Death of Samantha (song)

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"Death of Samantha"
Single by Yoko Ono
from the album Approximately Infinite Universe
B-side "Yang Yang"
Released 26 February 1973 (US)
4 May 1973 (UK)
Format 7"
Genre Rock
Length 3:40 (single edit)
6:22 (album version)
Label Apple
Writer(s) Yoko Ono
Producer(s) Yoko Ono, John Lennon
Yoko Ono singles chronology
"Now or Never"
(1972)
"Death of Samantha"
(1973)
"Josejoi Banzai"
(1973)

"Death of Samantha" is a song written by Yoko Ono and first released on her 1973 album Approximately Infinite Universe. It was also released as a single, backed by "Yang Yang."[1][2][3] It has also been covered by a number of artists, including Boy George, Hermine Demoriane and Porcupine Tree.

Description[edit]

"Death of Samantha" is sung by Ono, with her husband John Lennon playing guitar and Elephant's Memory providing additional musical backing.[4][5] Author Gillian Gaar has called the song a "moving portrayal" of a woman who has "repressed all feelings for the sake of outward appearance."[6] Steven Mirkin of the Orange County Register describes the song as "slow twisty blues."[7] Jon Pareles of the New York Times calls the song "elegiac."[8] Ono biographer Jerry Hopkins calls it "depressing."[9] Author Bruce Pollock claims that in the song, Ono "sounds eerily like Kate Bush."[10]

Ono's son Sean Lennon claims that the song was inspired by an incident that occurred on election night in 1972.[11] That night, Richard Nixon, whose administration had Lennon under surveillance and wanted Lennon deported,[12] was re-elected as President of the United States.[13] Lennon got drunk at a party and fondled another woman's breasts.[11] Sean has stated that the song "was all about dad having sex with some girl at a party where my mom was."[11] Ono has said that the song flashed to her in the studio, remembering "something terribly upsetting" that had happened to her, and was feeling like she was "really sad."[14]

Ono has stated that when she wrote the song she "sort of saw this graveyard," explaining that it was not exactly a graveyard because there weren't lots of gravestones, but rather a gray day with "gray people standing around like somebody has died."[14]

After John Lennon's death, many fans found the lyrics of "Death of Samantha" descriptive of the vigil for Lennon.[14][15] Ono has said that at the time "many fans sent me the 'Death of Samantha' lyrics saying that it was uncanny that the lyrics seemed to be describing the vigil. They said, 'You were talking about now.' It was very sad but in a way it was kind of spot-on."[15]

In addition to its appearance on Approximately Infinite Universe, "Death of Samantha" has appeared on a number of Ono's compilation albums, including Onobox and Walking on Thin Ice.[16]

Other versions[edit]

Porcupine Tree covered "Death of Samantha" on the 2007 collaboration album Yes, I'm a Witch, performing with Ono's vocals.[17] James Hunter of SPIN Magazine describes their version as "gothlike."[18] Robert Sandall of The Telegraph remarks on the contrast between Ono's "gravely tremulous vocal" and the acoustic guitar backing, which he describes as "a stark approach which lends her the air of a Leonard Cohen impersonator."[19] Amy Longsdorf of The Spokesman Review calls it one of the best songs on Yes, I'm a Witch, claiming it has a "silvery spaciousness" to it, describing the song as "aching."[20]

Hermine Demoriane covered the song on her 1984 album Lonely at the Top.[21] Allmusic critic Ned Raggett calls this version "an inspired nod to an equally unique artist."[21]

A cover by Boy George has been released on his 2013 album, This Is What I Do.[22]

Other influences[edit]

The punk rock band Death of Samantha took its name from the title of this song.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Walentis, A. (September 6, 1976). "Forgettable Album Offerings". Reading Eagle. p. 29. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Castleman, H. & Podrazik, W.J. (1976). All together now: the first complete Beatles discography, 1961-1975. Ballantine Books. pp. 121–122. 
  3. ^ Spizer, J. (2005). The Beatles solo on Apple Records. University of Michigan. p. 343. ISBN 9780966264951. 
  4. ^ Harry, B. (2000). The John Lennon Encyclopedia. Virgin. p. 223. ISBN 9780753504048. 
  5. ^ "Approximately Infinite Universe". Allmusic. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Gaar, G.G. (2002). She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll (2nd ed.). Seal Press. p. 194. ISBN 9781580050784. 
  7. ^ Mirkin, S. (2 October 2010). "Stars salute the best of Yoko Ono at the Orpheum". Orange County Register. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Pareles, J. (17 February 2010). "Amid All That Experience, Innocence". New York Times. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Hopkins, J. (1987). Yoko Ono. University of Michigan. p. 181. ISBN 9780283995217. 
  10. ^ Pollock, B. (2011). If You Like the Beatles...: Here Are Over 200 Bands, Films, Records and Other Oddities That You Will Love. Backbeat Books. ISBN 9781617130182. 
  11. ^ a b c Giuliano, G. (2001). Lennon in America: 1971-1980, Based in Part on the Lost Lennon Diaries. Cooper Square Press. p. 55. ISBN 9781461635611. 
  12. ^ Van Vugt, W.E. (2001). Barkan, E.L., ed. Making It in America: A Sourcebook on Eminent Ethnic Americans. ABC-CLIO. p. 201. ISBN 9781576070987. 
  13. ^ Broder, D.S. (November 8, 1972). "Nixon Wins Landslide Victory; Democrats Hold Senate, House". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  14. ^ a b c Zollo, P. (2003). Songwriters on songwriting (2nd ed.). Da Capo Press. p. 253. ISBN 9780306812651. 
  15. ^ a b O'Hare, K. (12 February 2007). "Yoko Ono – Iconoclast turns 74 with remix album". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  16. ^ "Death of Samantha". Allmusic. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  17. ^ Jurek, T. "Yes, I'm a Witch". Allmusic. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  18. ^ Hunter, J. (February 2007). "Yes, I'm a Witch". SPIN Magazine. p. 86. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  19. ^ Sandall, R. (17 February 2007). "Pop CDs of the week: Yoko Ono, Louise Setara, Rickie Lee Jones and more...". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  20. ^ Longsdorf, A. (2 March 2007). "Yoko Ono: Yes, I'm a Witch". The Spokesman Review. p. 10. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  21. ^ a b Raggett, N. "Lonely at the Top". Allmusic. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  22. ^ Corner, Lewis (29 August 2013). "Boy George announces first new album in 18 years 'This Is What I Do' - Music News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  23. ^ Adams, D.R. (2002). Rock 'n' Roll and the Cleveland Connection. Kent State University Press. p. 464. ISBN 9780873386913.