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“The best thing I’ve ever done”: Is ‘Plastic Ono Band’ really the defining John Lennon album?

John Lennon and Yoko Ono were obsessed with each other from the moment they met. Both felt trepidation and fear about engaging in a formal relationship, given the controversial circumstances regarding Lennon’s marriage and family. Still, they had a connection that was too strong to ignore. Once Ono was in his life, there was a notable shift in Lennon, one that led to him embracing different interests and morphing into a different musician. This is why Yoko Ono is often seen as a controversial figure amongst fans of The Beatles.

The fact is, though, that John and Yoko had a strong love for one another, one that has been so persistent throughout the years that their names next to each other carry the same weight as other co-dependent relationships that have ended in tragedy. They sit on par with Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, and, for the early sixties, Lennon and McCartney.

“Because it was genuine,” said Yoko Ono when asked about why her relationship with Lennon remains a talking point so many decades later, “Truth hurts some people – there was a lot of chip-chip and trying to make it sound like it was really something that didn’t happen.”

She continued, “Maybe in history, a lot of beautiful miracles that happened have been chipped so much that you don’t know about it. It’s the loss of the world to not know that miracles could happen. That was one of the miracles to me. It definitely was a magical thing that happened in my life.”

Lennon would also attest to their genuine feelings for one another when he declared that Plastic Ono Band was the best album he ever made. “I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I think it’s realistic and it’s true to the me that has been developing over the years from my life.”

There certainly has to be something said about the fact that a lot of The Beatles’ work was done when the individual members of the band were still finding themselves. We often forget just how young the band were when they initially made it big, and as they became rich and had the world laid out at their fingertips, they all went in different directions. The songs that Lennon references as previous glimpses into his mind follow a similar vein to that in Plastic Ono Band, more so than they do with many of the Beatles albums.

“’I’m a Loser’, ‘Help’, ‘Strawberry Fields’, they are all personal records,” he said, “I always wrote about me when I could. I didn’t really enjoy writing third-person songs about people who lived in concrete flats and things like that. I like first-person music. But because of my hang-ups and many other things; I would only now and then specifically write about me. Now I wrote all about me and that’s why I like it. It’s me! And nobody else.”

In that sense, it could be considered that Plastic Ono Band is the definitive John Lennon album when thinking about him as an individual. That being said, given that it is far removed from much of The Beatle’s work, it doesn’t define him as a songwriter. The beauty of Lennon’s music is that there are so many facets to it; therefore, there is a lot that those who listen can identify with. It just so happens that Lennon enjoys the songs he can connect with personally the most.

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