The first single from John Lennon’s posthumously released 1984 album Milk and Honey, “Nobody Told Me” is a great little tune that contains a very interesting line. Produced by John and Yoko, the record – and especially this single with it’s retro vocal echo effects – reminds me of Lennon’s best work with Phil Spector, and “Nobody” is among the best of Lennon’s free-association groovers epitomized by songs like “Come Together” and “I am the Walrus.” “Nobody’s” lyrics are full of random-seeming references and images – listeners are treated to bathroom Nazis, starving Chinese and a “little yellow idol to the North of Kathmandu.” However, the most interesting line finds Lennon singing about “UFOs over New York…”
The night of August 23 was no different from any other that month for John and May. John made and received phone calls, watched TV and listened to the day’s recorded work while making notes. May Pang recalls that the apartment was hot that night, but by 8 O’ Clock the night air had cooled off enough for her to have turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows to get a breeze off the river. Just off the apartment’s living room was a part of the building’s roof which also acted as a private observation deck, with a great view of east New York. Access was only granted by climbing out of a window, which Lennon often did. The haze had now cleared over New York’s skyline. At about 8:30 p.m., May decided to take a shower, leaving Lennon alone in the living room reviewing mock-ups of his new record’s cover. The cover art on the final product would be a painting by a 12 year old John Lennon. A short time later, as May was drying off, she heard John yell to her from the outside roof, “May come here right now!” Startled, she ran to John’s aid finding him standing on the roof nude and pointing wildly southeastward. As May remembered, finding John Lennon nude on the roof was not a surprise, as he had no aversion to wallowing around in that condition. What did surprise her was what he was pointing at. Just south of the building now was a brightly lit “classic” circular UFO, floating silently and less than 100 feet away from the couple. As John Lennon would later describe, “I wasn’t surprised to see the UFO really, as it looked just like the spaceships we’ve all seen on the cinema growing up, but then I realised this thing was real and so close, that I could almost touch it!”. As they watched, the UFO moved silently away. May told me that the lighting on the thing left them awe-struck, as it would change its configuration with every rotation. The object made no sound. The main structure of the craft could also be clearly seen for the duration of the event, due to the last remnants of the still setting sun. May ran back into the apartment and grabbed a 35mm camera, and once back on the roof both she and John took numerous pictures of the craft. May remembers John’s arms outstretched as he yelled at the UFO to come back and take him away! “He was very serious and I believe he really wanted that thing to take him with it back to wherever it came from, but then that was John Lennon, always looking for the next big adventure”. Soon the object passed the United Nations building and slowly veered left, crossing over the East River, then over Brooklyn and soon the UFO simply blended in with the heavy commercial air traffic in southern Long Island. John Lennon and May Pang, both shaken by the experience, climbed back into the apartment. John picked up the phone and called up his friend and noted rock photographer Bob Gruen. Lennon told his friend to come over as soon as possible as he had some film he needed developed urgently! As they waited for Gruen to arrive, John began making sketches of the object he had seen, noting its size and distance. Then John called Yoko Ono at the Dakota apartments to tell her about the UFO and as May remembers it, Yoko became upset at John, because she hadn’t seen it too, and felt that he had “left her out of all the excitement”.
Read more at Joe Nolan’s Insomnia