We’re All Water

Some Time In New York City - John Lennon/Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band/Elephants MemoryWritten by: Ono
Recorded: 13 February - 8 March 1972
Producers: John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector

Released: 15 September 1972 (UK), 12 June 1972 (US)

Yoko Ono: vocals
John Lennon: guitar
Adam Ippolito: piano, organ
Gary Van Scyoc: bass guitar
Stan Bronstein: saxophone
Richard Frank Jr: drums, percussion
Jim Keltner: drums

Available on:
Some Time In New York City

The final song on the Some Time In New York City album, We're All Water was written by Yoko Ono as a meditation on the characteristics shared among all people.

We're All Water - Sometime In New York City (Remastered)

The lyrics were adapted from Water Talk, a 1967 poem which was featured in her Half-A-Wind show at the Lisson Gallery in London.

you are water
I'm water
we're all water in different containers
that's why it's so easy to meet
someday we'll evaporate together
but even after the water's gone
we'll probably point out to the containers
and say, "that's me there, that one."
we're container minders

In keeping with the album's themes of political commentary and protest, Ono added references to a number of public figures, among them Richard Nixon, Jerry Rubin, Charles Manson and Nelson Rockefeller. The front cover showed Nixon and Mao Tse-tung dancing naked, which caused consternation among many distributors and stockists. A non-removable sticker was used to obscure many of the copies sold, against the wishes of Lennon and Ono.

You see how they banned the picture here. Yoko made this beautiful poster: Chairman Mao and Richard Nixon dancing naked together, you see? And the stupid retailers stuck a gold sticker over it that you can't even steam off. At least you could steam off that Beatles [butcher] cover. So you see the kind of pressure Yoko and I were getting, not only on a personal level, and the public level, and the court case, and the fucking government, and this, that, and the other, but every time we tried to express ourselves, they would ban it, would cover it up, would censor it.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The central conceit of the song is that, despite the many differences in people's wealth, status, looks, actions and beliefs, humanity can be united through its collective spirit. Furthermore, the chorus ends with the line "Someday we'll evaporate together", a reminder that death is the great leveller.

We're All Water was the longest studio song on the album. An upbeat rocker given Phil Spector's Wall Of Sound production treatment, the recording featured a call-and-response guitar part which unfortunately highlighted Ono's tendency to sing out of tune.

Lennon and Ono performed We're All Water and Woman Is The Nigger Of The World on The Dick Cavett Show on 5 May 1972, backed by Elephant's Memory.

The song had a final outing on 30 August 1972. Lennon gave two performances, named One To One, at Madison Square Garden in New York, as a fundraiser for handicapped children. We're All Water was featured in both the afternoon and evening shows, but wasn't featured in either the video release or the Live In New York City album.

One response on “We’re All Water

  1. tom appleton

    i never bothered with “sometime in new york city” and or most of john lennon and yoko ono’s solo work, excepting maybe “shaved fish”, which was a passable, but too short poor cousin to his beatle-period work. even so, i’m listening to “sometime” now, and, out-of-kilter and out-of-tune as it may be, find yoko’s “we’re all water” quite a cute coda to this amazing piece of trash. fascinating, to think that all these musical big-wigs were getting together, the cream of the 1972 pop world, to back this rank amateur, but there it is. a wild piece of pop craziness, and ART in its own way, outrageous, terrific. none of lennon’s own contributions on the whole DOUBLE (! no less) LP is worth a damn. so this one seems to me to be the thing worth rescuing from this rotten batch, it might make a valuable addition to some kind of fruit salad — some compilation of far-out traxx from the seventies.

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