The song was written in 1977; towards the end of that year Lennon recorded a series of home demos of it, along with several other songs he was working on during his househusband period.
Lennon’s home demos were performed on an acoustic guitar, and sometimes featured a drum machine backing. His vocals on these recordings often featured comedy accents, suggesting he didn’t consider the message to be particularly serious.
Another demo were recorded during Lennon’s holiday in Bermuda in June 1980, at a time when he was considering returning to the public eye. He felt rejuvenated by the trip, and most of his songs had a tangible air of positivity.
‘I Don’t Wanna Face It’, however, harked back to his early solo work. Lines such as “Say you’re looking for some peace and love/Leader of a big old band/You wanna save humanity/But it’s people that you just can’t stand” could have come straight from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band or Imagine, and found Lennon baring a side of his character that he had kept hidden for years.
Lennon considered giving ‘I Don’t Wanna Face It’ to Ringo Starr for his album Can’t Fight Lightning, which was eventually released in 1981 as Stop And Smell The Roses. Although Starr received a copy of the Bermuda demo, in the wake of Lennon’s death he felt unable to record the song.
In 1981 it was reported that Julian Lennon was considering recording ‘I Don’t Wanna Face It’, after his father’s assistant Fred Seaman gave him a copy of the Bermuda tape. Eventually Yoko Ono prevented it from happening, presumably because she was intending to release one of Lennon’s recordings herself.
‘I Don’t Wanna Face It’ was recorded at New York’s Hit Factory studio in August 1980, as one of the first songs attempted during the Double Fantasy sessions. An alternative version was later released on the 1998 box set John Lennon Anthology, as well as the highlights collection Wonsaponatime.
Lennon’s guitar outro in this alternative version was later used for the transition between ‘I’m Losing You’ and Ono’s ‘I’m Moving On’, when they appeared on Double Fantasy.