“(Just Like) Starting Over” is a song written and performed by John Lennon for his album, Double Fantasy. The B-side was Yoko Ono’s “Kiss Kiss Kiss”. It was released as a single on 24 October 1980 in the United Kingdom and three days later in the United States, and it reached number one in both the US and UK after Lennon was murdered. In 2013, Billboard Magazine ranked it as the 62nd biggest song of all-time on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
This was the first single released from Double Fantasy, and the first new recording Lennon had released since 1975. It was chosen by Lennon not because he felt it was the best track on the album, but because it was the most appropriate following his five-year absence from the recording industry. He referred to it during production as the “Elvis/Orbison” track, as he “tongue in cheek” impersonated their vocal styles; at the start of the 2010 “Stripped Down” version of the song, Lennon says “this one’s for Gene, and Eddie, and Elvis… and Buddy.”
Although its origins were in unfinished demo compositions like “Don’t Be Crazy” and “My Life”, it was one of the last songs to be completed in time for the Double Fantasy sessions. “We didn’t hear it until the last day of rehearsal,” producer Jack Douglas said in 2005. Lennon finished the song while on holiday in Bermuda, and recorded it at The Hit Factory in New York City just weeks later. The original title was to be “Starting Over”. “(Just Like)” was added at the last minute because a country song of the same title had recently been released by Tammy Wynette. While commercial releases of the song (original 45rpm singles, LP’s and Compact Discs) run a length of three minutes and 54 seconds, a promotional 12″ vinyl single originally issued to radio stations features a longer fadeout, officially running at four minutes and 17 seconds. This version is highly sought by collectors.
Musicologist Walter Everett noted melodic similarities between a portion of the song and the Beach Boys’ 1964 single “Don’t Worry Baby”. The rising chordal modulation in the chorus is also employed in “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” (1977) by Andy Gibb.
John Lennon – vocals, rhythm guitar
Earl Slick, Hugh McCracken – lead guitar
Tony Levin – bass guitar
George Small – keyboards
Michelle Simpson, Cassandra Wooten, Cheryl Manson Jacks, Eric Troyer – backing vocals
Andy Newmark – drums
Arthur Jenkins – percussion
The song is Lennon’s biggest solo hit in the United States, staying at number 1 for five weeks. Before Lennon was shot in New York City on 8 December 1980, the single had reached number 6 in the US charts. It climbed to number 1 for the week ending 27 December. Billboard ranked it at the No. 4 song for 1981. In the UK it had peaked at number 8 in the charts and had fallen to position number 21 before Lennon’s death propelled it to number 1. It was overtaken to the Christmas Number One Single rank by the St Winifred’s School Choir’s “There’s No One Quite Like Grandma,” finishing at number 2 on that list. The song also reached number 1 on the Cashbox Top 100. By 6 January 1981 there were three Lennon songs in the UK top 5, a feat that remained unequalled for 36 years when Justin Bieber managed to accomplish this in January 2016.
The Flaming Lips recorded a version for the benefit album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.
On 8 October 2010, in honour of his birthday, iTunes released remastered albums, iTunes LPs and a free track, the 2010 remix of “(Just Like) Starting Over”.