John Lennon Anthology

Dakota

The final disc of the John Lennon Anthology collection was mostly made of home recordings from the late 1970s and outtakes from the Double Fantasy sessions.

Dakota begins with I'm Losing You, recorded with Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen and Bun E Carlos, and session bassist Tony Levin. Although John Lennon loved the hard-edged recording, it was alleged that a dispute between Yoko Ono and Cheap Trick's management meant it remained unreleased for 18 years.

Also from the 16-track Double Fantasy sessions are versions of Nobody Told Me, I Don't Wanna Face It, Dear Yoko, I'm Stepping Out and Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy). The takes often show how the songs developed in the studio, or how they were originally envisaged before being adorned with overdubs and effects.

Eight tracks were from 1979 home recordings. Sean's 'Little Help' was The Beatles' With A Little Help From My Friends sung by the young Sean Lennon. Sean's 'Loud' was similar dialogue between father and son, and Sean's 'In The Sky' was a discussion between Lennon, Ono and Sean about moving the Dakota.

The Great Wok showed Lennon's satirical skills were with him throughout his househusband period. Recorded over a television soundtrack, he affected an Indian accent to improvise a soliloquy invoking Brahma and George Formby while setting out his New Year resolutions for 1979.

Satires 1, 2 and 3 were parodies of Bob Dylan. The first was a parody of Knocking On Heaven's Door, beginning with the lines "Lord, take this make-up off of me/It's bad enough on the beach/But it's worse in the sea".

The second Satire is the longest recording on the disc, a rambling Dylan impression based on three chords, and has Lennon's humour deserting him. The key lines are "stuck inside of a lexicon with a Roget's Thesaurus blues again," and "Sometimes I wish I was just George Harrison and know all the answers. Oh my God, oh my God."

The third Satire lasts less than a minute, and has Lennon responding to a knock on the door with another Dylan impersonation. As with the others, there's little of interest beyond basic historical value, and none warrant repeated listening.

The final 1979 recording on Dakota is It's Real, which ends the collection and was also included on the Acoustic album. Lasting just over a minute, if features Lennon whistling a melody over a set of acoustic guitar chords.

Altogether more interesting are the 1980 home recordings, made when Lennon was contemplating a return to the studio. My Life was an early draft of (Just Like) Starting Over, while Woman, Watching The Wheels and Borrowed Time were similarly reworked before the final versions were made.

Grow Old With Me was featured in demo form on 1984's Milk And Honey. Although Lennon and Ono had high hopes for the song, it was never properly recorded prior to Lennon's death. On John Lennon Anthology it was adorned with a restrained orchestral arrangement by George Martin, giving a flavour of how the love song might have been treated had Lennon's life not been cut short.

Five songs from 1980 were unrecorded in the studio. Life Begins At 40 was a country hoedown written for Ringo Starr, while Dear John saw Lennon's middle age contentment coming to the fore: "Don't be hard on yourself/Give yourself a break/Life wasn't meant to be run/The race is over, you've won".

The Rishi Kesh Song, meanwhile, saw Lennon looking back to the 1960s. A mockery of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Transcendental Meditation, it featured the lines: "The magic's in the mantra, we'll give you the answers/So swallow this - that's all you've got to do."

The cynical Lennon reared his head on Serve Yourself, another biting parody of Dylan, this time focusing on his conversion to Christianity. Featuring a lengthy monologue in which Lennon ranted humorously about ingratitude in the younger generation, it was one of 12 home recordings of the song which tackled subjects including creationism, masturbation, aliens and childbirth.

The other side of the coin was Mr Hyde's Gone (Don't Be Afraid), a ballad for his son Sean, performed in a style reminiscent of former drinking buddy Harry Nilsson. The oldest recording on Dakota, Mucho Mungo, was given to Nilsson in 1974, but the home demo on John Lennon Anthology was made two years later.

Perhaps the most complete recording on Dakota was Only You, a cover version of The Platters' Only You (And You Alone). Lennon led the taping of the backing track during a session for Ringo Starr's 1974 album Goodnight Vienna, which included a guide vocal which Starr later replaced with his own.

3 responses on “John Lennon Anthology

    1. Joseph Brush

      It’s a combination of demos, studio outtakes and live recordings.
      Buy Wonaponatime if you don’t want to spend too much money.
      It is a pretty good overview of the box set.

  1. ThomasThomas

    I have the box set and used it to assemble the demos of Plastic Ono Band as it is my favorite from Lennon. I have since collected bootlegs with more demos from the era and have nearly 20 outtakes of ‘Love’. I was hoping you could tell me which take the version that appears on the Anthology is. I have 1-6 and 12-23 along with two unknown takes. Any help you can give would be appreciated.

Leave a reply