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John Lennon - God

2021-10-06 | 🔗

Earlier this year, I got an amazing email—the estate of John Lennon said that they have a treasure trove of audio material from his life, and they were wondering if I would be interested in making an episode around the song “God,” from John Lennon’s first solo album. I’ve never tried making a posthumous episode before, because hearing directly from the artist is at the heart of Song Exploder. But with all the interview archives that they have of him speaking, plus all the isolated tracks from the recordings, and the original demo, it actually seemed possible. So this is a very different and special episode of the show.

In September 1969, John Lennon told the rest of the Beatles that he was leaving the group. Their breakup was announced publicly in April 1970, and that December, John Lennon released his first solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. The Plastic Ono band was the name for a rotating group of musicians that John and his wife, the artist Yoko Ono, had put together. For the making of “God,” the band included Ringo Starr on drums, Billy Preston on piano, and Klaus Voormann on bass. I got to interview Klaus Voormann about his experiences making this track, and in this episode, you’ll hear from him along with the archival interviews with John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and Billy Preston. You’ll also hear the original demo for “God,” and outtakes from the recording sessions at Abbey Road studios. They recorded the final version of this song on October 9, 1970—John Lennon’s 30th birthday.

Archival audio sources: - John Lennon's audio was excerpted from an interview with Rolling Stone's Jann S. Wenner, recorded on December 8, 1970. The full interview can be found here. With grateful thanks to Jann S. Wenner for his permission and collaboration.

- Arthur Janov and Billy Preston's quotes came from interviews conducted in 2005 owned by Yoko Ono Lennon. With grateful thanks to Yoko Ono Lennon for her permission and collaboration.

- Ringo Starr's audio came from the 2008 Classic Albums documentary on John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band, directed by Matthew Longfellow. With grateful thanks to Ringo Starr for his permission and collaboration.

For more, visit songexploder.net/john-lennon.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
You're listening to song exploder, where musicians take apart their songs and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. My name is Rishi case your way song exploder is brought to you by progressive. Are you thinking more about how to tighten up your budget these days, drivers who save by switching you progressive, save over seven hundred dollars on average and customers can qualify for an average of six discounts when they sign up a little off your rate. Each month goes a long way get a quote today: at progressive dot com, progressive casualty, insurance company and affiliates national annual average insurance savings by new customers surveyed who saved with progressive between June twenty twenty and may twenty twenty one potential savings will vary, discounts vary and are not available in all states and situations. This episode is sponsored by indeed, indeed, makes it easy to hire great talent, and you can do it all in one place,
which is why more than three million businesses worldwide use, indeed to hire great talent fast start hiring now, with a seventy five dollars sponsor job credit to upgrade your job post at indeed, dotcom slash song exploiter. This offer is valid through March thirty, first good, indeed, dot com, slash song, explode her to claim your seventy five dollar credit before March thirty, first, indeed, dot com, slash song, exploiter terms and conditions apply, need to hire you need. Indeed, this episode contains explicit language. Earlier this year I got the most amazing he mail, the estate of John Lennon, said they have a treasure trove of audio material from his life, and they were wondering if I would be interested in making an episode around the song, God from John Lennon First Solo album.
I've never tried making a posthumous episode before, because hearing directly from the artist is that the heart of song exploder, with all the interview archives, they have been speaking plus all the isolated tracks from the recordings and the original demo. That actually seems possible. So this is a very different and special episode of the show. In September, one thousand nine hundred and sixty nine John Lennon pulled the rest of the Beatles that he was leaving the group
Their breakup was announced publicly in April, one thousand nine hundred and seventy, and that December John Lennon released his first solo. Album John Lennon Plastic Ono band, the plastic ono band was the name for a rotating group of musicians that John and his wife, the artist Yoko Ono, and put together for the making of God, the band included, Ringo Starr on Drums, Billy Preston on Piano and Klaus Voormann. On bass. I got the interview class Mormon about his experiences, making this track and in this episode, you'll hear from him. archival interviews with John Lennon Ringo, Starr and Billy Preston. You also hear the original demo for God and outtakes from the recording sessions at Abbey Road studios recorded the final version of this song on October. Ninth, one thousand nine hundred and seventy John Lennon.
Birthday, the pizzas but the story of God and what it was about and what it was inspired by really begins. With the breakup of the Beatles, well the guys. That said, I meant bulls and you want to join the band. You know, and then George June then wrangled you and just abandon made it very. Very big at all, and we made it better, you paid, but we sold on my own taste is different from that which I played sometimes it which is called cop out to make money over or because
nor know any better and didn't really enjoy writing third person. Songs about people who lived in concrete had frightened things. I like first person music, but because of my hangups and many other things. I would only now and then specifically about me only two songs I ever wrote were like help install reveals you they will once I really rope from experience and not project Emily. in situation in writing a nice story about it, which always found phony. I wrote all about me, I'm not running it's me and nobody else in nineteen seventy a man in and Yoga Hano started working with psychologist, Arthur Jan Off, who created primal therapy. Primal therapy is based on the idea that we all carry around unprocessed trauma and internalized pain from very, very early on in childhood and instead of processing their trauma, we find,
There are ways to coexist with it. In a nutshell, primal therapy allowed us to feel feelings continually and those feelings usually make you cry cause before I wasn't feeling things that's all. I can feel my own fear. I could feel my own pain. Therefore I can handle it better than I could before here's an excerpt from an interview with psychologist Arthur Jan we haven't talked job I wouldn't before he made it out and he said well what about in god- and I went into a long discourse about you know: people have a lot of pain and they tend to be. The less pain to have the less they believe and he something like. What do you mean that God they're gonna cost? by which we say yes measure, and so he you asking fifth and courting was made in the summer of nineteen seventy red round the and when John and Yoko were attending Arthur Genomes, primal therapy sessions,
in the The idea of God is a concept by which we measure our pain. So when you have a, A word like that. You just sit down and sing the first tune that comes into your hand, on the tune is the symbol. God is the concept and then like in other words they just came out my mouth. the and then I just rolled into. I don't believe in magic. Can you just going on and they had- and I don't know- and I realized I was put down on all these things I didn't believe in and I too, in the the first three or came out whatever came out. You know
I don't believe I don't believe I believe, until I could have gone out of like a Christmas card which do not, but what I went away and church you wonder who are missed out on my back in another. I had to stop in and I was going to leave a I just feel in your own. You know full well, you don't believe in it was just get out of hand and also a big list, the final thing, because it's I no longer believe in in myth. And be losers. Another mission. That's sweet,
In September nineteen seventy John Lennon started assembling musicians to accord as new size included class, for he was the basest and men for man, and he was a long time friend of the Beatles he made the cover art for their Auburn revolver grow. He asked me to be an approach to go in a band. I was knocked out and then it came to it now, I'm going to do with the plastic ono band LP we want to do play on the sessions and when I had ring I was there I was so happy. I mean I always wants to play with ringer and I never really had to transfer up to then here's Ringo STAR just saw the jam would find out how What sort go when we we did among very loose actually actually and anybody. The trio also was a lot of fun I also think that meat was really could play music when they went uptight and if,
I get a thing going. Ringo knows where to go. You know I thought we played together so long as it fits so the three of them started, recording at Abbey Road. videos in London, while on session he always came in with the songs? I think the first version he did was playing On a guitar I mean we were sitting in the studio and displaying it. God is a concept which we measure yes, we do. We never heard the songs before Ringo hasn't heard. I hadn't heard it were completely fresh
in the words of the goddess of cancer by which we measure our pain, the God the concept of Cuba's that loves the DEA and will take one and then let me this and see I haven't. I haven't got an concept in my head about this other than it's meant to be
gospel and he doesn't sign and then like it. You know what? No I don't like it like this at all. In fact, I don't feel in the mood for any of this could do is just such a shame that coming all away and sprout around for two hours and then go wow. Yes, yes, maybe I should play it on piano, you know, and then he went to the piano and he paid very simple, and he really liked it. I can play good piano even worse than I play guitar. So that's a limited palette as they go. You know I'll have to think in terms of go from seed other under.
I sure. Actually I am half the time. So it's it's not kind of feel about it. Isn't it that's reality or fuck tended. I liked all that beginning I was like simple rock and nothing else know I was influenced by acid and no psychedelic. You know the whole generation. really I like rock'n'roll. You know, and I express myself best in rock because it's primitive enough and it has no bullshit When you just hear the piano, does it all for you you mind can do the rest of it. If you've got an ear you can hear any musician will tell you He play a note on a piano
home on it, so we got denying it What the hell, I just needed to know the the God is a concept, and I found a great to me over the plan was to happen. Is it too fast enough to? Let me just give it a that's. Ok, ok I'll, stop it now, and then he went back to the kitchen. Asked because you play the piano and I can't really play a broken all parents really. Well, I mean I learned classic Ghana, but I played a few little leaks, that sort of where a little gospels like,
I think that's the moment where they clicked with him. Why don't we ask Billy Preston to come in and play Well, John Lennon me was the boss. Beetle was character he was witty and just a lot of fun David everyone we felt like you're doing yeah John was the boss beetle the Preston was a Grammy winning musician. He played organ piano and other keyboards as a session player in the sixties, with legends like Little Richard, SAM Cooke Ray Charles and the rolling stones he recorded with the Beatles on their last two albums. This last may, fifteen years after his passing, he was inducted into the rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and this is him playing piano
I met the Beatles and nineteen sixty two when I was on tour with Richard. I was playing Oregon for Little Richard and they were opening act on the show and we played one show in Liverpool, and then we went to Hamburg Germany for two weeks and that's where we really became good friends. We hung out there and I used to get them free. cokes and at the club as I was with Richards, so I can get things you know. And they will always hang around me and asked me things about America different things, so it became good partners. Belief is fantastic. I left and then show much and Ringo said that he never heard Billy play a wrong. Note in his whole life when he played I feel that he's really holding back and he's not playing the gospel piano as crazy. as he can, he really knew I have to do.
That really supports the show and as much as there is space for it, I do something but he could have done much which wouldn't have it's a song so well country. would love to play as simple as you possibly can, and it's the same with me. It was perfectly clear what we were going to play and at them, and John starts sing, a song and you hear his voice and you hear what he is saying you oughta If you know what you have to play. Klaus and I played with him gave him a great opportunity to actually for the first time, early use voice Holly, and his emotion how he could you know? I don't believe in Charis
I don't believe in Hitler. I Jesus. A dog and candidate down in Ringle always said it interviews that he'd never placed the same for the game and he says if you ask, you play that shameful again. He can't do it. You can only do what he feels at the time. the richest. It together, and it was just so much fun. You know, Ringer actually said the way we play that's the best
and just believe in me We went to the control, room and listen to one take and he said just believe in me and then he came up to me and said cars. Do you think I should say Yoko in me and then I told you look that's a question. I cannot. For you here, that's something you have to know by yourself. Not lots of people know Yoko, but she's, very delicate and very fine feeling, and her presence was really good. It was fantastic for John and it was good for us to. You know lots of we were opposed to it and I felt that Jonah going nuts I jumped in being video going all this. You know it was terrible. I wasn't
terrible situation. I mean the very very first time when Yoko came in and Ringo hadn't seen much of Yoko. He was very upset. We all had our wives and our families and no we'd go to work. I can come back suddenly YO go living in the studio with, as it were, free does out. Freaked me out anyway, because he had his drawn from the Beatles. Now she suddenly. If John and Yoko and he had a hard time to get used to this, but John was really good. He went up to Ringo and said, look Ringo. You know me, but now it's yoga and me we both are together and that's how it is and it made him feel much better. And the next days. Everything was fine and I asked him. I said you know what is going on. He says: well, you know we're going to spend every minute together. So
You knew that you were cool, that's what they did. You could tell it was a lovely companionship they were all holding in you know, kissing and dancing. They were always together does nothing more important than our relationship. Nothing it was good survive apart. The watchful I'm not going sacrifice, love real love for any friend or any business, because in the end, the loan at nice time. Neither of us want to be and nothing works better just believe in me,
Alice John, never liked his voice and when he was with the Beatles, he always put a of effects on his voice too that and because she thought the voice didn't sound good. That's what he saw they used to get been embarrassing in front of Julian cause. We know each other so well, although he's trying to be Elvis always doing this night, we will be pretty live each other so inhibited each other over this time It was my album the now there okay, so I can perform better and I and the yeah Gms, the the dreams over. You told another beetles at all until another generation thing
the dreams over like it's over and we are well, I have personally gotta get down to so called reality drawn. Actually he was really trying to say something with his. I don't believe he meant that sort of believe were people, for example, in despair. And the last thing they ask for is: ah God help me, I believe in you and that's where he doesn't believe in. He said the help he only get out of yourself. You can't ask for the body to give it to you and that's what you have to do and if you don't believe in yourself, you're fucked, John was very, very special guy and he had a big hard very sincere and what he did and what he stood for
He was always brave. He would put it out the and the consequences, sometimes but he would always put it out there. That's why you could not not love him, be a burning pain in payments pain is in most of the time, and I think that the bigger the pain, the more ganges eating is a result of pain too. I have to put it somewhere and I write songs. You know because that's the thing I chose to I don't right in the and now here's God
by John Lennon in its entirety. God ass, a cancer by which we measure the which we move, pain
it is the is Man the dad, I the the
Jesus, the adult the A dog
just believe in me- reality. the the
The it's I the and. It is, The visit song exploder dot net for more. You can find links to buy or stream God there's a new eight disc box set called John Lennon plastic I band the ultimate collection and a lot of the material in this episode like the outtakes and the original home recording can also be found on there on the song explore
Recite, there's also a list of all the archival interview sources that were used to make this episode, my deepest thanks to Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon, and to Simon Helton and SAM Gannon from John Lennon's estate into TIM Plumlee from Universal, for the invitation to make this episode and for all their help in completing it. Song exploder is sponsored by Dave's killer bread. I actually love Dave's killer bread, but they gave me a script reads: oh Paradise, attention shoppers we now
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in order to save ten percent off your first purchase of a website or domain. This episode was produced by me and Christian coons. My interview with class vermin was engineered in Germany by Michael Bart Levski. Editing help came from Craig. He and Casey Deal music clearance by Kathleen Smith, and the episode artwork was made by Carlos Lerma song. Exploder is a proud member of Radio Tokyo from PR acts, a network of independent. Listener supported artist, don't applied casts. You can learn more about our shows at Radio Toby. I got fm, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at regime or way can you can follow the show song exploder, you can also get a song exploder t shirt at song, exploder, dot, net, slash shirt, I'm Rishi case your way, thanks for listening.
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-27.