Saturday, March 29, 2014

Song Lyrics and Family Dynamics

John, Julian and Cynthia Lennon
Recently I was exploring some of Julian Lennon's music. In the unlikely event that anyone is not familiar with Julian Lennon, he is the first born son of John and Cynthia Lennon. Julian was born in 1963, just as the Beatles were becoming known around the world. So, with Beatlemania reaching its peak during the time that Julian was just a toddler, clearly John did not have much time or energy for his son. With all the demands of touring, recording, songwriting etc. not much father and son bonding could happen.

Actually the very best account of John's life that I have ever read (and believe me, I have read many!) is "John" by Cynthia Lennon.
John by Cynthia Lennon

 In this book, Cynthia talks about the fact that on the rare occasions that John was home with Cynthia and Julian, Julian never knew if his father was going to embrace him or push him away. John was known to be quite moody at times. By the time Julian was 5  years old, John had left Cynthia and Julian to go off with Yoko Ono. So John was pretty much an absent father and when he was present, it seemed that he could be emotionally abusive. And then he just abandoned his son and wife altogether. As if that is not heart breaking enough for a little boy to deal with, by the time Julian was a teenager, John had another son, this time with Yoko Ono. At that point, John gave up music to be a full time father to his second son, Sean. From a distance, Julian was witnessing all of this since John's life with Yoko and baby Sean was made pretty public.  In the meantime, John. for the most part, was pretty much ignoring Julian and Cynthia.

John Lennon as a teenager
A Teen Aged Julian Lennon

Julian Lennon's Music and Revealing Lyrics
Knowing this story of John, Cynthia and Julian, I then stumbled upon this song written and performed by Julian Lennon. To me, it speaks volumes about Julian's relationship with his father.
                      (Click on Link below to access the song)
                     I Should Have Known by Julian Lennon
Some very deeply touching and revealing lyrics such as "Time and time again you've disappeared and then, you've come home to me and played my emotions."  "I gave you everything, my love and devotion. You tore my life apart. You killed my inner heart. You raped every part of me. You raped my emotions."

I was hit hard by that line "You killed my inner heart." I think most people who have been emotionally or physically or otherwise abused know exactly what Julian is expressing here. That really deep place inside our hearts that craves deep connection and intimacy is often so wounded, so bruised or so closed down that sometimes even love cannot penetrate that place -- even though that may be exactly what we are craving.

The Tragedy of  John Lennon's Young Life
As I was listening to the lyrics of Julian's song, it really struck me that his father, John Lennon, could have written exactly those same lyrics about the abandonment that he experienced from his father, and then his mother. John's father was a sailor who was gone for long periods of time and then one day he just walked out on John and his mother Julia when John was very young (some books say John was 3, some say he was 5 when his father left). Exactly the same pattern repeating itself. So sad, so tragic -- for John and Julian. John's young life became even more tragic when his mother gave him up and he had to go and live with his Aunt Mimi. From all that I have read about Aunt Mimi, she was very strict and unyielding. And John used to beg his mother to take him back.  John's story gets even more tragic -- well worth reading Cynthia's book if you want to really get to know this remarkable and deeply wounded man and musician.

John's song "Mother" really tells the story. It is one of the most powerful and heartbreaking songs I have ever heard.

Click on link immediately below to hear this powerful, heart wrenching song.
 Mother by John Lennon

"Mother you had me but I never had you.
I wanted you, but you didn't want me."
"Father you left me but I never left you
I needed you, but you didn't need me"

And the song ends with the heart wrenching chorus sung in John's wailing voice, a voice that is connected with deep gut wrenching pain:

"Mama don't go.
Daddy come home."

It seems that family patterns keep repeating themselves until we each find our own way out of them -- not always an easy task. Thankfully there is currently a lot of work and research being done in this area of family dynamics.

This story of John and Julian Lennon just needed to be told. I think back to being 13 years old in 1964 when we young teenagers were screaming and fainting and going crazy over John Lennon and the other Beatles, and meanwhile, a young boy was suffering the pain of abandonment and emotional abuse from his famous musician father. It is a sobering thought.

Thank You for the Music!
 I thank you both, John Lennon and Julian Lennon, for the gift of your music and for sharing some of your deepest and most profound emotions and feelings so openly through your songs.

Maybe, if we reflect a little on the story of Julian and John, we may begin to recognize, uncover and heal some of our own painful family patterns. And who knows -- maybe we'll be able to turn that pain into some kind of deeply touching music -- or artwork -- or dance -- or story.

Til next time, take good care of yourselves.



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