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, Gibson.com.