Yoko Songs: Death of Samantha
By Madeline Bocaro ©
Released February 26, 1973 (USA) / May 4th (UK)
with the B-side ‘Yang Yang’.
(From the album Approximately Infinite Universe)
The beautifully poignant and prescient ‘Death of Samantha’ was written about what was probably John’s first infidelity in November 1972. (An unused photo by Bob Gruen for the AIU album jacket sessions shows John begging for forgiveness at Yoko’s feet.) …But in December 1980, Yoko realized that her lyrics eerily foreshadowed and accurately described the snowy day of John’s vigil in New York City…
John’s vigil consisted of a long silence, during which it had started snowing. New York’s Soho Weekly News, under the headline, “John and Yoko Piece” stated, “It wasn’t a Lennon vigil, it was an Ono artwork.”
A friend lent me shades
so I could hide my eyes that day
Was a snowy day
the shades have seen a lot of things I didn’t want to know myselfWas like an accident, part of growing up
people tell me
But something inside me, something inside me died that day
The A-side was a 3:46 edit, which was 6:22 on the LP.
“John came back in from the back room, and said I don’t want to hear this. It’s too painful. So we stopped. But the song went on the album. He didn’t want to mess with it. After he passed away, many fans wrote to me saying “Yoko, read this, you were writing about the vigil!” It was eerie. I was writing the song in 1972 about a vigil that actually happened in 1980!” – Yoko
On the B-Side, ‘Yang Yang’, Yoko used a chord progression that was prohibited by the Church in the Middle Ages, as these were believed to be the Devil’s chords.
Watch Yoko perform ‘Death of Samantha’ live with the Elephant’s Memory Band on the TV show Flipside.
‘Death of Samantha’
I had this vision that all these people, sort of gray people all sort of standing around in sorrow like this, you know – and just realized that was the vigil you know, snowy day and all these people just standing around. And that’s a song I wrote about 12 years ago. So it’s just incredible you know, I don’t know what’s happening really because all these visions that I had probably was about the future. Who knows. At the time I didn’t know- and when I go back to all my songs, all the songs are almost,…at the time that I wrote, I didn’t know and it was almost like I’m talking about my future – so It’s a bit scary in that sense.
– Yoko, ina France interview 1981
Photo by Bob Gruen: