God - Plastic Ono Band (Remastered)

God, like I Am The Walrus and Happiness Is A Warm Gun before it, was made from three unfinished compositions. Lennon and McCartney often worked in this way, combining unrelated works on songs such as She Said She Said, A Day In The Life and I've Got A Feeling, as well as much of Abbey Road. Lennon also combined three different works in progress to create the Double Fantasy song (Just Like) Starting Over.

God was recorded at EMI Studios, Abbey Road, later in 1970. Lennon initially performed the song on an acoustic guitar; a version was included on the John Lennon Anthology box set in 1998. He later turned to the piano, and also brought in his old friend Billy Preston to add another piano part.

Preston had first met The Beatles in Hamburg in the early 1960s, and in 1969 performed with them on the Let It Be and Abbey Road albums. On God, Preston played a Steinway grand piano, while Lennon performed on a honky tonk-style upright Steinway offering a considerably different sound.

He was on Let It Be and they got on really well. Billy loved the band and they loved Billy. John actually said, 'Come on Billy, do a little of your gospel piano, it's about God, you know.' So it inspired him to something that's his upbringing; Billy learned piano playing and organ playing in church. He really believed in God and that's the way he played on this song. It's beautiful.
Klaus Voormann
Classic Albums: Plastic Ono Band

Ringo Starr's performance during the 'I don't believe' litany was remarkable for its variety of drum fills, none of which were the same. Starr later explained that he never played the same part twice, preferring instead to perform with instinct depending on what was required at that moment.

The studio version of God also included the 'dream is over' coda. Having delivered the bombshell that 'I don't believe in Beatles', Lennon reinforced the message further:

I was the dream weaver, but now I'm reborn
I was the walrus, but now I'm John.
And so dear friends you just have to carry on.
The dream is over.

The section featured some of the finest vocals of John Lennon's entire career. It was as if, finally free from making myths, casting spells and co-writing the 1960s, he had at last found his true voice. All illusions had been cast off and he had found his reality with Yoko Ono. The rest of the world had to find its own way now.

8 responses on “God

  1. Graham Paterson

    A John Lennon masterpiece off his greatest album. Wonderful how this song builds and builds. Lennons great singing with fine piano work by Billy Preston. The message on it obviously shocked a lot of people at the time.

  2. Jan

    Lennon for me by writing this (and Anyway) was Close(r) to GOD,
    God within US all Speaks the Truth,
    Lennon also wrote All I want is the Truth…
    For me he was Part of Our Journey Surching our way Out of here, Planet Pain… etc
    He invites us to go Home , Remember us Going home , 2 of us also and All You Need is Love ALLL Inspired by Holy Spirit
    or God, But in the True way God Loves us to Hear, and Remember our True Home… THANXX SO MUCH Brother JOHN
    I Never forget You and See You in Heaven!!
    Grtz Jan
    I Paint the Light You sing about Dear John

  3. Drew

    As a big John fan, I find myself feeling somewhat uncomfortable with this song, which comes as a surprise to me. I like the overall sentiment but it becomes too gratuitously sentimental at the end I feel, with the lines about him now being John and repeatedly saying the dream is over. I hope I haven’t committed blasphemy in saying that, it’s just a personal feeling, but I’ve yet to see it reiterated elsewhere online so perhaps that’s just me. Yes the Beatles broke up, but I don’t feel it needed to become some narrative. If anything, this song feeds into that myth.

  4. John E Beal

    So did John the musical genius embrace the belief that the there is a Holy Great Spirit of Love that exists in a place not accessible by mortal means ????

    1. Bozo

      Nevermiiiiimd (Gilda R.) The Beatles used lyrics “God and heaven” and John L walked the path of this life gracefully; with peace, love, serenity and musical talent better than most of us. I shall continue listening to Beatle music during my recovery. May the Great Love Spirit pour Love, peace and serenity on all his love children this Holliday season! Ancient Serene Choctaw Hippie signing off. People who hate people will never know the Creator, cuz the Creator is Love. All we need is Love. Rock on

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