Much of John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band touches upon that “lonely little kid”, with the tracks Mother, Remember, and the chillingly monotone My Mummy’s Dead all addressing themes of family conflict and childhood abandonment – both in their lyrics, and in their simple musical intensity.
“The worst pain is that of not being wanted,” Lennon remarked. “Of realizing your parents do not need you in the way you need them. This lack of love went into my eyes and into my mind. The only reason I am a star is because of my repression. Nothing would have driven me through all that if I was ‘normal’. The only reason I went for that goal is that I wanted to say: ‘Now, Mummy, Daddy, will you love me?’”
As he processes this painful past through the album, so too does Lennon shed idols of the present, using the album’s 10th track, God, to renounce Buddha, Elvis, Jesus, Bob Dylan as much as his former bandmates and his conceptions of success. It was, by his own description, a course of liberation, as much as love.
“I’ve been successful as an artist and have been happy and unhappy, and I’ve been unknown in Liverpool or Hamburg and been happy and unhappy. But what Yoko’s taught me is what real success is – the success of my personality, the success of my relationship with her, my relationship with our child, my relationship with the world – and to be happy when I wake up.”
“I don’t believe in Beatles”, he concludes in God, “I just believe in me / Yoko and me / That’s reality.”