The second, most consistent, issue regarding Lennon’s view of Eastman involves his repeated surprise both at McCartney’s choice of her as his spouse and at the other couple’s evidently successful marriage. Lennon was not alone in this regard: According to various Beatles insiders, virtually everyone in the band’s circle, from Ringo Starr to Alistair Taylor to Ray Connolly to Peter Brown, expressed surprised about McCartney’s marriage to Eastman. Lennon publicly confessed surprise to McCabe at the seeming rapidity of the other couple’s relationship — “one minute she’s riding with us to the airport and the next minute she’s married to him.” In the same interview, Lennon also opined his own failure to understand Eastman’s appeal, describing her as “a bit tweedy.” (1)
The majority of Lennon’s comments (with one notable exception)over time indicate that overall he failed to grasp why McCartney chose and remained with Eastman. As previously noted, Lennon implied the marriage would be short lived no fewer than three times: in his undated 1971 drafted response to Eastman: in his November 1971 response to McCartney’s Melody Maker interview, where he again estimated a two-year timeline before McCartney came to his senses, and explicitly in his, Ono and Klein’s 1971 interviews with Peter McCabe. In the latter, Lennon, Ono and Klein reveal their varying predictions on how long the Eastman/McCartney marriage would endure. Klein’s original estimate of two years, given by Ono — “And so Klein thinks he’ll give Paul two years Linda-wise, you know” — was dismissed by Lennon as too short; Lennon now upped his own estimate to five years, but only because of McCartney’s role as a father: “Paul treasures things like children.” Ono, in turn, argued that Lennon’s longer timeline demonstrated his greater understanding of McCartney. We have no evidence indicating what McCartney and Eastman’s response was to these repeated predictions regarding the imminent end of their marriage. However, in his book Lennon vs. McCartney, author Adam Thomas argues that McCartney’s song “Some People Never Know,” on the album “Wild Life,” is a declaration by McCartney that Lennon failed to understand the true depth of his love for Eastman.
According to less documented sources, Lennon continued to anticipate the end of the Eastman/McCartney marriage. Journalist Ray Connolly declared that Lennon expressed surprise and even amusement at McCartney’s evident ability to remain faithful to Eastman. Additional, unverifiable sources also argue that, even in later years, Lennon seemingly resented the other couple’s apparent happiness: as McCartney later related, Lennon once dismissed McCartney as “Pizza and Fairy Tales” after a phone conversation in which McCartney had detailed his home life. Both Robert Rosen, who read Lennon’s diaries following the musician’s death, and Lennon assistant Fred Seaman, argued that Lennon and Ono were obsessed with ensuring that they promoted to the press an image of their marriage that was viewed as superior to the McCartney’s own seemingly contented marriage. John Green, their tarot reader, described doing a reading for Lennon following a dinner with the McCartney’s where Lennon evidently regarded the other couple as being insufferably happy. Green then provided Lennon with the prediction, (evidently telling the musician what he wanted to hear), that the happy image the other couple had projected was a complete façade; Eastman and McCartney were secretly miserable, and the couple would divorce within a year. Green also states that Lennon expressed incomprehension at the marriage’s longevity. Geoffrey Guiliano, not the most reputable of biographers, claims to have done a phone interview with Lennon friend and Lost Weekend confidante Harry Nilsson, in which Guiliano inquired as to whether Lennon had ever expressed to Nilsson any sexual interest in Eastman. Guiliano interpreted Nilsson’s reported response — “John didn’t want to fuck Linda: John wanted to fuck Paul” — as indicating that any sexual attraction Lennon may have felt towards Eastman was driven not by her, but by his desire to mess up McCartney’s life and assert his dominance over his old friend and rival.
However, despite these examples, Lennon’s comments also display insight into how a significant aspect of Eastman’s appeal included her willingness to provide McCartney with a stable family. Lennon noted how McCartney had always enjoyed the domesticity and family life with his father, Jim, and brother, Mike. Asher’s determination to continue with her acting career had admittedly, according to the Authorized Biography, been a point of contention between her and McCartney, who wanted her to focus more on him and their anticipated domestic life together. Eastman, already a single mother, came equipped with what Lennon described to McCabe as “a ready-made family.” (Note: Linda was not the first single mother McCartney dated: In Tune In, Lewisohn reveals that McCartney also had dated Thelma Pickles, another divorcee with a young child, (and an ex-girlfriend of Lennon’s) following the group’s return from Hamburg). In his own conversations in Many Years From Now regarding Linda’s entrance into his life, McCartney seemingly endorsed Lennon’s assessment: noting that it was Eastman’s efforts to take diligent care of her daughter, Heather, and to manage the house at Cavendish that prompted his admiration, explicitly describing her as a ‘woman,’ in contrast to the many ‘girls’ already in his life.
Lennon’s public statements on Eastman tapered off following his early 1972 détente with McCartney, and his press silence in the mid-to-late 1970s continued this pattern. Eastman and Ono’s interaction during Lennon’s lost weekend was evidently unremarkable: in her memoirs May Pang, Lennon’s girlfriend at the time, has little to say regarding Lennon’s comments on/views of Eastman, although her book does include pictures of a seemingly happy McCartney and Eastman coming up to visit Lennon and Pang when they were in New York. Its notable that his Double Fantasy era comments on her are among his most positive, in that they defend Eastman (and Ono) rather than finding fault. Whether this pattern would have continued had Lennon lived is up for debate, given how various factors in Lennon’s own personal and professional lives seemingly impacted the negativity or positivity of his interview comments.
Ultimately, it appears that, even after the breakup-era acrimony had removed the obvious point of contention between them, Lennon remained largely unimpressed with Eastman. Furthermore, her and McCartney’s evidently contented marriage reportedly provoked feelings of envy and competition from both Lennon and Ono. In You Never Give me Your Money, Doggett notes how, for Lennon, “insecurity was almost instinctive.” As Doggett describes it, Lennon and Ono together could make McCartney feel intimidated and marginalized. On the other side, Lennon’s reaction to Eastman both as an individual and as part of a couple with McCartney apparently and primarily prompted resentment.
(1) Note: the phrase “tweedy” was also used by a writer in Mojo’s 10 Years That Shook the World in order to describe Cynthia Lennon prior to her Brigitte Bardot makeover period. As the phrase seems to be a British expression, could one of our readers from across the pond translate “tweedy” for us non-Brits?
If I have overlooked other sources on the subject that readers believe could add to the discussion please, let me know.