Monday, December 29, 2008

This Bird Has Flown

Cyn Lennon was born Cynthia Powell in Blackpool, England in 1939. She was raised in the upper middle class section of Merseyside, called Hoylake by her mother and until she was a late teenager, her father. When she was 17, she was admitted to the Liverpool College of Art to study graphics. She was an incredibly gifted artist, far superior than many of her classmates, and she showed up each day to college wearing tweed skirts, twinsets and glasses (don't worry - this is not the phase of her style I am about to complement!) which was a stark contrast to the beatnik look her more bohemian classmates were sporting. Gradually, Cynthia began to loosen up her style more, not wearing her glasses outside of class in order to break her reputation as a teacher's pet.

One day, a "teddy boy" (a boy during the 50s-60s who wore Edwardian-inspired clothing like black velvet coats, drainpipe jeans, highneck shirts, and DA hairstyles) sat behind her during a lettering class and introduced himself as John. Cynthia took a liking toward him because of his litle regard of authority (manifesting itself in the form of their teachers) and his tendency to play his guitar around campus (anyone who read her memoir "John" can recall his serenading her with "Ain't She Sweet" in front of everyone in class). One day she heard him complementing a flaxen-haired classmate as resembling Brigitte Bardot and, feeling a tad jealous, bleached her hair blonde the very next weekend -- a look she would keep the rest of her life.

After a rather short courtship (including a school dance, some bottles of beer, and doing it in Stu Sutcliffe's apartment), Cynthia and John began dating and became attached at the hip. Their relationship was passionate with both its ups and downs. They were both in love; John wasn't even deterred at all when his Aunt Mimi constantly referred to Cyn as a "gangster's moll," but true to John's nature, he suffered mood swings where he would turn jealous and abusive because he was afraid he was losing her. Over the early course of their relationship, John also achieved in turning Cynthia into the Liverpudlian Brigitte Bardot, trading in her tweed skirts for leather pants and stockings for fishnets.

In July 1962, Cyn found out she was pregnant by John. Though worried he wouldn't be happy with the news and maybe leave her, all of Cynthia's worries were calmed when John responded to the news by asking her to marry him. They were married in late August 1962 but couldn't tell many people they were wed because of a fear Beatle manager Brian Epstein had of the band not becoming as popular if a member was married. Much of the time Cyn was pregnant John was away on tour, though he frequently called to check on her and the excitement he felt of becoming a father grew. In April, Cynthia welcomed a son John Charles Julian Lennon, to be called Julian.

But the demands of his career kept him from being near his family and during the rest of the decade, the connection that John and Cynthia shared began to wane. Cynthia's first responsibility was to her son, but John had millions of fans, hundreds of corporate types, and several band members to answer to. Cynthia acknowledged this in her book, saying "John didn't get a real chance to be first a real husband or later, a real father. Once he got on the Beatles bandwagon he couldn't get off, even if he wanted to." But what really killed their relationship, Cynthia believes, was drugs. "John needed an escape from his reality," she wrote, "I understood completely but I couldn't go along with him." Her bad experience with LSD versus his fondness for it drove them farther apart until they were almost strangers living in the same home.

At this point, we all know how the story continues. Here is the Cliff Notes version: John meets Yoko, John marries Yoko, John sits in bed and grows hair with Yoko, John gets lost for a weekend, John procreates with Yoko. Essentially yes, this is how John’s story ends, but Cynthia’s is far more interesting. After being left by her husband for Miss Ono, Cyn met a charming Italian man Roberto Bassanini who, in 1970, she would marry. But one of the most adorable moments Cyn presents in her memoir was when Paul McCartney visited her and Julian right after her and John had filed for divorce. Having recently broken up with his fiancĂ©e, Jane Asher, he brought Cyn a red rose and jokingly asked her to marry him, saying something along the lines of “How bout you and me getting married now?” He also performed a song he had written on his way up there, composed for Julian (and would eventually become “Hey Jude”) to help him through his parents divorce.

Despite the tense relationship she would share with John in later years and bitter views in regards of what was best for Julian, I like to believe that Cynthia and John truly cared for each other still after the divorce. There is a quote from a 1974 interview where John said, "It was said I never loved Cyn. That's far from the truth. We were young, bigheaded, and got into a physical relationship too soon. Perhaps if we took things slow we would have made it. I know we would have made it."

Personally, I like Cynthia Lennon. Though she has written two books about John, it never seems like she wrote them to get even or dish dirt on her former husband. Both books - even "John," which delves deeper into his sometimes stormy nature and his often cruel treatment of Julian - discuss John in a loving manner. Despite the pain he put her through, you can see that she still really loves and respects him. Looking back on all the relationships all the Beatle boys had, Cynthia was the only girl you can't accuse of just wanting to get with a Beatle. She fell for John when his musical career could've amounted to nothing but a pipe dream for a college kid. She is more than a fashion icon because no matter how much she dressed like Brigitte Bardot, there still the underlying intelligence of that inner teacher’s pet that makes her a lot more. But since this is a style-based website, I will comment on it. I am jealous of her ankle-length velvet capes matched with ivory Victorian blouses and black bandage skirts and leather boots. It seems she never quite lost that Bardot look or John’s early Teddy boy influence, but it quite worked. Another thing I love about Cyn’s look is that she very rarely looked like she was actually wearing makeup at all. Obviously she was because who would go to world premieres and high-class parties with just a dab of lip balm or mascara, but I just love that she always looked so clean and natural. Not too many girls can actually pull that off without looking sickly, so props to Cyn for her natural beauty.

She has integrity, she has heart, and she has one hell of a life story. I wish Cyn Lennon all the love and best wishes in the world because she definitely deserves them!

1 comment:

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Although I love Yoko, I prefer Cynthia because she and John have grown up together and have loved each other very deeply for years.