Some Time In New York City, the follow-up to John Lennon’s Imagine, was inspired by radical left-wing politics of the early 1970s. A critical and commercial failure, it featured two discs containing 10 studio songs and six live performances.
The album was borne of the vitality Lennon felt after moving to New York City. He had previously spoken of his love of the city and of America in interviews, and finally moved there with Yoko Ono in September 1971.
Well nobody came to bug us, hustle us or shove us
So we decided to make it our home
If the Man wants to shove us out we gonna jump and shout
The Statue of Liberty said, ‘Come!’
Some Time In New York City
New York rejuvenated Lennon, both personally and musically, and he swiftly wrote a number of songs about his experiences. They were initially acoustic guitar-based, but took on a more traditional rock ‘n’ roll sound once studio work began.
America is where it’s at. You know, I should have been born in New York, man. I should have been born in the Village! That’s where I belong! Why wasn’t I born there? Like Paris was in the eighteenth century or whatever it was, London I don’t think has ever been it. It might have been literary-wise when Wilde and Shaw and all them were there. New York was it! I regret profoundly not being American and not being born in Greenwich Village. That’s where I should have been. But it never works that way. Everybody heads towards the centre, that’s why I’m here now. I’m here just to breathe it. It might be dying, or there might be a lot of dirt in the air, but this is where it’s happening.
Lennon Remembers, Jann S Wenner
Lennon had become interested in political issues while touring with The Beatles in the mid 1960s. At first unsure of whether to speak out against the Vietnam War, and discouraged from doing so, it wasn’t until 1968’s ‘Revolution’ that social commentary began to take centre stage in his music.
As a solo artist Lennon used his songwriting increasingly as a way to chart what was occurring in his life, whether personal or political. ‘Working Class Hero’ and ‘Power To The People’ were key songs of his in the early 1970s, and he and Yoko Ono had spoken out in support of British Black Power leader Michael X, convicted A6 murderer James Hanratty, and the editors of Oz magazine.
Although he encountered resistance from Nixon’s administration, Lennon found a New York ally in political activists Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. He embraced the counterculture movement in New York, aligning himself with the politics of the New Left and their various causes and campaigns.