Song Lyric Sunday – Borrowed Time

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! ๐Ÿ˜ฆ)

“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

  20 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – Borrowed Time

  1. aisasami
    June 13, 2021 at 10:28 am

    Wonderful choice. I have never heard this and I know wonder why. My mom loves John and The Beatles, but I think she didn’t like his solo music. I have to ask her.

    • Christine Bolton
      June 13, 2021 at 12:33 pm

      No me neither Amy. I was a Paul fan. I was fascinated by the backstory to this song. โ˜บ๏ธ

  2. June 6, 2021 at 9:41 am

    Another new Song for me. Interesting backstory.

    • Christine Bolton
      June 6, 2021 at 12:16 pm

      Thanks Maggie. Yes, a story I had never heard before. โ˜บ๏ธ

  3. June 6, 2021 at 8:52 am

    Thanks Christine, Kind of an odd song, but the video was cool and I did enjoy the story of this recording.

    • Christine Bolton
      June 6, 2021 at 9:04 am

      Thanks Jim. Yes it was not his greatest. It was lacking musically but I understand the motivation for writing it ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  4. June 6, 2021 at 7:14 am

    It’s unfortunate he was indeed living on borrowed time. Great video ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Christine Bolton
      June 6, 2021 at 8:37 am

      Thanks Liz. The story gave me goosebumps because of the timing of the sea journey, the song and then the murder ๐Ÿ˜ง

  5. June 6, 2021 at 5:47 am

    An excellent choice Christine, interesting back story… luckily there is not much of Yoko’s influence showing ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ

    • Christine Bolton
      June 6, 2021 at 8:36 am

      Thanks Willow. She just always irritated me ๐Ÿ˜•

  6. June 6, 2021 at 5:14 am

    I wasn’t familiar about this song until recently, I saw a video on FB about “prophetic songs / movies” and indeed, this is one of the songs that was included on the list…

    There’s a deeper level of sadness that comes with the song because we know what happened to him..

    • Christine Bolton
      June 6, 2021 at 8:36 am

      Yes Janis โ€ฆ and so soon afterwards. Quite chilling really. Poor John ๐Ÿ˜ข

      • June 6, 2021 at 11:56 am

        Indeed, a great lossโ€ฆ gone too soonโ€ฆ

  7. June 6, 2021 at 2:17 am

    I have to admit that Iโ€™d never heard this song before, but your backstory was fascinating.

    • Christine Bolton
      June 6, 2021 at 8:30 am

      Yes! The song was very simple compared to the story.

  8. June 6, 2021 at 12:54 am

    As always, John’s lyrics are brilliant ..๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ™‚

    • Christine Bolton
      June 6, 2021 at 8:29 am

      They sure are. Thanks Ivor โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿ’•

  9. June 6, 2021 at 12:44 am

    I almost used the same song. LOL
    Great choice! ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • Christine Bolton
      June 6, 2021 at 8:29 am

      Thanks Jen โ˜บ๏ธ๐Ÿ’•

      • June 6, 2021 at 11:28 am

        ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ’•

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