What kind of magical mystery turn would John Lennon’s life had taken if he were still with us? The ex-Beatle, who would have blown out 65 candles on his birthday cake on Sunday, would be a computer geek living in New York, guesses his widow, Yoko Ono.
“He would have jumped on Internet Web sites and computers, that kind of thing, because he always liked something new,” she tells The Post. “Musically, too. You can these days go to the computer and set up things and create scores. That would have been very interesting to him.”
As a potential birthday present to fans, Yoko reveals that a few more of Lennon’s songs are in the vault, including tunes recorded on cassette tapes with Lennon accompanying himself on guitar. Three such songs debuted in “Lennon” the musical, which closed after only six weeks.
“I didn’t just want to make a CD out of the cassette tapes and put it out. So each song has to really have a presence and put out in a way that is fair to that song,” she says. “‘India, India’ and ‘I Don’t Want to Lose You’ fit into that musical so well.”
But before all you millions of Beatles fans think there’s a huge treasure trove of Lennon penned tunes, calm down.
“There’s more, there’s more,” teases Yoko, adding, “I wouldn’t say a lot.”
Every year on Oct. 9, Yoko lights a candle in the window of her apartment in the Dakota to commemorate her late husband’s birthday and “just to say hi to the fans putting candles around the ‘Imagine’ circle,” she says, referring to the memorial in Central Park celebrating Lennon’s most famous song.
If he were still here, he’d be living in New York – he considered himself a New Yorker, Yoko says.
“For once he was feeling relaxed, because, after Beatlemania and all that, he couldn’t go out,” she says. “In New York City, he thought it was OK for him to walk around and go into the park. He would have been doing that. He’d be going to local coffee shops and chatting with people there, things like that.”
Sometimes Yoko feels like her husband never left. She thinks about him constantly and, nearly 25 years after his death, still feels his presence.
“It’s very difficult to explain. The thing that happened was a long, long time ago, but … I feel like he’s still around, so [I wonder] why isn’t he just coming out of the kitchen, out of the next room or something,” she says. “That’s how it is. I feel that way all the time.”
In addition to the honorary candle, Yoko, who married Lennon in 1969, will honor the musician’s birthday with “Come Together,” a SoHo gallery exhibit displaying more than 100 pieces of Lennon’s artwork – his original drawings and signed pieces as well as limited-edition prints.
The collection – on view from today through Sunday at the nameless space at 102 Wooster St. ( 595-5537) – includes rare, Lennon-signed pieces from the “Bag-One Portfolio.”
That series was Lennon’s wedding present to Yoko, which chronicled their wedding, honeymoon and the famous bed-in. When the lithographs of the drawings were first shown at a London Gallery in 1970, they were confiscated by Scotland Yard due to their erotic content.
The SoHo show also includes prints of Lennon drawings that were subtly tinted and signed by Yoko, as well as colorized sketches Lennon inked for Yoko and Lennon’s son Sean.
“The fact that John’s work is so popular now is so incredible,” Yoko says.
One of her favorites features John floating on a cloud, with the phrase “He tried to face reality” written underneath and a bright yellow sun beaming below. “It’s beautiful, actually,” she says.
The pieces, which depict everyday activities (such as Lennon playing the piano) as well as imaginative ones (an elephant in bed counting sheep; a woman who appears to be giving birth to the world), reveal a playful side of Lennon, one that might be overshadowed by his tragic end.
“You don’t remember how fun he was, because he passed away. We were all sad, so there’s a certain seriousness about his life,” Yoko says.
“He had a sense of humor, you know, and this is fun stuff. And I really think that it’s so important that it comes out now because people are frightened, especially after all sorts of things that happened, and, it’s good to remind people life can be fun.
“Life is fun. You can make it fun. There’s a side of us that’s feeling … dreading every day, because it’s getting very heavy, but we have to remember that we should be thankful about life and to be happy while we can. Remember, there’s love.”
Her busy projects keep Lennon on top of her mind as well.
“I do feel like he’s around in some way because I’m doing so much this year, especially with his stuff, and the scope and weight of it is incredible,” she says. “I’m also doing all my stuff. I’ve never been this busy in my life!”
But Yoko’s still stinging over the disappointing outcome of the “Lennon” musical.
“I’m very upset that it was closed, but I also know that everything is a blessing in disguise,” she says, optimistically. “It was a very good show, and it’s amazing that they suddenly decided to close, but they did.”
We miss you, John!