Double Fantasy

The release

Double Fantasy Stripped Down (Remastered) - John Lennon & Yoko Ono

Lennon and Ono had released their songs together on the same album before, but the balance was never as even as on Double Fantasy. Subtitled 'A Heart Play', the album largely alternated songs sung by each of the couple, although Lennon closed the first half and opened the second, and Ono's Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him and Hard Times Are Over closed the album.

They decided to sign to David Geffen's new label Geffen. Although it was well known in the music industry that Lennon had returned to studio recording, Ono wished the work to remain under wraps until the master tapes were ready.

Lennon later explained that Geffen was the only label head to agree to a deal without hearing the songs first. An alternative view, however, is that Geffen pleased the couple by agreeing to negotiate with Ono, whereas other labels were interested in only Lennon's songs.

Lennon's comeback was hotly anticipated by critics and consumers, and Lennon and Ono embarked upon a weighty promotional schedule. This focused mainly on the US broadcast and print media, and in the first few weeks on sale the album accordingly performed better there than in other countries.

Double Fantasy had its worldwide release on 17 November 1980. In the United Kingdom it made its chart début on 22 November at number 27, and the following week rose to 14. Thereafter it fell to positions 25 and 46, proving that the curious collection of songs of nostalgia, domestic contentment and disco wasn't to everyone's taste.

In the United States it fared better, charting at number 25 before rising to 12 and then 11. After Lennon's death on 8 December 1980, however, the public quickly grew hungry for his music, and Double Fantasy rose from 11 to number one. It remained at the top of the chart for eight weeks.

In the United Kingdom it rose from 46 to number two, where it stayed for seven weeks, before peaking at number one for a fortnight from 7 February 1981.

The first single from the album, (Just Like) Starting Over, was also a worldwide chart-topper, and subsequent singles Woman and Watching The Wheels were also commercial successes.

Double Fantasy won the 1981 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Yoko Ono received the award at a ceremony held on 24 February 1982.

Double Fantasy Stripped Down

In June 2010 it was announced that remasters of Lennon's solo back catalogue would be reissued to commemorate his 70th birthday. One of the releases was Double Fantasy Stripped Down, a two-CD set featuring artwork by Sean Lennon.

Double Fantasy Stripped Down was released on 4 October 2010. The first disc contained the remastered album, while the second removed many of the earlier studio embellishments to present the songs in a simpler fashion. Produced by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, the remixed version was intended to bring Lennon's vocals to the fore.

Double Fantasy Stripped Down really allows us to focus our attention on John's amazing vocals. Technology has advanced so much that, conversely, I wanted to use new techniques to really frame these amazing songs and John's voice as simply as possible. By stripping down some of the instrumentation the power of the songs shines through with an enhanced clarity. Double Fantasy Stripped Down will be complemented by the original album in the 2CD format. It was whilst working on the new version of this album that I was hit hardest emotionally, as this was the last album John released before his passing.
Yoko Ono

7 Responses to “Double Fantasy”

  1. Tweeze

    I don't play this album because it takes me right back to that time and then I have to relive it. I had just retired for the evening and my phone rings. My mother, so very aware of my total idolization of the Beatles and, especially, John, was on the other end, "I just heard some news that John Lennon was shot." All I could think was, "Why would anyone want to do that?" I flipped on my radio and that was the only thing on the news, "John Lennon is dead."
    I had plans to visit New York in January of '81 to do exactly what I'd been wanting to do since the mid '60s - go meet John - just shake his hand. Then this - it must be some kind of cosmic joke. Even until today I am entirely stunned. This bothered me - indeed - but then a recording source in Louisiana had informed me that John and Paul had been social of late and were, indeed, considering seriously working together though not necessarily in a Beatle capacity. That possibility alone, and I like to think it was true, makes this album harder to listen to.
    I wasn't terribly impressed with John's work here but it wasn't embarassing either. I'm one of the apparently rare people who like Yoko's work, though there are times when she probably shouldn't sing. "Woman" edges very nicely toward early Beatles' in atmosphere while "Dear Yoko" ends up sounding like what John should have been doing on the rest of the album - letting it hang loose and having fun. "Every Man Has A Woman...." is the one that is the hardest for me to shake. The melody is peculiarly haunting and, on this version, John and Yoko's harmonies work very well. Interesting lyrics here.

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  2. kezron9

    Hey why did John claim to have lost his muse? Is he meaning that he didn't have the urge to release music? I read the books by his assistant Fred Seamen and the tarot advisor Charlie Swan ( John Green) and they claim he lost his muse also basically quoting John. But I've heard the great demos from 76-80. Mostly the ones from 79-80 ended up on DF. But many of the songs are in rough from, but the melody and music is almost the same on double fantasy. Also the song topics are basically there too with many of the lyrics being present also on the demo. I think in Bermuda he fully completed these song but I dont consider that losing your muse just lack of motivation. Any with input? Many of the demos are on youtube and are fantastic.

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    • Julian

      Well, John tended to exaggerate a lot in interviews, so he might say that all the songs SUDDENLY came to him in Bermuda, but the truth of the matter is he has been working on them for a while. What's sudden about it is that in Bermuda John finally decided to take those demos to the studio and make an album. Suddenness is true but in a slightly different way.

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      • kezron9

        Agree 100% Julian. Wish it didn't take him 5 years to figure out whatever he realized on that sailing trip, life is sweet, cherish it.

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  3. GK

    "Its hard to listen to this album without thinking of when it came out, and then being left with it after he died, it has so many memories.
    In the summer of 1980, I saw a photo of John and Yoko coming out of the Hit Factory in New York in the newspaper. Not been seen hardly for 5 years, and there he is, "cool" as you like with a brief case and hat. A new album on the way after people saying he would never record again.....
    Hearing the lead single "Just Like Starting Over" which got some mixed reviews, hearing it for the first time was great anticipation! I got the album on release, "Clean up time" (the only JL track from DF not on the John Lennon Collection) is a good "funkyish" guitar track, with great lines like "no friends and yet no enemies". "I'm losing You" was a personal favourite, great vocal, good track, biting lyrics all the way through,"Beautiful Boy" is a classic, always moves me as a song."Watching the Wheels" was class in 1980, and still sounds so after so many years. I never liked the "Dear Yoko" track, thought it was a little corny......."Woman" was and is beautiful, a mature Lennon track.
    These were and are matched with the Yoko tracks that sounded very upfront on production, and I read a review at the time that said they were more advanced than John's."Kiss Kiss" was on the b side of "Starting Over", a strong track, I like "I'm Moving On", "Beautiful Boys" has good lyrics, linking in John at 40 and Sean at 4, and the dangers of "Boys toys" and "war mongering" (could apply to today couldn't it?). There are one or two others that were emotive at the time, but less so now.
    The new cd has the "Help me to help myself",demo, an undiscovered little "gold nugget" from John.....full of premonition.....
    The sadness with what happened to JL, quite apart from the personal tragedy, was the fact that JL still had more songs, he would have developed as he got older, not to say he would have got better, just different, and no less interesting.
    Sonically, "Double Fantasy" (still a great title!) sounds fantastic!"

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