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Thursday 25 June 2020

Single Fantasy

In 1980, when John Lennon talked about his and Yoko's new album "Double Fantasy", he said that all the songs came to him that year. As we now know from the "Lost Lennon Tapes" radio series, and bootlegs from it, as well as by other accounts, they did not. He kept making music, writing lyrics and recording simple demos all through the five years he spent as a "house husband" from when his son was born in 1975 and until he was ready to release his comeback album in 1980.

A few days ago on Twitter, I came across a handwritten note from John. In this note, he outlines plans for a new solo album. It's a track list for side 1 and 2 of an album of only his own songs, no Yoko. I tried to track down where the note came from, and all I could find was a 2009 slideshow from the New York Times, in conjunction with the then upcoming LennoNYC documentary, where the image of the note was attributed to Yoko.

There's only 3 tracks on side 2, which probably means the list was not finished. No sign of the song (Just Like) Starting Over, because that song was one of the last songs to be completed in time for the Double Fantasy sessions. "We didn't hear it until the last day of rehearsal," producer Jack Douglas said in 2005. Still, it's origins can be traced back to a couple of unfinished demo compositions, "Don't Be Crazy" and "My Life".

Here's John's outline of the sequencing of the album:

Side 1:
1. Beautiful Boy
2. Stepping Out
3. Borrowed Time
4. Woman
5. (Afraid I’m) Losing You
6. Grow Old With Me
7. Dear Yoko
8. Watching The Wheels

Side 2:
1. Real Love
2. Nobody Told Me
3. (I Don’t Wanna) Face It

The note also features descriptions of the musical styles he wanted each of the songs tailored to.

John's handwritten outline of his upcoming album

Beautiful Boy: Solo instead of middle 8, a la Monty Alexander "Jamento", i.e. piano mixed steel drum.

Stepping Out: Heavy bass/guitar a la "Let’s Get Serious" (Germaine Jackson).

Borrowed Time: Reggae – bass line + "Herb Alpert" horns solo

Woman: Key change after second middle – early Motown/Beatles

(Afraid I’m) Losing You: a la "How Do You Sleep" (Imagine LP) + "Thrill has gone" – B.B. King 

Grow Old With Me: "Imagine" – Brass instead of strings or both. Bagpipes

Dear Yoko: Buddy Holly + "Oh Yoko" (Imagine LP) – solo = "Listen To Me" – B. Holly

Real Love: "Waiting For You" (Strings etc)

Watching The Wheels: Mind Games (single) and for "Working Class Dylan"

Nobody Told Me: (Everybody’s Talking) Instant Karma

(I Don’t Wanna) Face It; It’s too fast; should be laid back, L.A. style: plus "Havana Moon" sound on chorus (Chuck Berry)

N.B. All notes refer to the SOUND only!

Some of the songs was to end up on the couple's reimagined joint album "Double Fantasy", some on the posthumous "Milk and Honey". A couple of songs were never professionally recorded, "Grow Old With Me" was issued in demo form and George Martin later made an arrangement for it.
"Real Love" came out in demo form on a documentary film soundtrack and another demo formed the basis of later recording by the remaining ex-Beatles and was released as a Beatles single.


Geert said...

(unintelligible) drum = steel drum

Geert said...

here as solo = horns solo

Unknown said...

I don't think this is necessarily a tracklisting for a proposed album. John wouldn't have expected to get 8 tracks a side in 1980! I think it's likely this is a tracklisting for a demo tape, listing how he wants the songs to sound.

Geert said...

you left out Watching The Wheels. Btw - no criticism! For the record, you do a super marvellous job here!

looks like this list might continue on a next page?

wogew said...

Thanks for pointing out the "steel drum" and "horns solo", also my omission of "Watching The Wheels". I have corrected these mistakes in the post :-)

Shad Radna said...

Yeah, I'd guess these are notes accompanying a demo cassette of possible songs that he gave to, say, the producer. Possibly a C60?

Cam Nhung Dinh said...

Thanks a lot. I always adore John Lennon's music. This is not just entertainment, this brings people bigger than that.

piper909 said...

I'd read about the "bagpipes" note to "Grow Old with Me" some years ago, and since I play the bagpipes, I made a stab at recording a bagpipe overdub to the Milk and Honey demo with a musician friend with good home studio recording equipment and the knowledge of how to mix and fix the tracks. We never finished this project but the rough made that day shows promise! I doubt we will ever get back to this, living in different parts of the country now, but maybe someday someone else will take up this challenge and put the final result on YouTube or some such public place. (That was our intention.) John thought this song could become a wedding standard, and I would have liked to see it completed as envisioned, a la Mull of Kintyre!