The bitter song John Lennon aimed at Allen Klein

When you think of John Lennon, you think of a prolific songwriter who acted with ideologies of peace and love at the forefront of his mind. Yes, he was an inventive writer, and yes, for the most part, he was a relatively peaceful man, but he also had a bitter side to him. Only a few people were caught in the crosshairs of his sharp songwriting, but when they were, the results were damning.

‘Steel and Glass’ was a piece by Lennon about someone he thought had turned on him. Paul McCartney was at the end of his words once on ‘How Do You Sleep?’ but with ‘Steel and Glass’, his manager Allen Klein found himself in the firing line. Klein took over as The Beatles’ manager for some time and also worked with Lennon on his Imagine album.

A string of unethical acts is attached to Allen Klein, but Lennon really held nothing back when writing this song. One line in particular that seems harsh is, “Your mother left you when you were small, but you’re gonna wish you were never born at all.” This was particularly shocking as Klein’s mother passed away when he was young.

Though Klein found himself on the wrong side of Lennon with this track, there may have been some other factors at play that contributed towards his deep-cutting lyricism. For instance, this song comes from the Walls and Bridges album, which he famously wrote during his “Lost Weekend”. He was famously smitten with Yoko Ono, but the “Lost Weekend” was a period when he and Yoko were separated.

It may be the case that many of Lennon’s emotions were heightened at the time of writing, and the by-product of that is that the words he ended up writing were a particularly scathing indictment of his manager. Klein might have been on the receiving end of misdirected anger towards him.

That said, the reports from those working with Lennon at the time state that he acted very professionally during the album’s recording. Engineer David Thoener said, “It was amazing. Despite all of the personal pain John Lennon was in, he was a consummate professional in the studio. Almost as if working kept him sane through those difficult times.”

The bitterness of John Lennon in that track remains a mystery. While he was no stranger to laying his feelings bare in song, regardless of whether they were centred around love or hate, some lines seemed to go too far. As such, the question as to whether he was that mad at Allen Klein that he decided to bad mouth his dead mother or he was channelling anger from something else remains unknown.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *