Watching the Wheels
|"Watching the Wheels"|
|Single by John Lennon|
|from the album Double Fantasy|
|B-side||"Yes, I'm Your Angel" (Yoko Ono) (UK)
"Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" (US)
|Released||13 March 1981 (US)
27 March 1981 (UK)
|Producer(s)||John Lennon, Yoko Ono & Jack Douglas|
|John Lennon singles chronology|
"Watching the Wheels" is a single by John Lennon released posthumously in 1981 after his murder. The B-side features Yoko Ono's "Yes, I'm Your Angel." It was the third and final single released from Lennon and Ono's album Double Fantasy, and reached number 10 and number 7 in the US on the Billboard Hot 100 and Cashbox Top 100, respectively. It also peaked at number 30 in the UK.
Writing and recording
In "Watching the Wheels" Lennon addresses those who were confounded by his "househusband" years, 1975–1980. During this period, he "retired" from the music industry to concentrate on raising his son Sean with Ono. The acoustic demo of "Watching the Wheels" is featured in the ending credits to the 2009 film Funny People. The song features a hammered dulcimer accompanying the lead piano.
The photograph on the cover was taken by Paul Goresh, a fan of Lennon who also took the infamous photo of Lennon signing a copy of Double Fantasy for his killer, Mark David Chapman. Both photos were taken at the same place, in front of the Dakota building, which was the site of his 1980 shooting. Later, Chapman was recorded in police custody reciting the line "People say I'm crazy" from the song. This clip was used by the band EMF for the track "Lies" on their 1991 album Schubert Dip, though immediate protests from Ono prompted the sample's removal on subsequent pressings.
- John Lennon - vocals, keyboards
- Earl Slick, Hugh McCracken - lead guitar
- Tony Levin - bass
- George Small - keyboards
- Michelle Simpson, Cassandra Wooten, Cheryl Mason Jacks, Eric Troyer - backing vocals
- Andy Newmark - drums
- Matthew Cunningham - hammer dulcimer
- Arthur Jenkins - percussion
The song has been covered by Gwen Guthrie (1992), The Samples (1997), Matisyahu for the benefit album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur (2007), and Charly García under the name "Mirando las ruedas" for his album Kill Gil (2010). Patrick Wolf re-arranged the song for a performance at Yoko Ono's Meltdown Festival at the Southbank Centre.