photo & text by nacrowe
DOUBLE FANTASY (GEFFEN, 1980) by JOHN LENNON and YOKO ONO is probably the most depressing album ever made. and that is not to say the songs are bleak or somber in tone, in fact it is the opposite. songs such as "BEAUTIFUL BOY," "WATCHING THE WHEELS" and "(JUST LIKE) STARTING OVER" find LENNON in a state of DOMESTIC BLISS, after surviving his years-long lost weekend away from ONO, and unbridled optimism about his new son SEAN. this record is so PAINFUL and HEATBREAKING to listen to because of its BUOYANT outlook and CHEERFUL, UPBEAT tone.
this is one of those records that is nearly impossible to listen to and divorce it from the fact that LENNON was senselessly murdered by a fan shortly after its release. similar albums in this regard that come to mind are JOY DIVISION's CLOSER (FACTORY, 1980) and NIRVANA's NEVERMIND (DGC, 1991). but those two are not comforting records celebrating FATHERHOOD and the benefits of COMPANIONSHIP. knowing about LENNON's own biography and the role his mother JULIA played into his fear of ABANDONMENT (she deserted him as a child), the very idea of him finding a sense of IDENTITY and SALVATION through LOVE at the moment his life was snuffed out from under him is too much to bear. even now more than 40 years later. at the risk of sounding entitled i'll say emphatically that we were all robbed.
i literally cannot listen to this record without getting emotional. LENNON most definitely had one of the most affective singing voices ever which is severely underrated during and after his time. the former BEATLE had a unique instrument in that regard that allowed him to come off EARNEST and TUNEFUL without coming off as overly CONTRIVED or PROFESSIONAL. it worked in his favor throughout his career and gave his material the illusion of being effortless and of the people. it gave his songs an EVERYMAN quality. to this day when i hear PUNK ROCK, i hear LENNON.
since childhood every time i hear this album it makes me think of my father, much like hearing "BABY LOVE" by THE SUPREMES reminds me of my mother. its just such an astounding affecting achievement and too tragic for words. a seminal recording by an iconic generational talent that should be heard and appreciated by everyone.