I finally finished "John" by Cynthia Lennon today. This was my first book I ever read about Lennon in detail. After finishing, I just want to read more about him. I actually just ordered two more books on his life that I will hopefully get from amazon.com within the next week or two.
"John" is not really for the casual fan (stick to "The Beatles Anthology" or one of those picture biograhies). It examines many of Lennon's flaws, mostly his relationship with Julian and his inability to deal with his problems. She paints a much different person that was in the public eye from 1964 to 1980. It reassured to me that Lennon was human and had many issues especially after beginning his relationship with the notorious, Yoko Ono.
My biggest problem with John Lennon is that it is literally impossible to know everything about the man. Yes, he died too young, but there is more to it. I'm talking about the fact that Yoko Ono has this tight grip on his legacy. It's so tight that I feel that she hurts it more than helps it. She thinks she's "protecting him," but she's simply protecting her own interests.
Cynthia says a lot of negative comments about Lennon and Ono that the casual Beatle/Lennon fan would never know. When I was reading the book and we reached 1968 (when Lennon started his relationship with Ono), all I could think in my head that Lennon turned into Darth Vader. It's like he entered this dark side and was unable to escape the empress (Ono). I'm serious. He almost completely broke off communication with Cynthia and Julian. This is one of the many reasons why I want to read more books on him to find out if Cynthia was blowing things out of proportion or actually accurate.
It's funny because she even talks about his time with May Pang in 1973-74 and she describes him as being free from Yoko's control. The most interesting aspect of the book was when Julian visited him during his years as a "house husband" in the late 1970s. She writes how Lennon simply stayed in bed all day and was a doing nothing. This contradicts many public statements he made prior to his death in 1980.
I've heard from many sources, that Lennon and Ono might have never lasted if he lived. This book touches upon it and I'm looking forward to reading more. That's the thing with Yoko now. John's dead, so "her word" is "the word". She thinks for John and herself and it's sad in a way. What would have happened if that man never pulled the trigger? We might be reading completely different biographies on his life.
In the second to last paragraph in the book, Cynthia Lennon sums up the overall idea of the book.
"He was an extraordinary man: talented, flawed, a creative genius who sang movingly about love while often wounding those closest to him."
Don't get me wrong, I still admire the man. Now, I just feel like a more educated fan of The Beatles and Lennon. I never wanted to be one of those "fans," who simply liked their music because it sounded good. The Beatles and John Lennon for that matter, were so much more.
Anyone with any Beatles knowledge will tell you Lennon had plenty of issues. This book reaffirms it and tells you more. If you care not to know the truth, then stay away. Although, if you're a true Lennon fan, you will be fascinated at his rollercoaster that ended prematurely told from the perspective of his first wife.