Paul McCartney just had his first number one record since 1982, with Egypt Station, so of course his friend-turned-rival-turned-friend John Lennon has to release some music, too. Lennon’s classic 1971 album Imagine is getting a massive “Ultimate” reissue on October 5, boasting never-before-released versions of the 10 songs and a pile of other oddities
There will also be never-before-seen footage, some of which has been released online. One example, reports Rolling Stone, is a studio session on “How Do You Sleep?”, the third track on Side B and a relatively early example of a “diss track.” Who was Lennon dissing? Paul McCartney, of course.
Lennon was convinced his former songwriting partner’s 1970 album Ram, which McCartney credited to himself and his then-wife Linda, featured disses aimed at him and the other Beatles, notably in the songs “Dear Boy” and “Too Many People.” McCartney later confirmed he was indeed poking a little fun at John and Yoko Ono.
“How Do You Sleep?” was Lennon’s counter-attack, and it’s not sneaky and subtle like McCartney’s songs. It’s a full-blown siege.
So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise
You better see right through that mother’s eyes
Those freaks was right when they said you was dead
The one mistake you made was in your head
The nastiest blow comes towards the end: “The sound you make is Muzak to my ears.”
To twist the knife a little more, Lennon recorded the song with fellow ex-Beatle Harrison, who had only the previous year released his own solo album All Things Must Pass.