Alfred was gone for most of Lennon’s life, until he returned after The Beatles had become a worldwide phenomenon.
In 1968 Lennon told author Hunter Davies that he “soon forgot his father”. He added: “It was like he was dead.”
The singer did not live with his mother, Julia Lennon, while growing up. He instead lived with his aunt, Mimi Smith, throughout his entire childhood. Despite this, the Imagine singer and his mother maintained a good relationship into his teenage years.
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Julia died on July 15, 1958 when she was hit by a car being driven by an off-duty police officer. Lennon was 17-years-old at the time.
Mother is a track filled with emotional regret and powerful sorrow.
The first lines tell listeners a lot about Lennon’s pain, as he yells: “Mother, you had me but I never had you / I wanted you, you didn’t want me / So I, I just got to tell you, Goodbye goodbye / Father, you left me but I never left you, I needed you / So I, I just got to tell you, Goodbye goodbye.”
The final lines of the song are an even more raw display of Lennon’s feelings at the time.
Despite the track being a window into his soul, Lennon was not against discussing its roots.
He said: “I’m writing this now because it’s the way I feel. I used to say I wouldn’t be singing She Loves You when I was thirty, but I didn’t know I’d be singing about my mother.
“It’s just what came out of my mouth when I tried to write songs. I was doing therapy and going through my life and so I wrote about the most important things that happened in my life. Just like any artist.”
Lennon’s emotion surrounding his parents and his mother in particular was a large part of the relationship he went on to build with fellow Fab Four member and friend Paul McCartney.
McCartney’s mother, Mary McCartney, died on October 31, 1956 from cancer. McCartney was 14-years-old.
This loss was a shared experience for both Lennon and McCartney, Beatlejuice radio show host Geoff Lloyd revealed.
“Now, of course, teenage boys aren’t always the best at talking about their feelings, especially in those days, but Paul has said there were the odd occasions where they sat and cried together.”
McCartney himself made similar comments in Beatles: Anthology, saying: “That became a very big bond between John and me, because he lost his mum early on, too. We both had this emotional turmoil which we had to deal with and, being teenagers, we had to deal with it very quickly.
“We both understood that something had happened that you couldn’t talk about – but we could laugh about it, because each of us had gone through it.”
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band – The Ultimate Collection is due for release on April 16, 2021.