The first experience of the youngest son of John Lennon working with the beatle catalog was scary and intimidating. But Sean Ono Lennon He had two main goals in mind to stay on track: preserve the message of his father in songs and help the musical icon reach a younger audience.
Last Friday, October 9, which would have been John’s 80th birthday, it came to light Gimme Some Truth. The Ultimate Mixes, a compilation of 36 songs carefully chosen by Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon, who was executive producer of the project. Mother and son worked closely with engineer and mixer Paul Hicks to maintain the essence of the songs, which were fully remastered.
Ono Lennon, who birthday the same day as his father and arrived at 45 on Friday, admits to having come out stronger from the process, which recognizes that at times It was very hard.
“I knew it was going to be kind of introspective to me, obviously. I was scared at first, to be honest. I was afraid to spoil everything or not being helpful or being too emotionally difficult to hear my dad’s voice over and over again”Ono Lennon said. “Especially Double Fantasy unleashes a whole period of my childhood that was difficult, because that was when he died. In fact, I was very resistant to working on that record.”.
“After all, it was very healing. It was like therapy. It was very therapeutic, in the end. I am very happy that I was able to do it. I wouldn’t have revisited those songs from Double Fantasy if it hadn’t been for this project. It turned out to be cathartic”he confessed.
Gimme Some Truth, The Ultimate Mixes includes many of the most representative songs of Lennon’s career after the Beatles, from Imagine until Woman, going by Whatever Gets You Thru the Night Y Cold Turkey, among others, and was published in digital format, CD and vinyl.
“For me, the real motivation is that this music cannot be forgotten. Especially Gimme Some Truth, for example. I never felt like my dad’s music was more necessary in terms of message than this week, right now”Ono Lennon said of the protest song.
“I think a lot of people who are cynical assume that, ‘everyone knows those songs’. No, they don’t. There are a lot of guys who don’t know the difference between Ringo and Paul. There are many guys who They don’t know the difference between Mick Jagger and my dad”.
These and other considerations developed by the beatle’s son throughout an extensive interview given to The Associated Press, in which he also elaborated on the experience of finding his voice in the process.
-How was it working on this project?
-It was very deep, heavy and beautiful. I had never listened to the original multi-track tapes. Just hear my dad’s voice or even silence the voice, just hear what the instruments are doing, it was amazing for me. It was really fun, a little bit overwhelming. I’m still nervous because when you put your hand to music that is so beloved, so classical, so immortal, there is some pressure.
-Why did you decide on that title? It’s almost scary how much Gimme Some Truth resonates today.
-There was no option for us at this time. Gimme Some Truth means something now. I think it is a message that everyone can connect with. Any good person from whatever city you are in. If you are a good person, what you want now more than anything is a bit of reality. It just seems like we live in a crazy alternate dimension. I think everyone feels that way. I think it is a very important message.
null-How was it working with your mother?
-I was in the studio when I was young, so I learned things like how compression works, how echoes work, how reverb works, how to equalize voices, from her. In fact, I know very well what your philosophy is. Your top priority with the entire mix is to make sure your voice is clear. She said it was known that my dad didn’t like his voice. I used to turn it down a lot.
When she was producing Imagine, the album, he would go to the bathroom and she would turn him up, and he would come back and take her down … She really believes that leaving the voice alone is the worst thing you can do. Really wants people to hear the lyrics and believes that music should serve the voice. When it comes to mixing my dad’s stuff, that’s his priority. I think he’s right. My mom is the boss.
-Your father wrote Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) referring to you. How was reworking that song like?
-It was honestly my least favorite experience. It was just weird. That song makes me feel infantilized or something. People always play that song and look at me with a smile as if to say: “Is not it adorable?”. I say, “Oh my, I’m an old man now, not a smiling baby in a food commercial.”. That song it is moving for me, but as a musician, composer and producer, it is one of the songs that I like the least because it’s very cloying. It’s cool, I love it. Perhaps it is impossible for me to be objective.
Beautiful Boy It has a very family oriented sound. It is not my aesthetic. But outside of that it was a privilege to help mix a song about me that is very moving. And yes, I was very moved to hear my dad say my name. In the end it says “good night, Sean”. That always reminds me of when he took me to sleep. It had a kind of ritual, the way I lay down. He turned off the lights to the rhythm of his voice, so it seemed like her voice was controlling the lights. Then he left.
-Was it inspired for your own music to have worked on your father’s songs?
-It’s interesting because, first of all, the songs that I can interpret the easiest are those of my dad, especially the voice. When I try to sing his songs, I feel like I can sing them great. We share a lot of the chords. My voice is not as harsh as his, but it is easier to sing his songs than anyone else’s. They teach me how to sing great.
I believe that all my life it was hard for me to find my own voice. I’ve had a hard time finding my voice all this time because every time I try to sing beautifully, it sounds more and more like my dad. In fact, I hate my first records why always I tried to sing differently from my dad, and that took a lot of effort. I ended up singing like a shrill sigh that I don’t like. That was indeed artificial for me.
Listening to this album, all their recordings, the compilation that we made, has helped me realize that I needed to stop avoiding singing that way, which just sounds better. I think it’s going to help me for the album I’m working on. Not keeping anything, just singing. I have this fear that when I let go of my voice I sound a lot like him. But what is the point of singing if I’m not going to sound good?
AP / Por MESFIN FEKADU