Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)
|"Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)"|
|Song by John Lennon|
|from the album Mind Games|
|Released||16 November 1973|
|Mind Games track listing|
Lyrics & music
The song's lyrics have Lennon apologising to wife Yoko Ono. Aisumasen is a slightly corrupted version of the formal term ai sumimasen, which means "I'm sorry" in Japanese. The line "It's hard enough I know to feel your own pain" reprises a theme found in a line from Lennon's earlier song "I Found Out." After the lyrics run out, a guitar solo is played. Authors Ken Bielen and Ben Urish interpret this solo as a continuation of the plea for forgiveness. The solo ends abruptly, which Bielen and Urish suggest that this abrupt ending symbolically means that Lennon's plea has been rejected. And in fact, by the time "Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)" was released, Lennon and Ono had separated. Author John Blaney agrees that the song implies that Lennon will not get the forgiveness and comfort he needs from Ono, and further states that the song reveals just how much he needed her.
"Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)" has some similarities to the Beatles song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," which was also written by Lennon and inspired by Ono. Bielen and Urish claim that "Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)" has a similar rhythm to "a slowed down, semi-acoustic version" of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" also ends abruptly.
Lennon had been working on the melody to "Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)" since at least 1971. A demo of the song was recorded during sessions for Lennon's Imagine. Originally, the melody belonged to song whose working title was "Call My Name.", dating from a demo recorded in December 1971. In "Call My Name," Lennon was offering to comfort someone, but in the final version of the song Lennon is the one asking for forgiveness. In "Call My Name," the melodic line that became "Aisumasen" was sung to the words "I'll ease your pain."
Music critic Johnny Rogan finds the song to be "occasionally powerful" and feels it "brings some depth" to the Mind Games album. Keith Spore of The Milwaukee Sentinel called the song "a lovely ballad" which serves as a reminder of Lennon's past brilliance. Bielen and Urish consider it to be one of Mind Games' strongest songs, although they think it may have been even stronger had Lennon stuck to his original lyrical impulses of "Call My Name." PopMatters feels that the song starts out well, "like classic Lennon blues," but that Lennon "never finds the conviction to carry the song across the finish line."
The musicians who performed on the original recording were as follows:
- John Lennon – vocals, acoustic guitar
- David Spinozza – guitar
- Pete Kleinow – pedal steel guitar
- Ken Ascher – keyboards
- Gordon Edwards – bass guitar
- Jim Keltner – drums
- "John Lennon: Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)". The Beatles Bible. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
- Rogan, J. (1997). The Complete Guide to the Music of John Lennon. Omnius Press. p. 79. ISBN 0-7119-5599-9.
- du Noyer, P. (1999). John Lennon: Whatever Gets You Through the Night. Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 74. ISBN 1-56025-210-3.
- Urish, B. & Bielen, K. (2007). The Words and Music of John Lennon. Praeger. pp. 49, 116. ISBN 978-0-275-99180-7.
- Blaney, J. (2007). Lennon and McCartney: together alone : a critical discography of their solo work. Jawbone Press. pp. 81, 83. ISBN 978-1-906002-02-2.
- Miles, Barry; Badman, Keith, eds. (2001). The Beatles Diary After the Break-Up: 1970–2001 (reprint ed.). London: Music Sales Group. ISBN 978-0-7119-8307-6.
- Calkin, Graham. "Mind Games". Jpgr.co.uk. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
- Spore, K. (7 December 1973). "Beatles Reflected in Lennon Genius". The Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 25. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- "John Lennon 101 – Day 4: The Lost Weekend (1972–1973)". PopMatters.com. Retrieved 7 January 2013.