This month (2020 time) marks the 40th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, which does not concern us here at The Beatles Plus 50, as in our timeline he still has ten years to live. In that decade he will make music (some great, some not so great), party with Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon, and spend a lot of time holed up in the Dakota experiencing some combination of cozy domestic tranquility and drug-addled agoraphobia. (Though you can’t, in historical perspective, say that John was paranoid. Nothing validates all one’s anxieties like being assassinated.)

But it also marks the 50th anniversary of Plastic Ono Band, John’s first real solo album1and a milestone in the history of both rock music and psychology. It brought a lot of people’s attention to Primal (Scream) therapy, which John was undergoing at the time. A quick précis for those unfamiliar:

Primal therapy is a trauma-based psychotherapy created by Arthur Janov, who argues that neurosis is caused by the repressed pain of childhood trauma. Janov argues that repressed pain can be sequentially brought to conscious awareness for resolution through re-experiencing specific incidents and fully expressing the resulting pain during therapy. In therapy, the patient recalls and reenacts a particularly disturbing past experience usually occurring early in life and expresses normally repressed anger or frustration especially through spontaneous and unrestrained screams, hysteria, or violence. [Wikipedia]

And it occurs to me that Primal therapy is due for a comeback. Couldn’t we all use a good scream right about now? I encourage you to open the nearest window and have at it. Wordless screaming is perfectly fine, though there’s also the classic Peter Finch mantra:

And finally, I can’t pass up any excuse to revisit the National Lampoon’s classic Lennon parody “Magical Misery Tour,” which despite its title is an inspired sendup of the Plastic Ono Band era. I thought this was funny as a kid, even before I really knew anything about John or The Beatles, and it’s only gotten better over the years. Every lyric in it is more or less a verbatim Lennon quote, and Tony Hendra (who later played Ian Faith — manager and cricket-bat wielder extraordinaire — in This Is Spinal Tap) does a brilliant imitation. My favorite part is when he rhymes “the sky is blue” with “fuck you.”

Now doesn’t that feel better?

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