(Just Like) Starting Over

(Just Like) Starting Over single artwork - John LennonWritten by: Lennon
Recorded: 6 August-13 October 1980
Producers: John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Jack Douglas

Released: 24 October 1980 (UK), 20 October 1980 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar
Earl Slick, Hugh McCracken: electric guitar
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
Power To The People – The Hits
John Lennon Anthology
Wonsaponatime

John Lennon’s comeback release from 1980′s Double Fantasy album, (Just Like) Starting Over was a 1950s-style rock ‘n’ roll song which became his final single in his lifetime.

(Just Like) Starting Over - Double Fantasy Stripped Down (Remastered)



As with The Beatles’ I Am The Walrus and Happiness Is A Warm Gun, and Lennon’s solo album track God, (Just Like) Starting Over was made from three unfinished songs. These were written by Lennon in 1979 and 1980, and finished as one shortly before the Double Fantasy sessions began in August 1980.

My Life provided the basis for the introduction; Don’t Be Crazy was adapted for the middle section; and The Worst Is Over became the verses and chorus. Neither was completed to Lennon’s satisfaction, though demos of each were recorded.

My Life was a work-in-progress written during Lennon’s househusband years at the Dakota. He recorded the song at least three times on piano towards the end of 1979, and four times on guitar. It was a love song written for Yoko Ono, which began with the words: “My life, take it/It’s mine to give, take it/Let me live in you/My life, take it/It’s yours/Do what you will/I dedicate it to you.”

One version of the song contained the line “Life is something that happens while you’re making plans”. Lennon later adapted the words for the Double Fantasy song Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy).

One of Lennon’s guitar demos of My Life, recorded in 1980, was included in the 1998 box set John Lennon Anthology, and on the highlights collection Wonsaponatime. Despite having different lyrics to (Just Like) Starting Over, it uses largely the same chords for the opening lines.

Around this time Lennon was working on another song, Don’t Be Crazy, which he recorded in 6/8 time on piano. Despite remaining unfinished and containing draft lyrics (“Why don’t they leave us alone? We cannot shave your hairy legs for you…”), it eventually became the the middle section of (Just Like) Starting Over, beginning with the line “Why don’t we take off alone?”

A third work in progress known as The Worst Is Over became the final piece of the jigsaw. Lennon recorded this on piano with a drum machine backing in 1980; the chords and melody were used for the main part of (Just Like) Starting Over, but the lyrics came later. One of Lennon’s recordings of The Worst Is Over used the verse melody of Don’t Be Crazy as a chorus.

After taking a trip to Bermuda in June 1980, Lennon began work on Double Fantasy in New York’s Hit Factory studio. Although Lennon had written a number of songs for the record, some – including (Just Like) Starting Over and Cleanup Time – remained unfinished.

Starting Over and Cleanup Time were sorta written on the run after I’d finished all the other work of writing the other ones. They just sort of came. They were like the fun after the work is finished. I was still in Bermuda.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Prior to entering the studio Lennon recorded a demo of (Just Like) Starting Over. Performed on a guitar with a drum machine backing, the song’s final structure was in place even if the lyrics were not. “Why don’t we take off alone,” ran the middle section. “Spend a weekend in an old hotel. A little place without a phone, a second honeymoon would do us well.” One of the early verses even harked back to his Beatles days, with a reference to Lewis Carroll’s poem The Walrus and the Carpenter: “The time has come, the walrus said, for you and I to stay in bed…”

4 responses on “(Just Like) Starting Over

  1. David

    I didn’t know about the three fragments being developed as separate songs before Lennon put them together – they work so amazingly well together that I have always thought he had just brilliantly conceived the song as one whole. To this day, whatever I’m doing – working, talking, driving – I stop and listen to this song whenever it comes on. In general I’m more of a McCartney man, but there are not many more poignant songs around than this one!

  2. Marie

    That’s what I love about John, how he matched cool pieces that had little catchy had created a master piece
    (The Worst is ooooveeeerrr!!! —> Starting Oveeeeer!!)

    BTW, after all these years I still cant find someone to tell me WHAT DOES HE SAY ON THE BACKMASKING?(when music stops and makes the chorus/ending)

  3. David

    This is a really great song, nice structure, cool chords and wise lyrics. I like it as much as Woman. Both are among his best.

    Almost forgot: every time I see the videoclip I get a lump in the throat.

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