Give Peace a Chance

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"Give Peace a Chance"
Single by Plastic Ono Band
B-side "Remember Love" (Yoko Ono)
Released 4 July 1969 (UK)
7 July 1969 (US)
Format 7"
Recorded 1 June 1969 in Montreal, Quebec
Genre Rock
Length 4:54
Label Apple
Writer(s) John Lennon
Producer(s) John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Plastic Ono Band singles chronology
"Give Peace a Chance"
(1969)
"Cold Turkey"
(1969)

"Give Peace a Chance" is a song written by John Lennon (originally under the moniker Lennon–McCartney), and performed with Yoko Ono in Montreal, Canada.[1] Released as a single in 1969 by the Plastic Ono Band on Apple Records (catalogue Apple 13 in the United Kingdom, Apple 1809 in the United States), it is the first solo single issued by Lennon, released when he was still a member of the Beatles, and became an anthem of the American anti-war movement during the 1970s. It peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 2 on the British singles chart.

Writing and recording[edit]

Recording "Give Peace a Chance". Left to right: Rosemary Leary (face not visible), Tommy Smothers (with back to camera), John Lennon, Timothy Leary, Yoko Ono, Judy Marcioni and Paul Williams

The song was written during Lennon's 'Bed-In' honeymoon in Montreal, Canada.[2] When asked by a reporter what he was trying to achieve by staying in bed, Lennon answered spontaneously "Just give peace a chance". He went on to say this several times during the Bed-In.[2] Finally, on 1 June 1969, in Room 1742 at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, André Perry recorded it using a simple setup of four microphones and a four-track tape recorder rented from a local recording studio.[3] The recording session was attended by dozens of journalists and various celebrities, including Timothy Leary, Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, Joseph Schwartz, Rosemary Woodruff Leary, Petula Clark, Dick Gregory, Allen Ginsberg, Murray the K and Derek Taylor, many of whom are mentioned in the lyrics. Lennon played acoustic guitar and was joined by Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers, also on acoustic guitar.

When released in 1969, the song was credited to Lennon–McCartney.[4] On some later releases, only Lennon is credited; viz. the 1990s reissue of the album Live in New York City, the 2006 documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon, and the 1997 compilation album Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon and its DVD version six years later. Lennon later stated his regrets about being “guilty enough to give McCartney credit as co-writer on my first independent single instead of giving it to Yoko, who had actually written it with me.”[1] However, it has also been suggested that the credit was a way of thanking McCartney for helping him record "The Ballad of John and Yoko" at short notice.[5]

Lyrics[edit]

The original last verse of the song refers to: "John and Yoko, Timmy Leary, Rosemary, Tommy Smothers, Bobby Dylan, Tommy Cooper, Derek Taylor, Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, and Hare Krishna". In the performance of "Give Peace a Chance" included on the Live Peace in Toronto 1969 album, Lennon openly stated that he could not remember all of the words and improvised with the names of the band members sharing the stage with him and anything that came to mind: "John and Yoko, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Penny Lane, Roosevelt, Nixon, Tommy Jones and Tommy Cooper, and somebody." The third verse contains a reference to masturbation, but Lennon changed this to "mastication" on the official lyric sheet. He later admitted this was a "cop out" but wanted to avoid unnecessary controversy.[6]

Release and aftermath[edit]

"Give Peace a Chance", backed with Ono's "Remember Love" as the B-side, was released on 4 July 1969 in the UK,[nb 1] and a few days later on 7 July 1969 in the US.[nb 2][7] The song reached number 2 in the UK Singles Chart,[8] and number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.[9]

The song quickly became the anthem of the anti Vietnam-war and counterculture movements,[10] and was sung by half a million demonstrators in Washington, D.C. at the Vietnam Moratorium Day, on 15 November 1969.[11] They were led by the renowned folk singer Pete Seeger, who interspersed phrases like, "Are you listening, Nixon?" and "Are you listening, Agnew?", between the choruses of protesters singing, "All we are saying ... is give peace a chance".[12]

The British group Yes also paid tribute to Lennon's words on their 1971 release The Yes Album, in "Your Move".[13]

After being issued as a single, it appeared on album in a truncated form for the singles compilation Shaved Fish in 1975. The track's first full-length album appearance was on the compilation The John Lennon Collection. Although technically the first "solo" single released by a member of The Beatles while the band was still intact, the artist credit was to the Plastic Ono Band, not John Lennon.[14] Shortly after the death of Lennon fans gathered outside the Dakota, they sang "Give Peace a Chance".[4] The single re-charted in January 1981, peaking at number 33.[7] The song is one of three Lennon solo songs, along with "Instant Karma!" and "Imagine", in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Personnel[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1969) Peak
position
Austria Ö3 Austria Top 40[15] 2
Belgium Ultratop[16] 2
Canadian RPM Singles Chart[17] 8
German Media Control Charts[18] 4
Netherlands MegaCharts[19] 1
Norway VG-lista[20] 11
Switzerland Music Charts[21] 4
UK Singles Chart[8] 2
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 14
US Cashbox Top 100[22] 11

Yoko Ono version[edit]

"Give Peace a Chance"

TW50070
Single by Yoko Ono
Released 1 June 2008 (TW50066)
1 July 2008 (TW50069)
18 February 2009 (Int'l Remixes)
Format Digital download
Genre Electronica, Remix
Label Mind Train, Twisted Records
Yoko Ono singles chronology
"No, No, No"
(2007)
"Give Peace a Chance"
(2008)
"I'm Not Getting Enough"
(2009)

On 1 June 2008, the 39th anniversary of the song's recording, the first of three digital-only (and thus environmentally friendly) singles was released through Twisted Records exclusively on Beatport with remixes featuring a newly recorded vocal by Yoko Ono.[23] It reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart on 16 August 2008. These are not the first remixes Ono has done of this song: in 2005, she did a new version recalling the events of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on Truth; and one of the first remixes with the lyrics used in this mix was released on the Open Your Box remix album. The last instalment was released 18 February 2009, Yoko's birthday.

Track listings[edit]

Mindtrain/Twisted TW50066 (Released 1 June 2008)
  1. Dave Aude Club Mix (8:26)
  2. Dave Aude Dub (8:26)
  3. Johnny Vicious Warehouse Dub (8:23)
  4. Mike Cruz Dub (8:40)
  5. Tommie Sunshine Vocal Mix (6:41)
  6. Morel’s Pink Noise Vocal Mix (6:42)
  7. Morel’s Pink Noise Dub (7:09)
  8. Double B Full Vocal Mix (6:57)
Mindtrain/Twisted TW50069 (Released 1 July 2008)
  1. Phunk Investigation Mix (7:45)
  2. Eric Kupper Vocal Mix (8:50)
  3. Mike Cruz Extended Vocal Mix (10:25)
  4. DJ Dan Dub (8:53)
  5. Tommie Sunshine Give Peace a Dub (6:40)
  6. Morel’s Canister Dub (7:23)
  7. Mike Cruz Vocal Edit Mix (8:40)
Mindtrain/Twisted [TW50070] (Released 18 February 2009) [The International Remixes]
  1. Blow-Up Popism Mix (5:00)
  2. Blow-Up Electrono Mix (6:44)
  3. Kimbar Vocal Mix (8:11)
  4. Kimbar Dub Mix (6:54)
  5. Tszpun Remix (8:17)
  6. Tszpun Dub Mix (8:11)
  7. Alex Santer Peaceful Mix (6:11)
  8. DJ Meme Club Mix (9:54)
  9. Findo Gask Time for Action Dub (5:56)
  10. CSS Mix (4:12)
  11. Richard Fearless Reach Out Mix (7:05)
  12. Karsh Kale Voices of the Tribal Massive Mix (5:55)
Preceded by
"Give It 2 Me" by Madonna
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
16 August 2008
Succeeded by
"I Decided" by Solange

Covers[edit]

Lennon's fellow ex-Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have each incorporated the song into their live performances; Starr and his band often perform the song as an encore after "With a Little Help from My Friends", while McCartney has performed a medley of the song, combined with "A Day in the Life", on his 2009 live album Good Evening New York City, for most of his Up and Coming Tour, on Saturday Night Live 11 December 2010,[24] and in 2011 during the US leg of his On the Run Tour.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ UK Apple APPLE 13[7]
  2. ^ US Apple APPLE 1809[7]
Citations
  1. ^ a b Norman, Philip (2008). John Lennon: The Life. Doubleday Canada. p. 608. ISBN 978-0-385-66100-3. 
  2. ^ a b Noyer, Paul Du (2010). "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band". John Lennon: The Stories Behind Every Song 1970–1980 (Rev. ed.). London: Carlton Books Ltd. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-84732-665-2. 
  3. ^ Year One
  4. ^ a b Noyer, Paul Du (2010). "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band". John Lennon: The Stories Behind Every Song 1970–1980 (Rev. ed.). London: Carlton Books Ltd. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-84732-665-2. 
  5. ^ MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head (2nd revised ed.). Pimlico. p. 358. ISBN 978-1-84413-828-9. 
  6. ^ The Beatles (2000). The Beatles Anthology. Chronicle Books. p. 334. ISBN 0-8118-2684-8. 
  7. ^ a b c d Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0. 
  8. ^ a b "JOHN LENNON | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  9. ^ a b John Lennon. "John Lennon - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Perone, James E. (2001). Songs of the Vietnam Conflict. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 57–58. ISBN 978-0-313-31528-2. 
  11. ^ Wiener, Jon (January 12, 2010). "Nixon and the 1969 Vietnam Moratorium". The Nation. Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  12. ^ See, for example, this PBS documentary and this recording on YouTube.
  13. ^ Pemberton, Pat (9 December 2010). "Jon Anderson, Former Yes Frontman, Pays Tribute to John Lennon in California". Spinner. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  14. ^ Noyer, Paul Du (2010). "Shining On". John Lennon: The Stories Behind Every Song 1970–1980 (Rev. ed.). London: Carlton Books Ltd. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-84732-665-2. 
  15. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Plastic Ono Band - Give Peace A Chance". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "Plastic Ono Band - Give Peace A Chance". ultratop.be. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  17. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "charts.de". charts.de. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  19. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Discografie John Lennon". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  20. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Plastic Ono Band - Give Peace A Chance". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  21. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Plastic Ono Band - Give Peace A Chance". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  22. ^ Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. p. 326. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0. 
  23. ^ Press Release. Twisted Records Online. Retrieved 25 June 2008.
  24. ^ "Paul McCartney reveals track listing to live CD/DVD 'Good Evening New York City'". The Independent. 14 October 2009. 
  25. ^ U2gigs.com.