IN HIS OWN WRITE – Texts and Songs by John Lennon –
Featuring Music by the Duo ONE AFTER 909 from Tampere, Finland
It was 55 years ago, that John Lennon published his first book, IN HIS OWN WRITE; the first solo project by one of the members of THE BEATLES in any creative medium. On its first day on sale in the UK, 50,000 copies of the book were sold and the first US printing sold over 90,000 copies.
John Lennon was adept at free association and improvisation in his linguistic explorations, which can be seen in both his prose writing and a portion of his song lyrics. The book is a vehicle for Lennon’s surreal imagery and humour; a collection of illustrations, stories, anecdotes, poetry, using largely nonsensical words that owed much to his love of the fanciful comedy of his British radio favourites the Goons, as well as popular authors such as Lewis Carroll. Lennon’s use of puns, near-homonyms, bizarre imagery, disconnected narrative threads and references, creative misspellings, and abrupt, unresolved conclusions challenge the reader to either find meaning, or bring their own meaning to the text.
Merely wanting to demonstrate his free-form creative abilities Lennon intended no deeper meaning –
“I used to make the lads laugh…talking like that, and writing poetry. I used to write them and just give them to friends to laugh at, and that was the end of it. It’s just my style of humour.” – John Lennon in a BBC Interview.
The literary establishment approved and the Times Literary Supplement remarked, “It is worth the attention of anyone who fears for the impoverishment of the English language and the British imagination.”
Long before John Lennon began composing BEATLE songs about boys and girls falling in and out of love, he had already demonstrated his unique, bizarre and highly surreal sense of humour while at Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool, where he produced his own imaginative “newspaper”, the Daily Howl on scraps of paper which included pages filled with one-line gags, eccentric wordplay, spoof ads, cartoons, deliberate misspellings and puns and the first evidence of a lasting obsession with human grotesques. These “newspapers” were passed around between schoolmates and often confiscated by teachers, who seemed to be aware of their worth, as they were returned to Lennon at the end of the school term.
Today, Lennon’s texts of 55 years ago are often compared by reviewers to works by Edward Lear, Spike Milligan and Hilaire Belloc, writers who represent the earliest attempts of high culture to engage with the pop world. There was substance beneath the shimmer and it was quite a revelation to realize that the man who helped write “I Want to Hold Your Hand” could also display a cruel sense of humour and nurture demonic visions.
Performance – Monday, November 4 at 20:00 hrs at MERLIN