Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blue are the prompts this week for Song Lyric Sunday, hosted by our friend Jim Adams. There are some great songs out there to choose from with these prompts in the title or lyrics and I think we will see a wide variety of picks.
I have chosen Borrowed Time by John Lennon. I have to admit it is not my favorite song from him, but there is an interesting backstory to the song, and the video gives us a chance to see some special Lennon moments. (Do your best to block out Yoko Ono! 😦)
“Borrowed Time” is a song from John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s last album, Milk and Honey. While the single failed to chart in the United States, it charted at number 32 in the UK Singles Chart. The B-side features Ono’s song “Your Hands” from the same album.
The song was inspired during Lennon’s 1980 sailing holiday from Newport Rhode Island to Bermuda. During the journey, Lennon’s yacht encountered a prolonged and severe storm, resulting in most of the crew eventually succumbing to profound fatigue and seasickness. Lennon (free of seasickness) was eventually forced to take the yacht’s wheel alone for many hours. Lennon found this terrifying but invigorating, with the effect of both renewing his confidence and making him contemplate the fragility of life (Lennon claimed his recovery from heroin addiction some years earlier had rendered him immune to seasickness). Once he arrived in Bermuda, Lennon heard the line ‘living on borrowed time’ from Bunny Wailer’s “Hallelujah Time” and was inspired by his recent experience to write the lyrics around that theme. Wailer was also the inspiration for the reggae feel of the music. Lennon commented that living on borrowed time was exactly what he was doing but then said, “come to think of it, it’s what we’re all doing, even though most of us don’t like to face it.”
A demo of the song with acoustic guitar and double-tracked vocals was recorded in Bermuda on 22 June 1980 and was released on the John Lennon Anthology in 1998.
An attempt was made to formally record the song during the Double Fantasy sessions on 6 August 1980. It was the second song attempted during the sessions, with Lennon telling the band to think of the Isley Brother’s “Twist and Shout” and “Spanish Twist”. As he was somewhat frustrated that the band could not quite catch the reggae feel, Lennon decided to set the song aside. A horn overdub was planned, but never recorded.
Courtesy of Wiki
Sadly, this proved prophetic, as Lennon was killed in December 1980. (from Fred Seaman’s The Last Days of John Lennon)
According to Yoko Ono, Lennon considered his time precious, and was aware that his life could be cut short.
This is a very lighthearted song, but the title became sobering when John was killed. “Now when we think about the title, it’s just kind of chilling in a way, that he was very aware that it was a borrowed time,” Yoko said in a 1998 interview with Uncut.
Courtesy of Songfacts
LYRICS When I was younger Living confusion and deep despair When I was younger Living illusion of freedom and power When I was younger Full of ideas and broken dreams (my friend) When I was younger ah hah Everything simple but not so clear Living on borrowed time Without a thought for tomorrow Living on borrowed time Without a thought for tomorrow Now I am older The more that I see the less that I know for sure Now I am older The future is brighter and now is the hour Living on borrowed time Without a thought for tomorrow Living on borrowed time Without a thought for tomorrow Good to be older Would not exchange a single day or a year Good to be older Less complications everything clear Living on borrowed time Without a thought for tomorrow Living on borrowed time Without a thought for tomorrow Writer/s: JOHN LENNON, JOHN WINSTON LENNON Publisher: Downtown Music Publishing Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind