The Transcriber: John & Yoko, the Last Interview

The Transcriber, Linda Goetz in 1981. Photo by Maria Demarest

In 1981 Linda Goetz, a friend and the owner of Coastside Secretarial, had completed an exciting project: transcribing the tapes of an August 1980 interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was to be the last interview with the superstar couple. (Lennon was murdered in December 1980).

David Sheff, a free lance writer then living in the Coastside’s artist community of Montara, was a mutual acquaintance of both Linda and me. It was David who had interviewed John and Yoko for a 1980 Playboy magazine article and a book, “Last Interview: John Lennon and Yoko Onoâ€?.

At the time of this interview, Linda’s office was located in the historic R. Guy Smith Building, Highway 1 in Moss Beach. She now works out of a cute office at the southern end of Main Street in Half Moon Bay.

June: Tell me, what was it like listening to the tapes?

Linda: When you do these tapes, you get the real feeling that the printed word cannot convey. With the John Lennon tapes, we paused to get every ‘ooh and ahh’ and any nuance going on in the background.

June: How did David Sheff get the interview?

Linda: Before the interview was granted to David, Yoko had to meet him, do his astrology chart and see if it was right.

June: I guess his planets were in alignment! How many tapes were there?

Linda: 20. It took me two weeks to transcribe, having people work around the clock. Each tape took about five hours to transcribe.

June: How much time did David Sheff spend with John and Yoko?

Linda: About three weeks of intenesely being with the Lennons at the studio–but mostly at their New York City apartment.

June: The tapes present a very personal glimpse of the Lennons at home.

Linda: There’s a time in the apartment when John goes over to the refrigeraqtor and he’s looking for somethhing to drink while Yoko’s on the couch. He pulls open the refrigerator and says, ‘Oh, this is what’s been smelling! This cat food–how long has this been in here?’ And you just get this womanly aspect of Yoko when she says, ‘That’s all right. I’ll deal with it tomorrow.’

June: How did their voices sound?:

Linda: John was very aware of being taped and he had a beautiful voice, crisp, clear and melodic. Yoko mumbled. John would turn the tape recorder around when she talked and said, ‘Here, she mumbles a lot’.

June: You worked on these tapes after Lennon had been tragically shot. How did that make you feel?

Linda: Everything he said, I was thinking of in relationship to, well, now he’s dead. At one point Lennon commentedthat he was only 43-years-old, and he said, ‘I’ve got a good 20 more years to go, God willing.’ He was making plans to write children’s books, to get back into his music and go on tour again.

June: Any other insights?

Linda: I get the feeling that anything Yoko has to say in the next couple of years will be whatever John Lennon would have said to the public. They were so close to each other.