The tragic irony of John Lennon’s last song
“It’s been very hard but it’s getting easier now
Hard times are over, over for a while”
Released in November 1980, Double Fantasy was to be John Lennon’s first album after a five year self imposed ‘exile’. He hadn’t released a true solo album since the critical bashing of 1973’s Mind Games. This, he hoped was a return to form, and a new chapter as an older, wiser songwriter. The album was to be a ‘family affair’ with Yoko writing and singing a number of songs.
The preceding five years had been tough on the couple. With their marriage ‘on the rocks’ Yoko had encouraged John to embark on an affair with their assistant May Pang. This 18 month ‘lost weekend’ across ’73 to ’75, saw John split his time between New York and Los Angeles, partying hard with hell raisers including Harry Neilson and Keith Moon.
In early 1975, John and Yoko reconnected, welcoming their son Sean in October of that year. For the next five years, the young family enjoyed a period of domestic bliss, allowing time for John to reflect on his priorities and his past.
For the Double Fantasy sessions, John wrote a number of songs that reflected his state of mind. “Beautiful Boy” was written for his son Sean. “Watching the Wheels” reflected on his time away from the record industry and “Woman” was his love letter to Yoko.
In return she wrote songs from her perspective, including “I’m Moving On” and “Beautiful Boys.”
The final song on the album, was called ‘Hard Times Are Over’. The lyrics, written and sung by Yoko acknowledged the past but pointed to a brighter future.
“It’s been very rough
But it’s getting easier now
Hard times are over
Over for a while”
These words turned out to tragically wrong.
On December 8th 1980, just two weeks after the release of Double Fantasy John was in the studio recording songs for Yoko’s solo project. They had just learnt that Double Fantasy had gone Gold and the couple discussed plans for a follow up album and tour in the Spring.As they both returned to the Dakota building from a successful day at the Record Plant, five shots rang out.
Four of the five hollow point bullets hit John in the back and shoulder puncturing a lung and artery. He died in a police cruiser as it raced towards the Roosevelt Hospital.
Their dream of an easier future together was shattered. Hard Times were over.