Dear Yoko

Double Fantasy - John Lennon and Yoko OnoWritten by: Lennon
Recorded: 6 August-13 October 1980
Producers: John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Jack Douglas

Released: 17 November 1980

John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar
Hugh McCracken: electric guitar, harmonica
Tony Levin: bass guitar
George Small: keyboards
Michelle Simpson, Cassandra Wooten, Cheryl Mason Jacks, Eric Troyer: backing vocals
Andy Newmark: drums
Arthur Jenkins: percussion

Available on:
Double Fantasy
John Lennon Anthology
Acoustic

Just as John Lennon closed the Imagine album with Oh Yoko!, his last word on the Double Fantasy album was a love song explicitly dedicated to his wife Yoko Ono.

Dear Yoko - Double Fantasy Stripped Down (Remastered)


It says it all. It’s a nice track and it happens to be about my wife. Instead of Dear Sandra, which another singer might write about a woman who may or may not exist, this is about my wife.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Elsewhere on the album he had sung Woman, a universal love song intended to appeal to all. Lennon often flitted between the general and specific in his songs; Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), for example, was initially recorded without naming his son Sean.

Lennon recorded a demo of Dear Yoko at his home on Long Island’s Cold Spring Harbor in the spring of 1980, performed directly into a video camera. He taped the song again on June 1980 while holidaying in Bermuda.

The song was recorded at the Hit Factory studio in New York on 14 August 1980, in just six takes. The first of these was included in the 1998 box set John Lennon Anthology.

Here’s something that I’m not proud of… I was so fucking hungover and sick that day that I didn’t show up at the studio. I called, but I didn’t play on it. I was so fucked up that I couldn’t get to the studio. This is part of who I was at the time. That was one of the very few times in all the years, even when I was out of control, that I ever did something like that and of course I did it on a Lennon record.
Earl Slick, Double Fantasy guitarist
Starting Over, Ken Sharp

Lennon guided his session musicians towards Shirley & Company’s 1975 disco classic Shame Shame Shame for inspiration, but his vocal delivery was clearly in tribute to his childhood idol Buddy Holly.

It had an early fifties feel to it that John was so good at because he was good at that rhythm. I thought it was the lightest, funniest track on the record.
Jack Douglas, producer, Double Fantasy
Starting Over, Ken Sharp

The recording featured various parts played by guitarist Hugh McCracken, including harmonica and slide guitar played in unison.

Because Earl wasn’t there, that was Hughie [McCracken]‘s track in terms of how the guitars are structured. Hughie really took over the musical part of that song.
Jack Douglas
Starting Over, Ken Sharp

Once the basic track was complete, extra instruments were overdubbed at subsequent sessions in August 1980, and Lennon recorded his lead vocals on 22 September. This was the same day he and Ono signed their record deal with Geffen Records, the label which issued Double Fantasy two months later.

Hugh McCracken played four different harmonicas on Dear Yoko. That gave it a unique sound.
Tony Davillo, Double Fantasy arranger
Starting Over, Ken Sharp

7 responses on “Dear Yoko

      1. Ruswal

        Thanks mate. In the chorus, after the ” oh oh oh dear yoko” we can hear a guitar riff. But is there harmonica played at the same time? I don’t know if i’m understood.

          1. Joe Post author

            I didn’t use the quote in the article, but this is from Ken Sharp’s book: “I play harmonica and slide guitar in unison on that song” – Hugh McCracken. He may have added more harmonica parts separately too.

            1. Ruswal

              But ” in unison ” it means that guitar and harmonica play the same note at the same time, isn’it ? My question was : Can we hear an harmonica during the chorus after the ” oh oh oh dear yoko ” or is it just the guitar riff ? Just wanted to know

Leave a reply