The Love and Meaning Behind John Lennon’s Posthumous No. 1 “(Just Like) Starting Over”

In November of 1980, John Lennon released his fifth and final album with his wife Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy, just three weeks before his murder on December 8. The album was Lennon’s first in five years since taking a break from music to raise his son Sean and release of his sixth solo album Rock ‘n’ Roll in 1975.

The 14 tracks of Double Fantasy were written by either Ono or Lennon, including the opening “(Just Like) Starting Over.”

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The Meaning

“(Just Like) Starting Over” was set around Lennon and Ono’s tribulations, including their separation, and the reparation of their relationship, and went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Our life together is so precious together
We have grown, we have grown
Although our love is still special

Let’s take a chance and fly away
Somewhere alone

It’s been too long since we took the time
No-one’s to blame, I know time flies so quickly

But when I see you darling
It’s like we both are falling in love again
It’ll be just like starting over
Starting over

Lennon originally wrote the song while vacationing in Bermuda in early 1980 and first titled it “Starting Over.” He later added “(Just Like)” to the title because of its similarity to Dolly Parton‘s 1980 hit “Starting Over Again.”

Recorded it on August 9, 1980, at The Hit Factory in New York City with guitarist Earl Slick, bassist Tony Levin, and drummer Andy Newmark, “(Just Like) Starting Over” is a song Lennon referred to as “Elvis-Orbison” (Elvis Presley-Roy Orbison) because of the vocal arrangements.

“All through the taping of ‘Starting Over,’ I was calling what I was doing ‘Elvis Orbison,” said Lennon during his final interview, conducted just three days before his death. “It’s like Dylan doing Nashville Skyline,’ except I don’t have any Nashville, being from Liverpool. So I go back to the records I know—Elvis and Roy Orbison and Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis.”

Released on October 27, 1980, the song also revealed Lennon’s feelings of starting over in the music industry again after a five-year hiatus. “I came back from where I know best, as unpretentious as possible, and with no experimentation because I was happy to be doing it as I did it before,” said Lennon.

He added, “We’re born-again rockers, and we’re starting over.”

[RELATED: 7 of John Lennon’s Favorite Songs]

Double Fantasy was a success for Ono and Lennon and went on to win a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1981.

“Sometimes you wonder, I mean really wonder,” said Lennon in his last interview. “I know we make our own reality, and we always have a choice, but how much is preordained? Is there always a fork in the road, and are there two preordained paths that are equally preordained? There could be hundreds of paths where one could go this way or that way. There’s a choice, and it’s very strange sometimes.”

Photo: Steve Morley/Redferns

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