This explains a lot. Those
of us who are “of a certain age,” that is, Baby Boomers, all witnessed
the incredible musical phenomenon of The Beatles.
For a band that broke up in 1970, their music has had an incredible
impact on the culture of our entire adult lives.
Nearly all of us who were teenagers and young adults in the 1960’s
were affected, and most of us have spent some time wondering, ever since,
just how this musical genius exploded on the scene like a shooting star, and
just as quickly fell to earth, and yet their legacy remains like the
afterglow of a brilliant light passing through the night sky.
Yes, part of it was the pure chemistry:
John the poet, Paul the creative musician, George who could make a
guitar cry and sing, and Ringo, who became known as the lucky drummer who
happened to be at the right place at the right time.
Watching them all after the breakup has given us insight into their
particular contributions: Ringo
toured with some unspectacular bands. George
had some significant success on his own, but still seemed to need the
inspiration of others to “play off of”----Paul continued to write new
tunes, but the lyrics lacked the edge which John brought, and yet, John,
after a time of self-imposed exile, then re-appeared, briefly, with less
complex music and biting, even caustic lyrics.
So, definitely, the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.
And the chemistry they had together was something more than creative;
it was magical, even mystical---they complemented one another, and brought
balance to each other, personally as well as musically.
In “Nowhere Boy,” we see how that balance was brought about, and
we discover the particular emotional development of John that required it.
It ends with the earliest days of the band, when they first play
together as “The Quarrymen” (actually before Ringo joined them) in the
little clubs and dance halls around Liverpool, and just before the formative
(where they would firmly establish their group identity).
John (Aaron Johnson) grew up with his Aunt Mimi (Kristin Scott
Thomas) and Uncle George (David Threlfall), who had no children of their
own. Mimi was uptight; a
rule-keeper, a lover of order, propriety, hard work, higher education, and
social manners. (Sounds like a
Presbyterian.) Uncle George was
the one with the sense of humor and the light-heartedness, but he fell over
of a heart attack, and Mimi, when a grieving teenage John tries to hug her,
says, “There’ll be none of that nonsense.
We just need to carry on, that’s all.”
The perfect British stiff upper lip.
But cold as ice.
John hardly knows Julia (Anne-Marie Duff), his Mum.
He tries to re-connect with her, after he learns that she lives
nearby, but she’s re-married and has two little girls, and her stern
husband is singularly unwelcoming of John.
Julia is the one who first introduces him to the guitar, and shares
his infatuation of Elvis. She
seems to be a free spirit, but she’s also irresponsible (even flirting
shamelessly with John’s own friends).
She says that John’s father left, but John later learns that she
deserted him cavalierly, and even has another child from yet another
liaison, whom he’s never met. She
just can’t seem to make a lasting commitment to anyone, even her own
children. So John has all this
angst: he doesn’t even
remember his father, his mother abandoned him to the care of her sister, who
raised him more out of duty than love.
And then Julia is lost to him, and now he truly has no one who really
cares about him.
Obviously, John brings all that soulful anxiety, and residual anger,
and inexperience with deep emotion, and pitiful lack of affection, with him
to his music, and Paul, it turns out, also lost his Mum at an early age.
And so they become the emotional support for one another, and that
powerful personal connection is part of what drives the genius of their
prolific partnership in songwriting.
“Nowhere Boy” contains some powerful performances, and maintains
a palpable relational tension throughout, because that’s the crucible of
the making of John Lennon. This
explains a lot.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace