Having Come Full Circle

1970

ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE:

“Do you have a picture of “when I’m 64”?

JOHN LENNON:

“No, no. I hope we’re a nice old couple living off the coast of Ireland or something like that, looking at our scrapbook of madness

 
 

 
 

This was the first single released from Double Fantasy, and the first new recording Lennon had released since 1975. It was released as a single on 20 October 1980 in the US and four days later in the UK. Although its origins were in unfinished demo compositions like “Don’t Be Crazy” and “My Life”, it 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. Lennon finished the song while on holiday in Bermuda, and recorded it at The Hit Factory in New York City just weeks later. The original title was to be “Starting Over“. “(Just Like)” was added at the last minute because a country song of the same title had recently been released by Tammy Wynette.

 
 

The album took its title from a species of freesia, seen in the Bermuda Botanical Gardens, whose name Lennon regarded as a perfect description of his marriage to Ono.

 
 

It was chosen by Lennon not because he felt it was the best track on the album, but because it was the most appropriate following his five-year absence from the recording industry. He referred to it during production as the “Elvis/Orbison” track, as he “tongue in cheek” impersonated their vocal styles; at the start of the 2010 “Stripped Down” version of the song, Lennon says “this one’s for Gene, and Eddie, and Elvis… and Buddy.” The uplifting bell at the intro of the song serves as the antidote to the morose bell sound which opens Lennon’s first solo album, Lennon seeing it as his having come full circle.

 
 

Photo credit: Kishin Shinoyama

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The Day the Music Died

 
 

Recorded and released on the American Pie album in 1971, the single by American folk rock singer-songwriter Don McLean was a number-one U.S. hit for four weeks in 1972. The song is a recounting of “The Day the Music Died” — the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.)—and the aftermath. Don McLean wrote the song in Cold Spring, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The song is well known for its cryptic lyrics that have long been the subject of curiosity and speculation. Although McLean dedicated the American Pie album to Buddy Holly, none of the musicians in the plane crash are identified by name in the song itself. When asked what “American Pie” meant, McLean replied, “It means I never have to work again.” Later, he more seriously stated, “You will find many interpretations of my lyrics but none of them by me…. Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on, maintaining a dignified silence.” McLean has generally avoided responding to direct questions about the song lyrics, such as saying, “They’re beyond analysis. They’re poetry.”, except to acknowledge that he did first learn about Buddy Holly’s death while folding newspapers for his paper route on the morning of February 3, 1959, (the line “February made me shiver/with every paper I’d deliver”).

 
 

 
 

American pop star Madonna released a cover version of the song in March 2000 to promote the soundtrack to her film The Next Best Thing (John Schlesinger, 2000). Her cover is much shorter than the original (it contains only the beginning of the first verse and all of the second and sixth verses) and was recorded as a dance-pop song. It was co-produced by Madonna and William Orbit, after Rupert Everett (Madonna’s co-star in The Next Best Thing) had convinced her to cover the song for the film’s soundtrack.