John Lennon had a reputation as being arrogant and not suffering fools gladly. More than one associate over the years has said he could intimidate those around him with a sharp word from his legendary wit. And yet….
I just finished reading a number of books about John’s last decade on earth and, while I’m not saying I believed every word, one does come away with a few impressions that are consistent throughout the books and they belie the common folklore about John.
The most significant lie is that John and Yoko had one of those ‘meant to be’ relationships. Try toxic instead. Yoko was one crazy woman back then and John was not much better as a man. When you read about his tantrums, his depression, his flings, his fear of losing weight (I had never thought of John as being weight-obsessed but in his later life, he reportedly kept his weight to 135 pounds which is quite light for a guy nearly 6 feet tall), you can see he was a handful.
But Yoko made everything worse. She played upon John’s insecurities and insisted that she was every bit the artist John was which is not merely a double but a quadruple fantasy. It was Yoko who insisted every other track on the Double Fantasy album be one of her songs because even she knew that, if relegated to one side of the LP, no one would listen.
In my mind, Yoko brought out the worst in John, and made his crazy behavior even more pronounced. Hey, you’d drink too if you were married to Yoko Ono. Is it just a coincidence that John tried heroin when she came on the scene?
She was the devil on John’s shoulder whereas Paul, he was the angel.
Paul brought out the best in John who was driven by insecurities throughout his life (probably as a result of being semi-abandoned by his mother). Paul made John a better musician, a better songwriter and most likely, a better person.
Both he and Yoko were the twin major influences in John’s life but look at the difference. All Paul did was help to make John the world’s most admired pop star. All Yoko did was to bring John her bad juju.
In fairness, Yoko did bear John a son–surely the best thing she ever did for John. All the rest she did–to me, it was unforgivable. I don’t blame Yoko for breaking up the Beatles; I blame her for making sure John and Paul never wrote another song again for, for that, she has to live with herself.
The rehabilitation of crazy Yoko in recent years is, in my opinion, undeserved. I wonder why no one has written a major biography of her but I’m guessing her lawyers keep legitimate journalists at bay with threats of legal action.