It’s Alright (I See Rainbows)

Released November 29, 1982 

© Madeline Bocaro, 2020. No part of this site may be reproduced or re-blogged in whole or in part in any manner without permission of the copyright owner.

Two years after John Lennon’s death, things were far from alright. Yoko thought that nothing could be worse than the loss of John, but the worst was yet to come. Aside from trying to cope and heal in her own way, she had to protect her young son Sean from stalkers and death threats by hiding out in hotels in various cities and countries. This kept her away from the studio intermittently while she was recording It’s Alright, her sixth solo album.

 

Season Of Glass was released in June 1981, just six months after John’s death. It’s Alright (I See Rainbows) was Yoko’s second album since John’s passing.

My story about Season of Glass: Shattered

https://madelinex.com/2019/06/08/shattered-season-of-glass-yoko-ono/

‘It’s Alright’ was Yoko’s mantra. If she told herself that things were OK, they soon might be. She composed, produced and arranged all the songs. The album was released on vinyl on November 29, 1982 – just under two years after John was taken from her.

John appears as a friendly ghostly black and white image completing his family (who appear in color) on the back cover, with young Sean now grown considerably in the two years since his father’s passing. The transparent image of John standing with Yoko and Sean has ominously disappeared on the CD reissue.

“Well, I was trying not to make a statement. ‘It’s all right’, it’s more like a prayer to me.

…Also, the other thing is very strange things happened, when I was making this song, I see rainbows. And nobody knew that I was making a song, just the studio people. But somehow, lots of letters—because I get lots of letters these days, which is very nice, thank you, thank you, thank you—but anyway… these letters had rainbows in it… this summer while I was making a record, there was some sort of frightening sideshows going on in my life, where I felt totally panicked. So I thought to myself, I better change this. Turn it around. Change the channel. I started writing what I am thankful about.”

Yoko, High Times – May 1983

The first appearance on CD of some songs from the album was in 1992 on the Onobox set released by Rykodisc. The complete CD reissue of the album was released by Ryko in July 1997 using new remixes of all the songs. The remaining vinyl mixes are not on CD.

*Note: On the Ryko CD, Yoko’s vocals on the song ‘Wake Up’ are different from the vinyl version.

The album has a distinctive 1980s upbeat pop feel, yet it retains the warmth of traditional instruments and musicianship. However, the cheerful theme was a facade for Yoko’s actual state of mind and the trauma that she was suffering after losing John.

‘My Man’ is the opening song.  This has the feeling of a 1950s love song with a 1980s sensibility. It’s a deceivingly happy tune – as Yoko describes below;

“MY MAN was originally called MY PAPA because I referred to John as “Papa” when I spoke about him to my Japanese speaking friends, just as John started to sometimes call me “Mother” after Sean was born. John thought I should not call the song MY PAPA because there was already a song called that. “What about MY OLD MAN?” he said. That didn’t seem quite right. We laughed. I had kept the song on the backburner and changed it to MY MAN at the time of the recording. In a way, the It’s Alright time was much more difficult for me as a woman, as a person, than when I had made Season Of Glass. Life went on. I had to walk and talk normally, while I knew that somewhere inside me there was a clock that had stopped in ’80.”

-Yoko, Onobox liner notes, 1992

The video: https://youtu.be/vFVp1t_E7eg

 

The excessively multi-tracked ‘Never Say Goodbye’ has some great percussive effects and a spacey ambiance. It is a sweet tune about treasuring precious time together before it’s taken away. Yoko also tells of her unspeakable nightmares and wanting to be told that ‘It’s alright.’ A sample of John’s voice. screaming ‘Yoko!!!!’ (from Wedding Album) is included.

“Finally, I went to the studio despite the warning. I couldn’t hide all my life. I used 81 Tracks on NEVER SAY GOODBYE. It was before mixing boards were computerized, and the engineer and I had to work on the board like crazy to remix it. It reminded me of the time in Abbey Road Studio in ’69 when John and I had to hold the tape across the room while we made the sounds of the trains passing each other for the Yoko Ono Plastic Band album, creating 90s sounds with primitive equipment.”

-Yoko, Onobox liner notes. 1992

 

‘Spec of Dust’ is beautifully ethereal and spacey, making use of Sean’s toy ray gun. It’s only natural that the universe is a third partner in Yoko’s relationship with John. She sings of her undying love for him.

In the middle of the night
I’m lying in your bed
Thinking of you and me in the universe

Stars are moving like the night we met
The earth is turning like the time we said
In my mind I’m searching for you, billion miles away

Why do i miss you so if you’re just a spec of dust
Floating endlessly amongst the billion stars
Knowing that one day we may float apart
Meeting each other in memories

Why do I love you so if you’re just a spec of dust
Floating endlessly amongst the trillion stars
Knowing that one day we may float apart
Meeting each other in universe

“The songs from It’s Alright were an attempt to do new sounds. I used shotguns for the backbeat. I brought Sean’s toy raygun to the studio to use it as a rhythm track. I was expecting the usual sneer I had gotten from the musicians and engineers whenever I had tried to do anything that was out of the ordinary. Surprisingly, no one was upset this time. It was ’82 and it seemed as though I was finally in sync with the world. I love it. A musician brought a toy plastic tube to make a wind sound for LET THE TEARS DRY. Sean was happy playing with it in the studio.”

– Yoko, Onobox liner notes, 1992

 

‘Loneliness’ was written in 1974 for Yoko’s planned album A Story which did not materialize until Rykodisc released the album in 1997.  The 1974 version of ‘Loneliness’ (recorded with the Plastic Ono Super Band) first appeared on CD in 1992 on the Onobox set – on the disc containing songs from that time period titled A Story.

The song was re-recorded in 1982 for It’s Alright… Amongst all of Yoko’s lyrics which usually reflect positivity, these are the most desperate. She has found positive ways to cope with multiple tragedies in her life, but loneliness is unsurmountable.

“I just think loneliness is the thing that most affected me. I just can’t stand it. And I want to communicate, mainly I think, because I never did enough of it… John & Yoko are two people tuning into each other’s lonely existence.”

-To Caroline Coon, 1974

There are many things in time and space I can endure
In fact, I can endure most anything
But loneliness, (loneliness) loneliness, (loneliness)
Is something I can’t endure

Loneliness 12” version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vj88RGWxzuY

Loneliness 1974 – A Story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajCUVjkMjjg

 

Despite a dire warning about the future,Tomorrow May Never Comeis a joyful, upbeat tune about living in the present and cherishing the moment.

Yesterday may scar us forever
Today may never be found
Tomorrow may never come

All we have is you and I
Feeling the wind and the sky
Reach me, touch me, hold me
Hold me while my lips are still warm

 

‘It’s Alright (I See Rainbows)’Yoko felt that if she repeated these positive words as a mantra or a prayer, that they would become true. She also repeats her original mantra, ‘Yes, yes, yes…’

 I guess I’m not the only one
There many of us in history
So when you’re feeling down
Hold your heart and say, it’s gonna be alright 

It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
I know it’s gonna be alright
It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
I know it’s gonna be alright
 

“…Meanwhile, there was a bomb scare and Sean and I were warned to move into a hotel and to stay away from the studio. I wrote the song IT’S ALRIGHT while we were cooped up in the hotel room- as a prayer.”

– Yoko, Onobox liner notes, 1992

 

Watch: ‘It’s Alright (I See Rainbows)’ video: Starring Sean Lennon

https://youtu.be/i5-7AF6Iyy8

 

 ‘Wake Up’ is a sweet reggae tune, beginning with kisses and encouragement. Yoko is singing this to her young fatherless son Sean, and also to the world. She understands our fear but tries to soothe us with a smile, some laughter and more kisses. We need this song today more than ever.

Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iba7B3OVMD0

The opening and closing gunshots of ‘Let the Tears Dry’ are quite disturbing. However, the song morphs into a celebratory gospel tune. It has the somber feeling of the majestically melancholy classic hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. It also has a ceremonial ambiance – a sombre 21-gun military salute (for John, a fallen soldier). The musicians contributed to the ingenuity of sound – one of them brought a plastic wind tube to achieve the whistling atmospheric vibration throughout the song.

Let the tears dry
And bring back your smile
Hear the mountains cry

The tears will grow
Where you laid your tears
Rivers will flow, rivers will flow
Flow where you rest your fears

A soul has fled when the blood was shed
A soul that cared for life so deeply
The memory will grow in us
And make you and I a family

 

The beautiful and serene ‘Dream Love’ opens with a beach scene –  bird calls along the shore, the waves gently flowing. The power of dreams is still a constant in Yoko’s message. It rings true in her beautiful and sincere vocal. We were all still reeling from the loss of John at this time. This song was a big comfort to us all. It takes us floating away, like John’s ‘#9 Dream’.

Dream power

Dream reality

Dream together

‘I See Rainbows’ is another song of hope for a beautiful future. More unique sounds fill this track, on which Yoko looks past the horrors of present reality – reiterating her long resounding mantra; ‘Think positive.’

I don’t wanna be part of terrorists
I don’t wanna be one of survivalists
This is our world and it’s beautiful
I wanna survive, survive
Survive, survive together

I see rainbows, I see tomorrow
I see us sending rainbow love
I see rainbows, I see tomorrow
I see us sending rainbow thoughts

 

Outtake: 

‘Forgive Me My Love was first recorded during the Double Fantasy sessions. The first appearance of this song was on the Onobox collection (Rykodisc 1992).  This is an outtake from Yoko’s album a decade prior,  It’s Alright (I See Rainbows) 1982.  Yoko had written this for a musical that she and John were planning.

The song was reworked by Death Cab for Cutie on the collaboration and remix album of Yoko’s songs, Yes, I’m A Witch Too in 2016.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ocu1lnDvuoQ

 

The 1997 CD release of ‘It’s Alright (I See Rainbows)’ includes Yoko’s demo for Beautiful Boy(s) which appeared on Double Fantasy as a finished piece in 1980. It also includes a remix of ‘You’re The One’ from ‘Milk and Honey’ (1984). This version begins with what later became the opening musical phrase of the song ‘It’s Time for Action’ on her 2001 album Blueprint For A Sunrise.

Photos: Bob Gruen

HARRY NILSSON COVERS…

Harry Nilsson recorded several of Yoko’s songs from the album, including ‘Never Say Goodbye’, ‘Loneliness’  ‘Dream Love’, and ‘Let the Tears Dry’ for the Various Artists Every Man Has a Woman album. The album, released in 1984 was a tribute consisting of various artists covering Yoko’s songs for her 50th birthday.

Trio covered ‘ Wake Up’ and Sean Lennon covered ‘It’s Alright’.

Here are four songs that did not make it.

Listen, the Snow is Falling 0:00 Toyboat 4:39 Let the Tears Dry 9:01 Smile 14:24

https://youtu.be/XmWQV8Ypa7I

Harry Nilsson – ‘Loneliness’ video

https://youtu.be/9HcB8mbzi7g

 

Nilsson Sings Ono:

Internet Archive
https://archive.org/details/NilssonSingsOno

The entire Nilsson Sings Ono album is online with outtakes.
https://archive.org/details/NilssonSingsOno

 

It’s Alright (I See Rainbows)

My Man / Never Say Goodbye / Spec of Dust

Loneliness / Tomorrow May Never Come

It’s Alright/Wake Up

Let the Tears Dry / Dream Love

I See Rainbows

Yoko Ono – vocals

Paul Griffin – keyboards, synthesizer, piano

Pete Cannarozzi – synthesizer

Gordon Grody, Kurt Yahjihan, Carlos Alomar – background vocals

Elliott Randall, Steve Love,Hugh McCracken, John Lennon, John Tropea – guitar

Neal Jason, Tony Levin, Wayne Pedziwiatr – bass guitar

Yogi Horton, Allan Schwartzberg – drums

Rubens Bassini, David A. Freedman, Sammy Figueroa, Roger Squitero – percussion

Badal Roy – tabla

Howard Johnson – baritone saxophone, tuba

 

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One thought on “It’s Alright (I See Rainbows)

  1. I like the album, I finally got it on vinyl. Got the Ono box and knew some tunes but I am glad this is the original mix and concept.

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