One Random Single a Day #10: “(Just Like) Starting Over” (1980) by John Lennon

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By some magical stroke of luck, I have come across a single that I will inevitably be writing about in my next Billboard Hot 100 post. Thus, I’ve decided to use this single review as a bit of a taste for what’s to come! This was one of the biggest hits of its corresponding year, reaching number one during the last week of December (after Lennon was murdered) and then for four more weeks at the start of 1981. Moreover, Billboard would go on to rank it as the fourth biggest song of ’81 – you can catch exactly what songs it outranked in my overview of the top 100 songs of the year, which should be finished in the next few days!

I probably don’t need to explain who John Lennon is… so I won’t. The song itself is a more interesting specimen anyway, I think. It’s a throwback to the rockabilly sound of the early rock ‘n’ roll days, which is both unsurprising and not. On one hand, the early 80s already seem pretty obsessed with the 60s in general; on the contrary, the sound Lennon is replicating is more Gene Vincent and early Elvis than Roy Orbison and later Elvis. In any case, there’s something rather funny about Lennon copying the sound of the era of pop music before his own band came along and shook things up permanently.

I will admit, I don’t think as highly of Lennon as most, but I do like this song. I like the cute bell at the start. I like the slow start that smoothly leads into the bouncy piano-and-guitar-led tempo. I even like Lennon himself, who seems mellow and genuinely relaxed, as if those five years apart from the music scene was time well worth spent. The lyrics are simple and honest, which I think further adds to its retro charm. Lines like, “It’s time to spread our wings and fly / Don’t let another day go by, my love / It’ll be just like starting over” fall into the same line of idealistic thinking that Teenagers In Love would employ – although with the added bonus that the speaker is no longer quite so young, which somehow makes such promises feel less empty.

I can see how this really resonated with people after Lennon’s death, even after considering that it just happened to be the one single released from Double Fantasy at the time. It doesn’t sound at all Beatles-esque, but there is a fresh, youthful quality to the recording that even Lennon’s earlier solo work didn’t quite demonstrate. Although the song is about rekindling the flames of a tired romantic relationship, there’s no way that it couldn’t also be interpreted as his own message to ever-adoring fans in hopes for a new start in that manner as well. Lennon was always kind of personal that way, and while I’m not always so quick to offer my undying praises in that direction, I’d say that this was one of his better works and it’s a shame that he wasn’t around longer for us to hear more of it.

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One Response to One Random Single a Day #10: “(Just Like) Starting Over” (1980) by John Lennon

  1. Pingback: Billboard’s Hot 100 of 1981 | Films Like Dreams, Etc.

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