I’m Losing You

The Cheap Trick recording of I’m Losing You remained unreleased until it was included on John Lennon Anthology and the highlights collection Wonsaponatime. In their 1998 form they were slightly edited and lacked Nielsen’s guitar overdubs.

Yoko Ono commissioned a video for the track in 1998, for which Nielsen, Carlos and Levin were reunited; it also featured animations by David Spafford, based on drawings by John Lennon.

I'm Losing You - Double Fantasy Stripped Down (Remastered)


Yoko Ono also rejected the Cheap Trick version of I’m Moving On. The reasons for these decisions have never been fully confirmed, but it is thought that a financial dispute between Ono and the band’s management put paid to their working relationship. She is alleged to have thought Cheap Trick were an unknown band trying to trade on Lennon’s reputation, and neither Lennon nor Douglas was able to persuade her otherwise.

Yoko was great to us when we were there – and she said great stuff about us when the track was finally released 17 years later. We were thrilled that we got to play on it and when it came out all those years later I felt kind of vindicated as I always thought our version was better than the one on the album.
Rick Nielsen
Uncut magazine

Had it been included on Double Fantasy, the Cheap Trick version of I’m Losing You would have been a definite highlight. However, its raw sound was at odds with the polished production of the other songs, and it was decided that the song should be re-recorded.

I remember hearing it and thinking, ‘Wow, that sounds so amazing’. They played it for us a day or two after they had done it, but for whatever reason we cut the tune again.
Andy Nemark, drummer
Uncut magazine

A second attempt was made on 18 August, using the session musicians that appeared on the rest of Double Fantasy. Douglas played the Cheap Trick version in the musicians’ headphones as they recorded.

When the band later recut those songs for the album they didn’t clone our version. But they copied Rick’s riffs on the songs and they did our arrangement of Moving On, too. Jack told me, ‘We cut those songs and had the band play along with it a few times on headphones to try and get the same feel you guys had.’ When we heard that we started laughing, we thought those guys must wanna kill us. We were thinking, Boy, if someone asked us to do that, we’d sure put our unhappy faces on.
Bun E Carlos, Cheap Trick
Starting Over, Ken Sharp

This second attempt was still unsatisfactory, but a final version was arrived at on 26 August; Andy Newmark cut short his holiday in Bermuda to take part. A brass overdub was recorded on 5 September, but was later removed after an unexpectedly large bill was received from the performers.

Lennon recorded his vocals on 22 September. Towards the end of the song he sang the refrain from Lonnie Donegan’s 1956 single Lost John, which he had recorded with Ringo Starr and Klaus Voormann in 1970.

The thing I noticed about the lyrics at the end, he sings ‘Don’t wanna lose you now,’ it’s a quote from the George Harrison song Something. John sings it with that exact melody on the end of I’m Losing You. I’m playing [Fender] Rhodes, organ, and synth on that.
George Small, keyboards, Double Fantasy
Starting Over, Ken Sharp

The segue from I’m Losing You to I’m Moving On on Double Fantasy also incorporated a scratchy guitar part performed by Lennon on I Don’t Wanna Face It, a song recorded during the sessions but which remained unreleased until 1984′s Milk And Honey.

The main electric guitar John used during the sessions was a Sardonyx guitar. It was a custom guitar made by a guy in Brooklyn. There were very few of them made. It looked like a Steinberger bass, but coming out of the body were these two metal aluminium struts. It made it look like the Starship Enterprise so John called it his ‘space guitar’… He had an Eventide Harmonizer that someone had modified for him and he usually put the guitar through it. There was a specific setting that he loved and he didn’t mess with it too much. You can really hear it wailing on the end of I’m Losing You.
Jon Smith, assistant engineer, Double Fantasy
Starting Over, Ken Sharp

I’m Losing You was considered as a fourth single from Double Fantasy, but after Lennon’s death it was decided to stop issuing songs from it after Watching The Wheels was released in March 1981.

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