In honor of what would have been John Lennon
's 70th birthday on Saturday, a slew of new Lennon releases are being released this week, including remastered solo albums, a box set and a hits collection. One of the most interesting releases is the stripped-down
edition of Double Fantasy
, which finds Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono
, and the album's original producer, Jack Douglas
, bringing spare arrangements to songs like Woman
and (Just Like) Starting Over
You know, in the '70s and '80s, around that time, the music world had a way of remixing things so the instruments were extremely big, strong, powerful, and they kind of buried the voice,
Ono explained to Billboard.com. "And I used to say, Let's just push up John's voice a little,' and I couldn't do that as much as I wanted do. So this time, because it's Stripped Down,' we kind of dropped a few instruments and suddenly you hear John's voice and how he's singing, and his lyrics are very clear.
When she listened to some of the stripped-down
versions, Ono heard some new qualities in her late husband's vocal delivery.
I didn't know that John was so good and unique not just unique, but the classical diction,
she said. His diction was so perfect in a way that just that alone impresses you. It's almost like listening to a very professional actor doing Shakespeare. And of course you know the language is not Shakespeare, but I felt John was the Shakespeare of our age.
In the interview, Ono said that she's not the curator of Lennon's work, but a protector of his recorded legacy.
I was always a protector, I think, but especially after John's passing,
she said. Before that, I was putting all my energy into the partnership we had and protecting John. John was the one who needed protection. John was the famous one out there. I was in the shadows, so I didn't need to have much protection.
So I was doing that job, and when John left suddenly, I thought, What am I going to do? Where am I going to put this energy?' Of course I have my son [Sean], but that's a different story. There's a big, big, empty space there. Then I thought, OK, I can give my energy to John's fans that I gave John.'
Thanks for the report to Bryan Wawzenek