John & Yoko on The Dick Cavett Show, 8 September 1971
Dick Cavett: 6 September 1971 was a rainy day in New York. I was thrilled that John & Yoko might appear on my TV show, so I went over to the St Regis Hotel to discuss how we could make it work. They had a really spacious room and had set up office on a huge bed with notebooks and pads and folders all around them. They seemed to be working on a lot of projects.
John opened with: ‘You know, you have the only half-way intelligent show on US television.’ So I said, ‘Well, why would you want to go on a half-way intelligent show?’ He thought that was funny.
We liked each other right away. He was a great word and language man and he sure could make me laugh. He was such an accessible person – it sounds funny to say, but I immediately felt like I had known him for quite a while. He was very good at making people feel that way.
Yoko was very sweet and pleasant and fun to talk to. I have learned a lot of Japanese since then and I wish I had had more of it then. I often remind people that Yoko was a highly regarded artist before meeting John.
John told me that they had just finished filming a dream sequence with Yoko and Fred Astaire, who they had collared in the lobby. John pulled out his 16mm camera and asked me if I would mind appearing in their film too, so we filmed the whispering and the door opening sequences from Imagine, which was fun. It was a wonderful day. And of course, as we know, they did do the TV show.
One of my favourite moments in the show is when John suddenly said (in a funny accent), ‘Dick, what’s your definition of loooove?’ That was Frosty’s favourite game to spring upon people. Some were mystified by it. It is fair to say that my opinion of David Frost made me laugh heartily.
There was a blossoming of personality in John. Harpo Marx had a quality that when he was in a room full of people, children and animals came over to him when they didn’t to anybody else. It may not be the precise quality of John’s, but there was something inviting about his look and his personality was just terrific.
The film for the song ‘Imagine’ (where John sings and plays piano and Yoko opens the shutters to let the light in) premiered on our show on 11°September 1971. The style of the film is very Yoko. It sure works for me. It’s very calming to watch and has a nice lyrical quality that I really enjoy. The lyrics for ‘Imagine’ often run through my head at different times. It has a kind of haunting quality that sticks with you.
Shirley MacLaine said on the show, ‘These two have done more to promote peace and love than any other artists in the past few years.’ I think that was true. The impact they had was deep and broad. They were right about the Vietnam War. I don’t see anything to criticize them on that. And they weren’t graduates of a university specializing in politics and world affairs, as far as I know.
John & Yoko’s interviews are still some of the most popular of all our shows. When we taped them, the audience didn’t want to leave.