still couldn’t shake the blues.

She tried to distract herself by working more, but it didn’t help. She couldn’t find closure, because she couldn’t talk about it. The Beatles hadn’t informed the rest of the world that they were going to end, so Joanne had to keep the awful news to herself. All she could do was wait until the breakup became official.

* * *

April 10 was a hard day for music lovers around the globe. The old and the young, the rich and the poor, men and women, sinners and saints all cried together when Paul McCartney spoke the sad words that dissolved the Beatles, who never reunited as a foursome. It was the end of an era, but the songs of the legendary musicians continue to survive the test of time.

Works Cited

McCartney, Paul. “Paul McCartney Quotes.” https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/                                20127.Paul_McCartney. n.d. Web. Feb. 8, 2018.

Ono, Yoko. “Yoko Ono Quotes.” https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/yoko_ono. n.d. Web.                     Feb. 8, 2018.

Bibliography

Doggett, Peter. You Never Give Me Your Money. Harper Paperbacks, 2011. Print.

Gilmore, Mikal. “Why the Beatles Broke Up.” Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/               music/news/why-the-beatles-broke-up-20090903. n.d. Web. Feb. 8, 2018.

Wenner, Jann. Lennon Remembers. Verso, 2011. Print.

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1 Comment

One Response to “1970: The End of an Era”

  1. Hope Hunnicutt on March 14th, 2018 1:25 pm

    Woah. Your descriptions and dialogue between Yoko and Joanne were amazing. I really got to know who they were without even knowing it. Before reading your story, I didn’t know much about why the Beatles broke up, but you showed why they did in such an interesting way. I was glued to the story every step of the way between the band practices and Joanne’s shifts at Waffle House. Really well done!

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1970: The End of an Era