Pittsburgher's story: How I got a shout-out in a John Lennon song

Written by Scott Mervis on .


John-LennonPittsburgh had its own John Lennon stalker -- only she left a love letter.
And Melissa (Swoager) Egan, who grew up in Castle Shannon and recently located to Chicago, believes she got a shout-out in one of Lennon's last songs.
Listen closely. I think she's right.
Here's her story in her words: 
"I've been a fan of the Beatles since I was a little girl, and have won many trivia contests on them. In 1980, I was in NYC with my parents, a sweet & (if I do say so myself) well built young thing, and decided that I was going to do my best to meet John Lennon. The funny part is that I really had no intent of being a groupie or anything, I just wanted to meet a Beatle, but especially John. On 12 August 1980, I put on a little yellow sundress, 3" heels (Remember Candies? Yep!), and to my embarrassment, my parents came with me as we took a cab to the Dakota Building.

"The Dakota is a squared-doughnut shape, with a large arch leading to a fountain in the middle. The entrance is on W. 72nd Street, and at the time, you could walk right into the Courtyard, and even sit on the edge of the fountain in the middle, if you'd like. The main entry was almost into the Courtyard, on the right and up a three steps - very small, in the scheme of things. I decided to hang out on the outer perimeter of the building, but at the entrance. My parents took pictures, I took pictures, we all tried to figure out who lived where, where Rosemary's Baby was filmed, etc. For three hours, I patiently waited, walking back & forth, until one of the guards waved me inside. My dad stood within sight while I talked to the security guard, right inside. He asked me who I was waiting for, and I said, "John Lennon & Yoko Ono." I was savvy enough to know to include her!
The guard told me that I had just missed them, that they were recording a new album, and probably wouldn't be back until after 6 p.m., have dinner, then return to the studio. Our plane was due to leave by then! Seeing my disappointment, the guard asked if I'd like to leave a message, and I said sure. Somehow, I found the right words to say, to thank John for music which had enriched my life, and to thank Yoko for being such a constant in John's life (okay, I wasn't wild about that part). I ended by saying something to the effect that life can be strange, but if they found themselves near Pittsburgh, they should know that they have a friend there. It wasn't mushy or groupie-ish, more of a letter of thanks and I got to write it on Dakota stationary! I watched the guard put it in John's letterbox, thanked the guard and left with disappointment.

"You know the next part - John & Yoko made a last album, "Double Fantasy," and less than a month later, John was shot & killed. He stumbled up those same three steps, and said, "I'm shot," as he collapsed exactly where I wrote to him. I was in a daze, except for one small thing: at the very end of "Starting Over", you hear an airport-type PA system voice saying, "Love Airlines, Flight 12, Pittsburgh."  Hmmm.... Also, the gates to the Dakota were closed at that point, and a new security station built on the outside of the gate.

"About a year or two later, a book came out, detailing each day of the last year of John's life. On 12 August, he & Yoko came back from the studio, picked up a solitary note from a fan (!), had dinner, relaxed, then returned to the recording studio to finish "Starting Over". In the next few years, whenever I would talk to those who make their money on Beatle history, I would tell them the story and ask their opinion. Every one of them said that was exactly something John would have done - put a little "hello" in a song without being overt about it. It made me feel good, I admit. I should also say that I know a couple local disc jockeys (formerly with 3WS) and they REALLY felt that John had been saying hello.


 "One morning, I heard a team of "Beatleologists" on the radio fielding questions about the Beatles, and asked people to call in. I did, told my story, and they were seriously impressed. One of them actually said, "You know, you got the best of the deal - a lot of people who hadmet John thought he was a real a**hole!" A few more years went by, and these same Beatleologists were on my favorite radio station again. After some banter, the one said, "Hey, does that chick who thinks she was mentioned in "Starting Over" still listen?" My dj friend said, "Melissa, call in NOW!!!" so I did. The guy told me that he had been at a studio party, talked to Yoko Ono, and thought he'd mention my story. She immediately said, "I remember her! She wrote such a niceletter, instead of the usual groupie sh*t, so when we went back to the studio that night, we thought we'd put a little mention in there. John figured that, if she really was a fan, she'd know it was for her. Wasn't her name something like Melinda, Melissa...? I know she lived in Pittsburgh." The guy said, "She knows!"

"So, it wasn't my imagination! If you listen to the very end of "Starting Over", you can hear it, and it was confirmed by Yoko Ono herself! To this day, I have never met a Beatle, but, as the man said, I may have gotten the best part of the deal!"
The reference is at about 3:26 in the song

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