Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekend reading #2

"'I Don't Believe in Beatles'": John Lennon's Minimalist Journey to Independence" - a breakdown of John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band through the prism of its sonic minimalism and lyrical bluntness.

Plastic Ono Band is now universally regarded as not only Lennon’s most important post-Beatles effort, but one of the greatest records in pop history. So many years removed from the record’s original release, it is difficult to imagine what an audacious artistic move it was for Lennon to make this album. Not only did Lennon run the risk of alienating his fans with the lyrics rejecting his past self, but his artistic principles stood in contrast to those employed during much of the Beatles’ career. In making the austere Plastic Ono Band, one source of Lennon’s inspiration was the “primal scream” therapy he was undergoing at the time. The primitive nature of Lennon’s vocals and the confessional mode of his lyrics clearly reflect his therapeutic experiences. The record’s musical minimalism in arrangement and sonic texture support the “primal” concept effectively. The listener often has the feeling of being alone in a quiet room with only Lennon’s inner reflections. Lennon’s bold turn to the minimal, though, was not just a result of his lyrical introspection and personal circumstances. Rather, the former Beatle was clearly placing himself in diametric aesthetic opposition to not only Paul, George, and Ringo, but the John of the Beatle era.

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