As dear old Yoko has now reached the grand age of 80, let’s have a look at 5otB to be released under the moniker of The Plastic Ono Band.
‘Mother’: Lennon’s impassioned, primal scream therapy-like cry at his parents is an emotional whirlwind like no other. He summons all of his poetic force, channeling Sylvia Plath in her excruciating, forceful ‘Daddy’ and as he bellows out “Mama don’t go, Daddy come home” at his estranged parents at the song’s climax he leaves one also feeling angry at his parents. A stunning song which goes to show many young artists that when they think they’re the first to be covering a topic, it’s probably best to check the back catalogue of Dylan, Lennon and Morrissey. Right, Mr Mathers?
‘Working Class Hero’: I don’t have a favourite John Lennon song (there’s far too much to choose from), and there certainly isn’t one that I would say speaks to me more than any other, but if I was absolutely pushed I might choose this. The stanza in which Lennon discusses the way they “keep you doped with religion and sex an TV, ’til you think you’re so clever and classless and free” and goes on to sneer “but you’re still fucking peasants as far as I see” stands up against any lyric ever committed to a pop song.
‘Jealous Guy’: This straight apology from John to Yoko for his green-eyed antics and stupidity is such a beautiful love song in its simplicity and overwrought begging for forgiveness. The feeling is in the words, yes, but also in that pained vocal timbre that Lennon had – see Roxy Music’s cover for proof (as much as I admire Bryan Ferry, his is a poor imitation, perhaps it’s one of those that shouldn’t be covered as it was done so well the first time).
‘God’: Come on. Read the post below this (home page). You’ll see why I picked this song.
‘Love’: When he wasn’t prosthletysing the pious over to the way that says “we don’t know for sure, but we can’t just make a God up because of that”, putting parental issues to poetry or summing up the awful feeling that one is left with after acting on a jealous impulse, Lennon was also able to sum up exactly what love is at a human level: “love is needing to be loved”. The great thing about all of this wonderful music and numerous other songs in The Plastic Ono Band canon is not just the philosophical, poetic, polemical force of it all lyrically, but the finely realised melodic counterpoints and intriguing harmonic movements. The ‘g’ word is bandied around far too often, but nobody can deny that John Lennon was indeed that: a genius.
So that’s Yoko’s birthday celebrated then, sadly by five songs written by her dead husband. Sorry Yoko, but he was fucking good. Peace.