Jeremy Gluck (Barracudas) : top 10 favourite albums : number 4
Plastic Ono Band – John Lennon
Soul-baring is attempted by artists great and small but on this, his debut solo album, John Lennon didn’t just bare his soul, he applied paint stripper to it and, when that wasn’t adequate, put a blow torch to it. Even the most witty, abrasive, vulnerable and cynically combative of his latter day Beatles output pales next to this, one man’s surgical strike on his own psyche. You’d think people would have understood after the Second World War (which Lennon and rock’n’roll were born of) that “God is a concept by which we measure our pain” but it took the richest working class hero on the planet at the time to go beyond love minus zero into recesses of truth few glimpse without subsequently requiring ongoing outpatient mental health care. On this album Lennon doesn’t just put himself on the ropes, he strangles his emotional guts with them. “Mother” alone is enough to have you making doilies out of your own flesh. As for songs like “Remember” and “I Found Out”, anybody out of the Fifties and come of age in the Sixties can relate to their depths of disillusionment and nearly bitterness.
Yes, Lennon can be an easy target on a number of counts, but great art doesn’t count lies (or seeming ones), it kills them. Lennon set out to expose his own lies to himself, those told him by others, and those told all of us by all of them. And he did it. God knows how. Maybe by measuring his pain?