Mendips Lost In Weybridge

 

  1. I'm a Loser
  2. Help!
  3. Yes It Is
  4. You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
  5. Nowhere Man
  6. Girl
  7. In My Life
  8. Rain
  9. She Said, She Said
  10. Doctor Robert
  11. Tomorrow Never Knows
  12. I'm Only Sleeping
  13. Strawberry Fields Forever
  14. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
  15. Good Morning, Good Morning

Sitting In His Nowhere Land

Shortly after the first tidal wave of Beatlemania was over, Lennon fell into a depression. Living in Weybridge, in a multi-room Tudor mansion called "Kenwood", just outside of London, stuck in a marriage he later would describe as "happily-married state of boredom", he became introspective, and ponderous. Success, girls and money had proven to be strangely unfilfilling, and for a short while he dabbled in Christianity, hoping it'd somehow help him fill the void. (His accurate, but poorly-worded remarks about Jesus, which would give The Beatles so much trouble later on, were a direct result of that).

"The whole Beatle thing was just beyond comprehension. I was eating and drinking like a pig and I was fat as a pig, dissatisfied with myself, and subconsciously I was crying for help. [...] So it was my fat Elvis period. You see the movie: he -- I -- is very fat, very insecure, and he's completely lost himself. And I am singing about when I was so much younger and all the rest, looking back at how easy it was." (John Lennon, 1980) And: "I started thinking about my own emotions -- I don't know when exactly it started, like "I'm A Loser" or "Hide Your Love Away" or those kind of things -- instead of projecting myself into a situation, I would try to express what I felt about myself which I'd done in my books." (John Lennon, 1970)

Inevitably, in Lennon's case, his thoughts turned to a saviour: a dream girl. Someone who would save his from his current state and somehow lead him to new, and better, worlds. "I'd always had a fantasy about a woman who would be a beautiful, intelligent, dark-haired, high-cheekboned, free-spirited artist (a la Juliette Greco)," he wrote later, in Skywriting By Word Of Mouth. This "soul mate" shimmers vaguely through songs like Yes It Is and Girl; a dreamlike combination of his deceased mother, Julia, and a sexual, kind spirit. Someone who could guide him back to the relative security of his youth, when he didn't "need anybody's help in any way" and when "everything was right".

Sometime in 1965, his moods darkening, Lennon tasted LSD for the first time. Soon his intake would become enormous. (Lennon: "I used to eat it all the time."). But as it may seemed to have offered an escape, it also amplified his feelings, and, worse, ultimately reflected them back to him, confronting him with his inner demons and deepest despairs. He drifted away from his wife, Cynthia, then tried to reach out to her before angrily withdrawing again, he tangled himself up in guilt, over money, his behaviour, his youth. As so often in Lennon's case, the consequences streamed right into the public domain in the form of songs: thus, he was primarily responsible for The Beatles's metamorphosis from seemingly happy-go-lucky entertainers to tuned-in mindmeisters. Out went lyrics dealing with holding hands, coming home to anxiously waiting girlfriends, and thrilling kisses, in came the dark dreamlike worlds of childhood, coloured black-and-white contradictions, lyrics about restlessness and fatigue (i.e. manic depression), about Christianity, domesticism and lost chances. They all form a whole: I'm Only Sleeping in Strawberry Fields; Tomorrow Never Knows, but when he wakes up it's Good Morning, Good Morning, anyway.

Presented here is a selection of those psychedelic songs - psychedelic, from"psyche" (mind), and "deloun" (to manifest, make visible). Songs that catch Lennon in a confessional, unhappy mood. All were written in his "music room" on the top floor of his house in Weybridge (high in the sky, where no one would bother him). Eventually, it took a Yoko Ono to lift him out of his inward drug spiral. For better or worse, when they got together his songs would mainly deal with her, their love / relationship, and humanitarian causes.

© 2005 Jeroen Dekker. Don't use without prior written permission.