by Vivian Janov
I was recently browsing in the bookstore and came across the January publication of "Uncut", an attractive London magazine. What caught my eye was an engaging black and white glossy photo of John Lennon on the cover and in large print 'WORLD EXCLUSIVE! Lennon - The Untold Story by Yoko Ono.'
I turned to the article by Carol Clerk. There are pages and pages of wonderful photos and a question and answer interview given by Yoko.
In it, Yoko discusses some of their experiences in Primal Therapy and it's impact on John's songwriting, especially "Mother" from John's first post-Beatle album.
The following is an excerpt from "Uncut" magazine:
John's songs are just as significant now as when they were first released, influencing successive generations of musicians. What do you think it is about his work that's so enduring?
"I think that John was almost devastatingly honest. His songs are still giving something to people, the songs have a kind of eternal energy and it's not an illusion. It's a real energy that he acquired through a very hard life. And I really like the fact that John's spirit is growing in each one of us - in many different ways, I think - but it is growing. That's something that we share."
'MOTHER' from John's first post-Beatles album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, release in 1970. More vividly than any other track, it shows the effect on his work of Janov's Primal Therapy. How readily did John take to the idea of Primal Therapy?
"Very readily, he was very quick."
He had a lot of pain to get rid of?
"Of course, of course. He was a very pained person, so that's why I was just joking and saying he was a moaner. He's got this side because he had a terrible childhood. Well, some people had worse childhood's I'm sure, but what counts is how he felt and he felt terrible about it...mother and father splitting and both of them too busy to think about John."
"Many books were sent to him, and one day there was this Primal Scream book and he was saying, 'Oh, that's like what you do on-stage to me,' and he went on to read it and said, 'This is incredible'."
"And then we both decided that we had to invite this guy over to England, and Arthur and Vivian Janov came to Ascot and we discussed this and it sounded like it was legit. So later we went to L.A., and the Primal Therapy that we went to was really good for both of us, but especially for John."
What does it involve?
"It's just a matter of breaking the wall that's there in yourself and come out and let it all hang out to the point that you start crying, and of course, for men it's very difficult, especially in those days - men were not supposed to cry. And so he didn't want to cry. And at one point he had to, and he started crying, which is very healthy and so it's good that he released some anger and the repression he had and he felt very good about that. For women, crying's slightly different, but for men, especially - it's very important that he went through that. I think that made a big difference with John and he relaxed more..."
"We went away, we did the sessions and everything. And that's where the main ideas of many of the songs came to him, in L.A., that so-called primal album (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band). The main bulk of it, he was already writing it in L.A."
When he was recording "Mother", did he put himself back into a therapy situation?
"It wasn't like, 'Let's do a therapy session here and, OK, this is at the right time to start screaming' (laughing). No, no. But he remembered that feeling and... it's more like he was going back to the days of when he wanted to scream, 'Mother', not the therapy itself, but, like, he was able to go back to that childhood, that memory."
Did he ever manage to resolve his feelings about his parents?
"I think he was very civil to Fred Lennon, his father. He felt like he wanted to be kind of civilized about it but he still had some anger, of course, but he came around a bit. His mother - he was never really angry at his mother. I think that's what was very difficult to get over, the fact that he lost her twice, I think. But also his memory of his mother was of a very, very beautiful and fun-loving person, and it was just painful to watch it. The pain was still there. It never disappeared..."
"He almost felt not only saddened that his mother didn't see him become the successful Beatle, but he almost felt guilty in some ways and that was really very sad."
Yoko's voice trails away quietly.
I look over her shoulder, noticing the cheerful, everyday tiles with fruit and vegetable designs on the wall above the sink and the work surfaces. The very ordinariness of details like this only serves to underline the most extraordinary life and time of John and Yoko.