FOUND IN THE CONNECTION (Rattling Loose End #13, Beatle Wives and John Lennon, Working Class Hero)

“Brian (Epstein) had seemed interested in what the Maharishi had to offer but it was a bank-holiday weekend and he was committed to spending it with friends at his house in Sussex. He said he would join us later. Neil Aspinall and Mal Evans, the two roadies who had looked after the Beatles since the Cavern Club days and went everywhere with them, were not there either so we had to carry our own baggage and fight our way through the crowds onto the platform.

“In the rush Cynthia (Lennon) was left behind–she was probably carrying the suitcases while John, empty-handed and thoughtless as ever, made a dash for it. And so the train pulled away and I shall never forget the sight of Cynthia running down the platform shrieking at John to wait. But Peter Brown arranged for Neil Aspinall to drive her to Bangor in his car and she arrived not long after the rest of us.”

(Source: Pattie Boyd, Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Me, 2007)

Magical Mystery Tour was launched by a party whose lavishness held no doubt of Sergeant Pepper-like success. The Beatles specified fancy dress. John Lennon came as a teddy boy, accompanied by Cynthia in Quality Street crinolines. George Martin came as the Duke of Edinburgh, Lulu as Shirley Temple, and Patti (sic), George Harrison’s wife, as an Eastern belly dancer. John, that night, made no secret of powerfully desiring Patti Harrison. He danced with Patti time after time, leaving Cynthia so disconsolate in her crinolines that Lulu was roused to sisterly indignation. The climax of the party was the moment at which a ringleted Shirley Temple, clutching an immense lollipop, confronted the chief Beatle in his greaser outfit and roundly berated him for being so mean to his wife.”

(Source: Phillip Norman, Shout: The Beatles in Their Generation, 1981)

“I was very careful and paranoid because I didn’t want my wife, Cyn, to know that there really was something going on outside of the household. I’d always had some kind of affairs going on, so I was trying to be sophisticated in writing about an affair. But in such a smoke-screen way that you couldn’t tell. But I can’t remember any specific woman it had to do with.”

John Lennon, on the writing of “Norwegian Wood.”

(Source: David Sheff, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 2000)

None of this is news, of course (though I’m reading Boyd’s memoir just now, so that little anecdote was at least new to me).

And I frankly don’t care all that much about the private lives of famous people. Lots of my favorite artists–Lennon included–were less than admirable human beings all around. Just because I would probably want to punch them in the face if I met them for five minutes doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy, or even love, their art.

But I’ve always wondered if Lennon’s intensely slavish fan-boys in the rock press (and for inspiring slavishness among the rock press, even Bob Dylan comes a long way second to “the head Beatle”) admired him in spite of his cruel, whiny, brand of misogyny or because of it?

I mean, I know it wasn’t really the chord changes, so it had to be something….Right?

6 thoughts on “FOUND IN THE CONNECTION (Rattling Loose End #13, Beatle Wives and John Lennon, Working Class Hero)

  1. Right! …..’Something’………..probably my favorite Beatles song, because it was sung in the ‘Aloha Concert’. Mother always demanded, ‘If you can’t find …….something …..nice to say, …say much of nothing!

  2. I’ve always found this side of Lennon sort of bemusing, because if Elvis had ever treated his wife like dirt and bragged about it in public, the same people who lionize John would have used it as a stick to beat E for eternity…Such is life!

  3. Also, I must add….a very prescient and wise observation on your part Johnny. I really didn’t know until just recently, the stunning fact…. of Lennons’ dismaying history, (to say the least) with women….especially the treatment of his first wife.

  4. Yeah, I think we all find it a bit dispiriting when a public figure turns out to be less than meets the eye. I always try to keep the art separated from the artist, but it’s natural to wish people were a bit better….My real problem isn’t with Lennon, per se, as much as with intellectuals who basically take the attitude that personal shortcomings are no big deal if they attach to someone they love, but find those same qualities deeply meaningful (and eminently attackable) if they can be used to attack someone they don’t love (usually for “political” reasons.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.