An “Ultimate Collection,” featuring John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band as well as other Lennon tracks, outtakes, demos, studio jams, and more is available just for Tidal subscribers. The track-by-track commentary, which can be heard on the “Album Experience” version, is available to all listeners.
Lennon’s audio commentary was pulled from a variety of interviews the musician conducted over the years, including chats with Rolling Stone, the BBC, Playboy, and The Village Voice. A few snippets below find the musician talking about tracks like “Isolation” — which has been covered several times during the pandemic — “Hold On,” and the protest classic, “Give Peace a Chance.” Accompanying the commentary audio are animations directed by Sean Ono Lennon in collaboration with the filmmaking team behind I Met the Walrus, Jerry Levitan, James Braithwaite and Josh Raskin
Of “Isolation,” Lennon told Playboy’s Dave Sheff in a 1980 interview: “It’s like breathing in, breathing out. One withdraws and one expands. Tide in, tide out, you know. For me personally, withdrawing to the Himalayas with Maharishi — didn’t matter that it was Maharishi, it just happened to be Maharishi at the time. Withdrawing into primal therapy — it happened to be primal therapy, but I would have withdrawn to something. I think it’s better to breathe in and breathe out rather than just always trying to breathe out. You run out of breath.”
In that same interview with Sheff, Lennon said of “Hold On”: “The swings in emotion from ecstatic highs to suicidal depressions are actually physically and mentally wearing, and I’ve always had it all my life. And it’s just what I’ve stuck with. But on the whole, we were positive. When the Beatles were depressed, we used to have this saying that I used to chant and they would answer. I say, ‘Where are we going fellas?’ and they’d go, ‘To the top, Johnny!’ And I’d say, ‘Where’s that, fellas?’ and they say, ‘To the Toppermost of the Poppermost!’ And I’d say, ‘Riiight!’ Then we’d all sort of cheer up!”
And from an interview with Tariq Ali and Robin Blackburn from January 1971, Lennon said of “Give Peace a Chance”: “I was pleased when ‘Give Peace a Chance’ became a sort of anthem thing in those American things because I’d written it with that in mind, really, hoping that instead of singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ from eighteen-hundred-whatever-it-is, that they would sing something … I felt an obligation even then to write something that people would sing, actually, in the pub or in a demonstration.”