Out the Blue
|"Out the Blue"|
|Song by John Lennon|
|from the album Mind Games|
|Released||16 November 1973|
|Mind Games track listing|
"Out the Blue" is a song written by John Lennon and originally released on his 1973 album Mind Games. The song is included on the 1990 boxset Lennon, the 2005 two disc compilation Working Class Hero: The Definitive Lennon and the 2010 album, Gimme Some Truth.
Lyrics and music
"Out the Blue" is one of several songs on Mind Games devoted to Yoko Ono. It was recorded at a time when Lennon and Ono were separated, and reflects Lennon's resulting self-doubt. It states Lennon's gratitude for Ono appearing in his life "out of the blue" and providing his "life's energy." According to authors Ken Bielen and Ben Urish, the theme of the song is "the awe of finding true love unexpectedly."
Music critic Johnny Rogan finds some of the metaphors "gruesome," for example "All my life's been a long, slow knife," and some of the similes "wacky," for example "Like a UFO you came to me and blew away life's misery." Pop historian Robert Rodriguez regards the UFO line as "idiosyncratic" as well. Andrew Grant Jackson, however, finds the UFO metaphor to be apt for Ono, since at the time Ono came into Lennon's life she was as surprising a love interest for him as anyone could be. Bielen and Urish praise the "long, slow knife" image one of Lennon's most poetic of emotional anguish. The title phrase has multiple meanings during the song; Ono came to him "out of the blue" and also cast "out the blue" of Lennon's melancholy.
"Out the Blue" moves through several musical genres, starting with a gentle, melancholy acoustic guitar and moving through gospel, country and music portions. The sound grows as the song progresses, while Lennon's vocal becomes more assured, going from its original restraint to an expression of "joyful contentment." After the initial acoustic guitar, the piano, pedal steel guitar, bass guitar and drums enter, and eventually a "heavenly choir" is included. Author John Blaney describes the song's piano motif as "majestic" and compares the bass guitar line to those of Lennon's ex-bandmate Paul McCartney. Rodriguez praises the way Lennon's vocal manages to "stay atop the waves" of sound, and project both gratitude and tenderness. Keith Spore of The Milwaukee Sentinel described it as having a "haunting minor key melody in the best Beatle tradition."
The backing instrumental part for the final released version was cut down from the original recording, eliminating the second break as well as all but the final coda of the reprise of the refrain. The full recorded instrumental, with a guide vocal, was released as part of The Lost Lennon Tapes and on bootleg albums.
Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine considers "Out the Blue" to be a "lovely ballad," while Blaney describes it as "an exquisite ballad." Blaney goes on to say that "it reveals more than a glimpse of Lennon's genius." Mandinger and Easter call it a "truly beautiful love song" and feel it deserves more attention than it has received, and could have made a good follow up single to "Mind Games." They also claim that it shows Lennon had not lost his ability to put "the simplest emotions across in the most affecting manner possible." Jackson considers it the best of Lennon's apology songs to Ono. He particularly praises the arrangement, in which he maintains interest by building up the instrumentation gradually. Urish and Bielen opine that it delivers " a more satisfying emotional impact than might be supposed." Lennon biographer John Borack calls it a "highlight" of Mind Games. Los Angeles Times music critic Robert Hilburn calls it "one of the unquestioned highlights" of Mind Games, calling it a "lovely song" and praising its "tender, effective lyrics." PopMatters regards it as Lennon's "only lighter waving 70s monster ballad," and believes that it should be included on Lennon's greatest hits compilation albums. Pop historian Robert Rodriguez regards it as one of the "best unsung John" Lennon songs, one of Lennon's "finest performances" and one of his best "standard-worthy ballad(s)."
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
- Something Different – backing vocals
- Erlewine, S.T. "Mind Games". Allmusic. Retrieved 18 December 2012.
- du Noyer, P. (1999). John Lennon: Whatever Gets You Through the Night. Thunder's Mouth Press. p. 77. ISBN 1560252103.
- Blaney, J. (2007). Lennon and McCartney: together alone : a critical discography of their solo work. Jawbone Press. pp. 82–83. ISBN 9781906002022.
- Jackson, A.G. (2012). Still the Greatest: The Essential Solo Beatles Songs. Scarecrow Press. pp. 105–106. ISBN 9780810882225.
- Rodriguez, R. (2010). Fab Four FAQ 2.0: The Beatles' Solo Years 1970–1980. Hal Leonard. pp. 348–350. ISBN 978-0-87930-968-8.
- Urish, B. & Bielen, K. (2007). The Words and Music of John Lennon. Praeger. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-275-99180-7.
- Rogan, J. (1997). The Complete Guide to the Music of John Lennon. Omnius Press. p. 82. ISBN 0711955999.
- Spore, K. (7 December 1973). "Beatles Reflected in Lennon Genius". The Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 25. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- Madinger, C. & Easter, M. (2000). Eight Arms to Hold You. 44.1 Productions. p. 89. ISBN 0-615-11724-4.
- Borack, J. (2010). John Lennon: Music, Memories, and Memorabilia. Krause Publications. ISBN 9781440216480.
- Hilburn, R. (24 December 1973). "New Albums Boost Ex-Beatles". The Evening News. p. 1B. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
- "John Lennon 101 – Day 4: The Lost Weekend (1972–1973)". PopMatters.com. Retrieved 7 January 2013.