John Lennon – Watching The Wheels

My favorite song off of John and Yoko’s album Double Fantasy released in 1980. Three singles off of the album made it to the top ten. (Just Like) Starting Over, Woman, and Watching The Wheels which peaked at #10 on the Billboard 100.

This song was John describing his absence from the music scene since 1975. As always he was straightforward and honest. People could not believe he gave up a career to stay at home with his family. Nowadays no one would blink an eye with waiting 5 years for an album. His last album Rock ‘n’ Roll (old rock and roll covers) was released in 1975.

I found this on The Beatles Bible…Engineer Tony Davilio… “Jack” is Jack Douglas the producer

Jack heard this guy named Matthew Cunningham playing dulcimer on the street and he was good. This guy was a real hippie with stringy long hair. He was a typical street musician. They brought him in to play dulcimer on Watching The Wheels. He came in looking pretty spaced out. When you play the dulcimer you sit in that Indian position on the floor. Jack told me, ‘Tony, go out there and make sure he’s in tune.’ So I went over to the piano and plucked out some notes and he kept shaking his head and said, ‘That sounds sour, that’s not in tune,’ but it was. So he’s sitting there playing along with the track and the tape stops. John was standing up in the control room and said something to him over the talkback. Matt squinted his eyes, looking at him, and said, ‘What’s your name?’ And John gets back on the talkback and says ‘My name’s John.’ This guy’s just staring at him and goes, ‘Hi, John.’ And then John says, ‘Hi, Matt’ and then I see them all laughing in there because this guy didn’t know who he was. Apparently, he was the only person in the country who wouldn’t know John Lennon.

From Songfacts

John Lennon wrote this ode to inactivity to explain what he had been up to in the last six years. Until Double Fantasy, his last album was Walls And Bridges, which was released in 1974. He was no longer interested in fame, and dedicated himself to family: his wife Yoko and young son Sean (John became the world’s most famous househusband, baking bread and feeding Sean).

The song makes a statement that taking it easy and spending time with loved ones is anything but crazy. Working way too hard in an attempt to be a productive as possible, on the other hand, can be quite unfulfilling in the end.

The mindset Lennon describes in this song is a stark contrast to his 1973-’74 self, when he embarked on his “lost weekend,” leaving Yoko and engaging in self-destructive behavior. He returned to Yoko in 1975, sinking into domestic life.

Explaining the message of this song after Lennon’s death, Yoko said: “Let’s have that inner space to dream, the dream power.”

Watching The Wheels

People say I’m crazy
Doing what I’m doing
Well, they give me all kinds of warnings
To save me from ruin
When I say that I’m okay, well they look at me kinda strange
“Surely, you’re not happy now, you no longer play the game”

People say I’m lazy
Dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice
Designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I’m doing fine watching shadows on the wall
“Don’t you miss the big time boy, you’re no longer on the ball?”

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

Ah, people ask me questions
Lost in confusion
Well, I tell them there’s no problem
Only solutions
Well, they shake their heads and they look at me, as if I’ve lost my mind
I tell them there’s no hurry, I’m just sitting here doing time

I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round

I just had to let it go
I just had to let it go
I just had to let it go

John Lennon – (Just Like) Starting Over

Yesterday I posted a Wings song so today I’ll even it up with John.

Great song but every time I hear it…it’s December 1980 again and I’m watching news stories about Lennon’s death. Double Fantasy was a strong comeback album for John…a little more Yoko than I would have liked but a good album all the same.

When it was released Ringo had said John Lennon sounds like Elvis at the beginning of this song…then he said no…he doesn’t sound like Elvis…he is Elvis. John Lennon himself said: “All through the taping of ‘Starting Over,’ I was calling what I was doing ‘Elvis Orbison.’ It’s like Dylan doing Nashville Skyline, except I don’t have any Nashville, being from Liverpool. So I go back to the records I know – Elvis and Roy Orbison and Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis.”

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in the UK, #1 in Canada and #2 in New Zealand.

From Songfacts

This song embodied the sense of renewal in Lennon and Yoko’s professional and personal lives during the writing and recording of Double Fantasy. “It was kinda obvious what ‘Starting Over’ was about,” said journalist David Sheff, who did the last major interview with Lennon, to Mojo. “He’d been untrusting of Yoko, she’d been untrusting of him, all that kind of stuff. But in that one song was this incredible optimism and joy.”

This was released in the United States October 27, 1980, which was the same day Mark David Chapman bought the gun he would use to kill Lennon on December 8. “Starting Over,” which came out in the UK on October 24, was Lennon’s first release since 1975. The Double Fantasy album was issued on November 17.

Lennon wrote this while vacationing in Bermuda earlier in the year.

Despite being the first single in five years from one of the most famous musicians on the planet, this song took a while to catch on. In America, it entered the Hot 100 on November 1, 1980 at #38 and made a slow but steady climb up the chart. Here’s the progression:

Nov. 8: #32
Nov. 15: #10
Nov. 22: #9
Nov. 29: #8
Dec. 6: #6
Dec. 13: #4
Dec. 20: #3
Dec. 27: #1

When Lennon was killed, fans quickly scooped up the single along with lots of other Lennon material, but it took a few weeks for the chart to reflect these sales. When it hit #1, it stayed there for five weeks.

This was recorded at The Power Station in New York City. Musicians included Tony Levin on bass, Earl Slick on guitar, and Andy Newmark on drums.

Double Fantasy was released on David Geffen’s record label, DGC. Many labels were competing for the album, but Geffen impressed Lennon when he wrote directly to Yoko and agreed to release it without hearing it first. All of Lennon’s previous albums were released on The Beatles’ label, Apple.

John and Yoko were considering doing a tour when this was climbing the charts.

This was one of the last songs recorded for the album. Lennon was not sure he should record it, but his producer and session musicians convinced him it would be a hit. It became the first single from Double Fantasy.

The day this was released, Yoko Ono hired a skywriter to write “Happy Birthday” above New York.

The copy of Double Fantasy that Mark Chapman asked Lennon to autograph might be the most valuable record in the world. The record, which figured in the court case, not only has Lennon’s autograph but also boasts Chapman’s fingerprints on the cover. In 2003, the record was sold for £525,000 but its value has since rocketed.

(Just Like) Starting Over

Our life together
Is so precious together
We have grown, we have grown
Although our love is still special
Let’s take a chance and fly away
Somewhere alone

It’s been too long since we took the time
No-one’s to blame, I know time flies so quickly
But when I see you darling
It’s like we both are falling in love again
It’ll be just like starting over
Starting over

Everyday we used to make it love
Why can’t we be making love nice and easy
It’s time to spread our wings and fly
Don’t let another day go by my love
It’ll be just like starting over
Starting over

Why don’t we take off alone
Take a trip somewhere far, far away
We’ll be together all alone again
Like we used to in the early days
Well, well, well darling

It’s been too long since we took the time
No-one’s to blame, I know time flies so quickly
But when I see you darling
It’s like we both are falling in love again
It’ll be just like starting over
Starting over

Our life together
Is so precious together
We have grown, we have grown
Although our love still is special
Let’s take a chance and fly away somewhere

(Over and over and over)

Starting over (over and over and over)

(And over and over and over)

(Over and over and over)

(And over and over and over)