John Lennon, “Out the Blue” from Mind Games (1973): One Track Mind

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Released on November 2, 1973, Mind Games opened the door for John Lennon’s so-called Lost Weekend, when the former Beatles star separated from wife Yoko Ono – and the album, on balance, sounds just as unfocused, just as in flux, as his private life had become.

The only constant, in fact, seems to be Ono. She simply looms over Mind Games, and not just because of the Lennon-designed cover image. There’s also “Out the Blue,” a tale of once-devoted lovers, now apart, who somehow still seem destined to return to one another. It’s not hard to see how being away from her would eventually send him into a spiral, so deep was their connection. This song, as much as any other, reveals the depth of that loss. It also hints at the sweet reconcilation to come.

John Lennon is joined at first, in a brilliantly stripped-down format that recalls his work on Plastic Ono Band, by guitarist David Spinozza, pedal steel player “Sneaky Pete” Kleinow and drummer Jim Keltner. Later, he capitulates to polyester-era conventions by adding a group of churchy girl backup singers, but even that can’t snap the spell of this song’s star-crossed reverie.

Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between on Mind Games. For every uptempo rocker like “Meat City” and “Tight A$,” there was a sucker-punch throwaway like “Intuition” and “Only People.” The album could be rightly praised for avoiding the strident political missteps of its predecessor Sometime in New York City, but remains too aimless and, at times, utterly devoid of energy — even with the Top 20 hit title song as a lead in.

A month after Mind Games was released, John Lennon left for L.A. with girlfriend May Pang — and he would remain there, drinking himself almost out of a career, through the summer of 1974. Sentiments like those in “Out the Blue” would one day bring Lennon and Yoko Ono together once more, but it would take a while.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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