Lucy in the Mind of Lennon

Overview


Since John Lennon composed Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds in early 1967, fans and music critics alike have argued over the meaning of the song. Is it about drugs? Is it just a lyrical response to a drawing given Lennon by his 4-year-old son Julian? Is there some deeper meaning? Professor Tim Kasser goes beyond speculative explanations by applying innovative psychological methods to the song's lyrics and music. He deeply analyzes the song's linguistic structure, its basic theme, and the way its words and music had...
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Lucy in the Mind of Lennon

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Overview


Since John Lennon composed Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds in early 1967, fans and music critics alike have argued over the meaning of the song. Is it about drugs? Is it just a lyrical response to a drawing given Lennon by his 4-year-old son Julian? Is there some deeper meaning? Professor Tim Kasser goes beyond speculative explanations by applying innovative psychological methods to the song's lyrics and music. He deeply analyzes the song's linguistic structure, its basic theme, and the way its words and music had been used by Lennon in earlier songs. As the findings accumulate, Kasser weaves them together with the facts of Lennon's life and established psychological theories to provide an integrative (and sometimes surprising) perspective on the psychological processes that led Lennon to write Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Kasser goes on to follow the unfolding of these personal dynamics in later Lennon songs like I am the Walrus, Yer Blues, and Working Class Hero.

No other book has so closely examined this period of Lennon's life with such a sophisticated psychological approach. Kasser's methods and perspective point to the usefulness of scientific psychology for understanding why a particular person does a particular thing at a particular time, at the same time that they shed new light on this fascinating and controversial man.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In this unique analysis, Tim Kasser puts a famous and enigmatic Beatles song under the psychological microscope. Bringing methods to bear from linguistics, cognitive science, music theory, and the study of attachment, Kasser probes deeply into the life and the soul of John Lennon. His little book shines as bright as a diamond in the (strawberry) field of psychological biography."
-- Dan P. McAdams, Henry Wade Rogers Professor of Psychology and Director of the Foley Center for the Study of Lives, Northwestern University, and author of George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream

"Tim Kasser's in-depth study of 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' brings a fresh and thought-provoking approach to a well-known and oft-discussed Beatles song. While most scholars and critics have come at this song from the point of view of musical analysis or biography (or both), Kasser's readings rely principally on methods drawn from the field of psychology. The interpretations in Lucy in the Mind of Lennon open up new ways to think about meaning in popular music."
-- John Covach, Professor of Music, University of Rochester and Eastman School of Music

"This is an outstanding work, a wonderfully rich and synthetic portrait. Tim Kasser artfully employs some of the latest scientific methods for studying individual lives to illuminate the complex meanings behind Lennon's song Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and its place in Lennon's life history. He has an engaging, conversational style of writing that draws the reader in, so that we're traveling partners sharing a fascinating journey of exploration into Lennon's inner world."
-- Amy Demorest, Professor of Psychology, Amherst College

"This is an excellent psychobiography that employs several rarely used techniques in the research, such as the chapters analyzing musical melodies of various John Lennon songs in order to draw personality-based conclusions. This book will have wide appeal for its treatment of topics on religion, substance abuse, and creativity. The book's strengths are in its singular focus on the meaning behind one song Lennon wrote ("Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds") at a critical psychological juncture in his life, as it offers Kasser an achievable yet ambitious framework in which to perform his inquiry."
-- Joseph M. Kramp, Religious Studies Review

"In this effort to decipher Lennon's creation, [Kasser] works hard and researches deeply, bringing in Freud, dream analysis, B. F. Skinner, Dr. James Pennebaker and his computer analysis Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count, and Script Analysis among other methodology. Kasser has done yeoman work in this short book, and it will be of interest to Beatle and Lennon fanatics and of course to teachers and other scholars who might want to use it as a classroom tool or reference." --Gary Presley, The Internet Review of Books

"In his new book, Tim Kasser, a social-personality psychologist with decidedly clinical interests, relies on a variety of intriguing techniques to explore an unusual case: the late John Lennon's intentions when he wrote 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.' Attempts at 'psychobiography' are by no means new [...] but trying to understand a creative work like the origins of this familiar, if enigmatic, rock song, is novel." --Dana S. Dunn, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199747603
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/8/2013
  • Series: Inner Lives Series
  • Pages: 184
  • Sales rank: 553,604
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Kasser is Professor of Psychology at Knox College. His publications include The High Price of Materialism (MIT Press, 2002) and many scientific articles and book chapters. Tim enjoys playing the piano (including blues and Beatles' songs), interpreting dreams, and spending time with his family at their home in the western Illinois countryside.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Chapter 1 - The Problem
Chapter 2 - The Style
Chapter 3 - The Story
Chapter 4 - The Words
Chapter 5 - The Music
Chapter 6 - The Man, his Recent Past, and his Son's Drawing
Chapter 7 - Recipe for a Song
Chapter 8 - The Next Songs
Chapter 9 - Expression
Author's Afterword
Notes
References
Appendices

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