Before the blurring mixing bowl of the internet, the 1990s contained a few truly pronounced aesthetics. As the frontwoman of Garbage, Shirley Manson embodied the alt-rock of the era with her mercurial style that was somehow full of bravura and yet entirely understated. However, her individualistic ways were acquired the hard way, as the defiant tale of her life attests.
Throughout struggles with her body image and self-harm, the profound conscience of John Lennon proved to be a vital musical sage for her as both an artist and an individual. Manson herself might now be a trailblazer, but her love of Lennon proves that everyone needs someone to illuminate the way. In an interview with ABC in Australia, the alt-rock icon took the time to pour praise on Lennon and one of his compositions in particular.
“I think John Lennon is arguably one of the greatest protest singers of all time,” Manson told ABC. “He has always been remarkably important to me. The Beatles were a huge influence on me growing up, then when he left The Beatles and forged this solo career, I was really intrigued by him.”
For all his bed-in protests may have been picked at over the years, for the younger generation at the time, he opened up a bohemian world by using his stardom to break down the norm. This is a notion that Manson explains: “He taught me to think differently, think about the world, be conscious in it. And of course, he married someone who’s become one of my all-time heroines. Yoko Ono, who was so poorly treated in the press at the time. She was met with so much misogyny and sexism and just plain xenophobia.”
Manson later explained that it was Lennon’s lyricism that shifted her creativity towards a more introspective style at a young age. “He could write these amazing pop songs and talk about things that really mattered,” she declared, “He was a genius at it.”
One song, in particular, proved stirring for Manson at this young age. In fact, the frontwoman even went as far as to say it was one of her favourite songs of all time. Taken from his Imagine album, ‘I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama’, was a vicious anti-war track that retained his unique melodic ways. “I picked this one because I’m kind of anti-war,” Manson decreed.
Before concluding: “I think the fact that it’s so repetitive and sort of hypnotic and simple is why you get the sincerity and the fear behind someone having to go off to fight. I could have picked a zillion of his songs, that all equally are protesting something. He’s a protester. I love that about him.”