Written by: Lennon
Recorded: July-August 1973
Producer: John Lennon
Released: 16 November 1973 (UK), 29 October 1973 (US)
John Lennon: vocals, guitar
David Spinozza: guitar
Peter E ‘Sneaky Pete’ Kleinow: pedal steel guitar
Ken Ascher: keyboards
Gordon Edwards: bass guitar
Jim Keltner: drums
One of John Lennon’s most melancholy songs, Aisumasen (I’m Sorry) was a response to his faltering marriage to Yoko Ono in 1973.
In April 1971 Lennon recorded home demos of three songs: ‘Oh Yoko!’, God Save Us and Call My Name. The first song was released on Imagine, the second was rewritten as a campaign song for Oz magazine, and the third remained unreleased.
Although incomplete, Call My Name had the melody Lennon later used on Aisumasen (I’m Sorry). Featuring Lennon on guitar and with Yoko Ono audible in the background, its lyrics were similar to the song later released on Mind Games. Interestingly, however, Lennon cast himself as the protector, whereas on Aisumasen he portrayed himself as vulnerable and needing help.
When you’re down and you’re out
And there ain’t nothing you can do about it
I ease your pain girl – yes I ease your pain girl
Yes all you got to do is call my name
Yes all you have to do is call my name
Another home demo of Call My Name was recorded in late 1971. However, the lyrics didn’t suit the political themes that Lennon was working on for Some Time In New York City, and it remained on the shelf for the time being.
By 1973 “I’ll ease your pain” had become “aisumasen”, Japanese for “I’m sorry”. With Lennon’s marriage to Ono under threat in 1973 – he began his affair with May Pang around the time Mind Games was recorded – his confession of guilt was sincere and from the heart.
The change in tone was remarkable when compared with Lennon’s previous expressions of love towards Ono. Several songs on both John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and Imagine were inspired by his love for his wife, but Aisumasen (I’m Sorry) found him lost and adrift without her. The song effectively marked the beginning of the Lost Weekend, Lennon’s 18-month descent into alcohol-fuelled hedonism which ended with his reunion with Ono in 1975.