Monday, January 10, 2011

Bros Before Hoes: John Lennon's "Balancing Lesson"

Bros Before Hoes: John Lennon's "Balancing Lesson"

·         Better Man in brief ...
·         -Keep your girlfriend time and your guy time separate at all costs.
·         -Don't abuse your friendships with selfish demands.
·         -Schedule time to get away from her and party with the guys.

"If you're going to sow some oats, try not to get kicked out of a nightclub wearing a feminine hygiene product on your forehead, as Lennon did in L.A."

In his all-too-brief 40 years, John Lennon taught the world countless lessons. In addition to being a world-class singer, songwriter and musician, Lennon was also a published author, artist, political activist and champion of world peace. So it stands to reason that he might know a bit about interpersonal relations, right?

Well, sort of.

Lennon was indeed the first Beatle to marry and the first Beatle to become a father; on the flip-side, John was also the first Beatle to divorce and the first Beatle to re-marry. But even after he found his soul-mate in second wife Yoko Ono, there were problems.

As we celebrate the year in which John Lennon would have turned 70, let's take a peek at a few lessons we can learn from his life about how to balance friendships and a relationship.

1- Keep Her Away From Guy Group Activities
When Lennon and Yoko Ono became an item in 1968, it was the beginning of not only a romantic relationship, but something of a symbiotic one. Yoko introduced John to the world of avant-garde art, and -- God help us -- Lennon proceeded to get Yoko involved in pop music. (How many of you know that Yoko sang on The BeatlesWhite Album? Yes, it's true.)

During Beatles recording sessions in 1969, Ono was so involved that she became John's constant companion in the studio, which severely displeased the other Beatles, particularly when she began offering musical advice. Even though some of Lennon's most cutting-edge music was recorded and released during the "early Yoko" era -- including "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," "Come Together" and "Revolution" -- the damage to the group's camaraderie was evident. (It was not for nothing that Paul McCartney reportedly stared down Yoko in the studio as he sang "Get back to where you once belonged," as John once told an interviewer.)

So guys, the lesson to be learned here is this: If you're thinking of inviting your girl to that Friday night poker game with the boys -- think again.

2- Regularly Schedule "Guy Time"
By 1973, Lennon and Ono were tired of the constant togetherness and had become estranged, which led to Lennon leaving the couple's NYC digs (at Ono's request) and taking up residence in Los Angeles with music industry assistant May Pang. In later years, Lennon referred to this period in his life as "The Lost Weekend," as he partied hard with pals like fellow musicians Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson, Micky Dolenz and Ringo Starr.

While the stories of Lennon's misbehavior in L.A. during this period were quickly infamous, Yoko believed she was saving their relationship by allowing John to sow some wild oats with friends. (A tip: If you're going to sow some oats, try not to get kicked out of a nightclub wearing a feminine hygiene product on your forehead, as Lennon did in L.A.)

FYI: Scheduling "guy time" on a regular basis with your pals -- whether it be watching the ball game, downing a few at the local watering hole or whatever -- lessens the chances that you'll go bonkers during a night on the town. (Not purchasing feminine hygiene products may help in that regard, as well.)

In a rush to get the single into the shops, Lennon dragged McCartney into the studio and insisted they record the song as a duet.
3- Don't Neglect Your Prior Commitments
John Lennon's relationship with Yoko Ono so consumed him that his relations with the other three quarters of the Fab Four (along with most other people) were crumbling by 1969. John and Yoko were releasing experimental albums together (a gold star for anyone who can sit through one of these without running from the room screaming), campaigning for peace together and getting busted together -- you know, the normal boy/girl stuff.

Meanwhile, John's Beatle buddies were patiently awaiting his return to the fold, but at a band meeting in 1969, when Paul McCartney brought up ideas for the next Beatles project, Lennon shot back, "I think you're daft. I want a divorce." This statement effectively brought an end to the band, although the split wasn't made official until the following year. This series of events began the "Yoko broke up the Beatles" furor that continues to this day.

The lesson here (aside from the fact that no one wants to hear the messy musical experiments you and your girlfriend are making) is that it does no one any good if you drop all your commitments, plans and friends just to be with your girl. Everyone will resent you, you'll get ticked off at them and in the end there's a good chance you'll end up resenting her for your own poor choices.

4- Don't Take Your Friends For Granted
In 1969, John penned an autobiographical tune about his wedding to Yoko, their honeymoon and some of their publicity shenanigans to promote peace, titled "The Ballad of John and Yoko." Her wanted to record it with the other Beatles ASAP, but George and Ringo were both out of town and unavailable. Did that stop John? Nope. In a rush to get the single into the shops, Lennon dragged McCartney into the studio and insisted they record the song as a duet (although it was billed as a Beatles record).

Even though the result was the Beatles' final #1 single in England, George and Ringo had to have felt someone slighted by John's me-first actions. In what must have seemed like the ultimate in-your-face move, Yoko Ono appeared with the entire band on the photo that graced the 45's picture sleeve. So let's see: two of the people pictured didn't even play on the song, and they were stuck posing with someone who wasn't in the band at all and three quarters of the band didn't like. Ugh.

The key lesson to take way from this scenario is: never take your friends for granted; again, you'll just be asking for resentment and hurt feelings.

5- Hold Your Tongue
Let's let John have the last word, with the now-famous lyrics from his 1970 tune, "God":

"I don't believe in Beatles. I just believe in me [...] Yoko and me. And that's reality. The dream is over."

As my dear ol’ dad once said, "If you can't say something nice, then shut the f*ck up." This particularly holds true if you're saying something that could end up causing repercussions later.

John M. Borack

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