All kinds of dark grief (rage, resentment, nihilism, despair, revenge-fixation) can be found in John Lennon‘s “I’ll Cry Instead,” a rockabilly tune that was written and recorded in ’64. This is a guy who’s been seriously hurt by abandonment and has major issues with rejection. Talk about raw and ragged.

My only quibble is with the line “I’ve got a chip on my shoulder that’s bigger than my feet.” Lyricists can’t compare a searingly negative attitude (a single, stand-alone, everyone-can-go-fuck-themselves “chip”) with a pair of male feet. Different realms, man. HE alternate: “I’ve got a chip on my shoulder that’s weighin’ on my soul / I don’t know if I can take it any more.”

The idea of hiding your feelings when the pain is too great…I was there a couple of times in my mid teens. And of course, “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away,” a ’65 Lennon tune, explored this feeling in a Dylanesque way.

Author and musician John Kruth has described “I’ll Cry Instead” as one of Lennon’s “stalker songs”, alongside his other 1964 compositions “You Can’t Do That” and “No Reply”, dealing in themes of separation and uncontrollable jealousy.

I’ve got every reason on earth to be mad
‘Cause I just lost the only girl I had
If I could get my way
I’d get myself locked up today

But I can’t, so I’ll cry instead

I’ve got a chip on my shoulder that’s bigger than my feet
I can’t talk to people that I meet
If I could see you now
I’d try to make you sad somehow
But I can’t, so I’ll cry instead

Don’t wanna cry when there’s people there
I get shy when they stop and stare
I’m gonna hide myself awayee-hayee
But I’ll come back again someday

And when I do you’d better hide all the girls
I’m gonna break their hearts all round the world
Yes, ah’m gonna break them in two
And show you what your lovin’ man can do
Until then I’ll cry instead