The origins of ‘Gimme Some Truth’ dated back to The Beatles’ 1968 trip to Rishikesh, India, where they studied Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The group first performed it during the Let It Be sessions in January 1969, where Paul McCartney assisted with some of the composition.
Much had changed for Lennon between then and the recording sessions for Imagine. He had kicked his addiction to heroin, undergone Primal Therapy with Dr Arthur Janov, and established himself as a successful solo artist.
He had, however, lost none of his invective, and the lyrics to ‘Gimme Some Truth’ were updated to include references to US president ‘Tricky Dicky’ Nixon. Indeed, in 1971 Lennon was becoming heavily politicised, and ‘Gimme Some Truth’ marked one of his earliest protest songs.
‘Gimme Some Truth’ was the name of the 2010 reissue campaign of Lennon’s solo works, which was timed to coincide with what would have been his 70th birthday.
In the studio
‘Gimme Some Truth’ featured George Harrison on slide guitar, and The Beatles’ Hamburg associate Klaus Voormann on bass guitar. It was recorded at Ascot Sound Studios, John Lennon’s recording studio at his Tittenhurst Park home, on 25 May 1971.
After one of the performances, which was captured on film, Lennon indicated he thought it was suitable for release. Producer Phil Spector’s comment that “It’s getting there” prompted a disappointed Lennon to respond: “Oh, wasn’t that it?” The musicians nailed it on the following attempt, take 4.
On the eight-track tape, tracks 1 and 2 contained Voormann’s bass and Alan White’s drums respectively. Track 3 contained bass and snare overdubs.
John Tout’s piano and Nicky Hopkins’ electric piano were recorded on track 4, while Lennon’s electric guitar was on 5.
Track 6 contained acoustic guitars played by Rod Lynton and Andy Davis, and 7 had an electric guitar overdub by Lennon.
Track 8 contained further overdubs of Lennon’s vocals and Harrison’s slide guitar.
Lennon recorded his lead vocals and slide guitar on 28 May. During one attempt he recorded the song in an Eddie Cochran style, and even included a line from Cochran’s song ‘Cut Across Shorty’.
In the final version, Lennon can be heard at the song’s end howling “All I want is the truth”. Although the album mix was faded out, on the original recording the band continued playing until they eventually came to a halt. The recording ended with Lennon’s words: “This is the truth”.
A bass guitar overdub was taped on 4 July 1971 by Klaus Voormann at the Record Plant in New York.