Ben Gerson

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Walls and Bridges shows John Lennon to be as mercurial as ever. I anticipated an unbearable suffering occasioned by the collapse of one of this century's most public love affairs—after all, Yoko Ono was presented as the membrane between agony and peace for Lennon, between illusion and reality. Yet the relative clearheadedness of this album suggests that she may have been only the most recent in a series of causes from which Lennon is extricating himself with customary agility. He seemed more pugnacious, more doctrinaire, more vulnerable when Yoko was supposedly supplying him with bliss than he is today.

For the first time since the formation of the Beatles, Lennon is on his own and, remarkably, he seems to find that tolerable, though half the numbers on Walls and Bridges record his pangs of loss. (pp. 72, 74)

The insights are reformulations of the lessons of Plastic Ono Band, with this difference: On POB the tearing away of veils only revealed another face to Lennon's utopianism. Then (keeping in mind his crucial inconsistency in idealizing his relationship with Yoko) illusionlessness seemed the ultimate liberation. Today Lennon knows that neither dreams nor their puncturing is the answer. There is no neat answer. When one accepts one's childhood, one's parenthood and the impermanence of what lies between, one can begin to slog along. When John slogs, he makes progress. (pp. 74, 76)

Ben Gerson, "Lennon: Together Again," in Rolling Stone (by Straight Arrow Publishers, Inc. © 1974; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Issue 174, November 21, 1974, pp. 72, 74, 76.