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Did you have to eat meat when you were imprisoned in Japan in 1980?
from Noelia Vera Alcala, Navarra, Spain
No, I didn't have to. The food was really strange in there, actually. In the morning we got seaweed soup, which was like a broth, together with one of those white bread rolls that are used for hot dogs and a little sachet of marmalade. It was a combination that almost made me throw up a few times. But I learned to pick at it because I wasn't sure how long I was going to be in there and I didn't want to lose too much weight.
I was very keen to be just one of the crowd in there, so when they offered me a Western-style bath, in private, I said that I'd rather go for the communal bath with all the others, which was a rather funny experience because the female guards were watching.
Was 'Dear Friend' about John Lennon, and 'Let Me Roll It' a deliberate Lennon pastiche?
from Marzanna Pipan, Wroclaw, Poland
'Dear Friend' was written about John, yes. I don't like grief and arguments, they always bug me. Life is too precious, although we often find ourselves guilty of doing it. So after John had slagged me off in public I had to think of a response, and it was either going to be to slag him off in public - and some instinct stopped me, which I'm really glad about - or do something else. So I worked on my attitude and wrote 'Dear Friend', saying, in effect, let's lay the guns down, let's hang up our boxing gloves.
'Let Me Roll It' was not really a Lennon pastiche, although my use of tape echo did sound more like John than me. But tape echo was not John's exclusive territory! And you have to remember that, despite the myth, there was a lot of commonality between us in the way that we thought and the way that we worked.
What do you consider is the stronger: your sense of melody or ability as a wordsmith?
from Tony Taylor, Skelmersdale, England
Probably my sense of melody, because it comes easiest to me. But I hate to be classed as a melodist
because I would consider 'Maybe I'm Amazed', 'Blackbird', 'Lady Madonna', 'Paperback Writer', 'Eleanor Bdgby' and a whole bunch of other songs as being quite good, lyrically.
So I don't think of myself as one or the other, but if forced into a corner I'd have to admit that melody comes easiest to me.
What is the story behind a song called 'Penina'which I believe you wrote for a Portuguese band leader in 1968? Might you ever record it yourself?
from Petra Nascimento, Lisbon, Portugal
I went to Portugal on holiday and returned to the hotel one night slightly the worse for a few drinks. There was a band playing and I ended up on the drums. The hotel was called Penina, I made up a song with that name, someone made enquiries about it and I gave it to them. And, no, I shouldn't think I'd ever record it myself!
Considering all the things that rock stars can say and get away with these days do you ever wish that your fame had come along a little later so that your opinions and actions wouldn't have been subjected to such microscopic attention?
from Susan Dahlstedt, Wheaton, IL, USA
No, because when I have something important to say, perhaps about peace or the environment or vegetarianism, my celebrity status allows me to reach more people.