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We All Shine On - John Lennon's Instant Karma

Released in the U.S. on this day in 1970, John Lennon's song "Instant Karma" has the distinction of having the quickest recording and releasing turn around in music history. A total of 10 days from the first session until the song hit the record stores in the U.K.

The U.S. Release

But more than that Instant Karma was a song that came from John's soul. It was during his Peace march period in 1969 that John first started to have some ideas for this song. A song with no clearly defined lyric. Then on a trip to Denmark to visit and become acquainted with Yoko Ono's ex husband artist Tony Cox, a conversation began between all of them that resulted in John developing the concept of Instant Karma. Two days after returning to the U.K. on January 27, 1970 Lennon woke up that morning, sat at his piano and began creating the melody and lyrics for his new song. It is rumored that Lennon completed writing the song in one hour.

At the time of the recording John was still officially a member of The Beatles, but privately he made his intentions clear that he was no longer a member in the band. This made John feel the need to rush his new song into the recording studio. Under the guise of "The Plastic Ono Band" the session began on the same evening of January 27 at Abbey Road Studios with the band made up of musicians George Harrison, Klaus Voormann, Alan White and Billy Preston. Produced by Phil Spector in which he employed his "Wall of Sound" technique from the early 1960's, the Instant Karma session also seemed to revive Spector's career after his self imposed retirement in 1966.

"Instant Karma!" arriving in UK record stores just ten days after it was written which prompted Lennon say to tell the press that he "wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch, and we're putting it out for dinner". In the U.K. the song was credited to the Plastic Ono Band but when it hit U.S. record stores the A-side was retitled "Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)" and credited to John Ono Lennon. It is said that Spector remixed "Instant Karma!" for the US market without Lennon's knowledge.

The song hit number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the rest of course is music history. Part of a long line of peace plea songs Instant Karma is Lennon's most upfront and power filled punch in your face track that asks more questions about life, love and humanity. But the lyrics continue to express John's seemingly eternal optimism. "We All Shine On" is John's message to us that we can be better. We can make a difference and we are all in this together. And it's these words that make this writer miss him more and more.

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