John Lennon’s swan song was supposed to be a ‘Starting Over’

“It’s like we each are falling in love once more/It’ll be identical to beginning over, beginning over.”

So go the lyrics to “(Just Like) Starting Over,” the final single John Lennon put out earlier than he was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman exterior of the Dakota, his Central Park West residence constructing, on Dec. 8, 1980.

The song — which, following its launch on Oct. 24, 1980, would go No. 1 after Lennon’s dying — was supposed to be precisely that: a contemporary begin for a 40-year-old household man who had already grow to be the stuff of music legend. Taking a five-year hiatus after his 1975 covers album “Rock ‘N’ Roll,” Lennon had mainly retired from rock-star life — and this upbeat monitor, filled with hope and promise, was a new starting.

“It’s vital as a result of it was the song that reintroduced us to him after six years since he had put out an album of unique materials [1974’s ‘Walls and Bridges’],” stated Tim English, creator of “John Lennon: 1980 Playlist,” who notes that the Beatle was creatively reinvigorated by a crusing journey from Newport, Rhode Island, to Bermuda in June 1980: “He’d gotten the old spark again.”

Indeed, this was a season of rebirth and renewal for Lennon. He was embracing fatherhood and home bliss with spouse Yoko Ono on their collaborative “Double Fantasy” album, which got here out simply three weeks earlier than his homicide.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono circa 1968.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono circa 1968.
Getty Images

As that LP’s first single, there was a lot using on “(Just Like) Starting Over.” But the sunny tune — a composite of three earlier Lennon song demos — got here in towards the tip of the “Double Fantasy” rehearsal classes with producer Jack Douglas.

“It wasn’t among the many [demos] that had been being organized for the ‘Double Fantasy’ album, and John simply whipped over and began enjoying the model with all of the components intact for Jack Douglas,” stated Kenneth Womack, creator of “John Lennon, 1980: The Last Days in the Life” and host of the “Everything Fab Four” podcast. “And that is when Jack stated, ‘Where’s that been? Not solely is that a nice song, that is the primary single!’ It was clear to Jack that it had this pop hook to it.”

And make no mistake, Lennon was aiming for the highest of the pop charts. “I feel he was writing for a hit single,” stated Bill Flanagan, co-host of “The Fab Forum” on SiriusXM’s The Beatles Channel. “I at all times thought ‘Starting Over’ was type of in all probability designed … to say, ‘Hey, keep in mind me?’ He had taken photographs at [Paul] McCartney for writing his glad marriage and fatherhood songs, however on the finish of the day, John was saying, ‘That really is what counts.’ ”

No doubt, the lyrics reflectwanting to reconnect romantically with Ono 5 years after that they had grow to be mother and father to son Sean. Not solely does Lennon croon, “Let’s take a probability and fly away someplace alone,” however, English stated, “on the finish of the song, you hear an airport flight announcement included in there.”

Musically, the song is an homage to the ’50s heroes who impressed Lennon earlier than he turned a Beatle, together with Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly. “During the classes for the [‘Double Fantasy’] album, he referred to as himself Elvis Orbison,” stated English. “He wasn’t shy about together with all these influences.”

John Lennon and Yoko Ono circa 1979.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono circa 1979.
Michael Ochs Archives

And though the song was initially named merely “Starting Over,” Lennon added the parenthetical as a result of Dolly Parton had a nation hit earlier in 1980 with the equally titled “Starting Over Again.” “He was really a Dolly Parton fan,” stated English. “He had a copy of Dolly’s 1979 cowl of Jerry Lee Lewis’ ‘Great Balls of Fire’ on his jukebox at residence.”

Looking again on the only’s legacy and place amongstLennon’s solo work 40 years later, Womack stated, “To my ears, it’s the gateway song for the brand new section of John Lennon that we’re getting at that time. Sadly, it barely will get to have that life.”

Instead, “(Just Like) Starting Over” would come to be without end related to the harrowing ending of Lennon’s life.

“That’s the merciless irony,” stated Flanagan. “John Lennon’s dying would have been horrible at any time, in any circumstance, however for him to die so brutally simply for the time being when he re-entered the highlight after 5 years away was simply particularly brutal.”



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