John Lennon Was ‘Too Scared’ to Attend a Gospel Church Service But He Put Gospel Singers on a Song Anyway

Any good classic rock star knew how to go against type from time to time. One of the songs on John Lennon’s last album included a gospel choir. In an interview about the song, John discussed why Yoko Ono cried during the session for it and what he thought about religion at the time.

John Lennon put a song sung by Yoko Ono featuring gospel choirs on his final album

John’s album Double Fantasy includes a sung by Yoko Ono called “Hard Times Are Over.” That track features a performance by two gospel choirs : the Benny Cummings Singers and the Kings Temple Choir. During a 1980 interview with Rolling Stone, John revealed how “Hard Times Are Over” came together in the studio.

“At the end of the session, they thanked God, they thanked our co-producer; Jack Douglas, they thanked us for bringing them the work, and we thanked them,” he recalled. “And it was the nearest I’ve ever been to a gospel church service — Phil Spector used to tell me about them — and I always wanted to go and experience it, but I was too scared to go. And that was the nearest I’ve ever been, and it was just beautiful.”

The ‘Imagine’ singer explained why the song made Yoko Ono cry

John said he felt pressure during that session. “It was a great working day, with the pressure on — get in the studio and get out — and all the children were there, kids and food and cookies and singing and ‘Praise the Lord,’” he said. “It was glorious. Putting the gospel choir on that song was a highlight of the session.”

John revealed Yoko had a strong reaction to the gospel singers. “Just before the take, they suddenly all took each other’s hands, and Yoko was really crying, and I was emotional because it’s right up our alley,” he said. John said he and Yoko were interested in spirituality whether it was Christianity or Buddhism or any other religion.

John Lennon wanted his fans to look to Jesus Christ as an example

It might surprise some fans to know John would take an interest in gospel music. After all, he famously declared The Beatles “more popular than Jesus” and attacked religion in his solo songs “God” and “Imagine.” However, by the end of his life, he seemed to soften on both religion in general and Christianity in particular.

The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono includes an interview from 1980. In it, John critiqued the Christian tendency to proselytize. However, he still encourages fans to read the words of Jesus Christ, Buddha, and other great thinkers.

John dismissed the notion that he was opposed to against religion or against Christ. In his opinion, he was a very religious person. He simply viewed magic as science that was unknown or unexplored.

John offered different appraisals of religion over the course of his life however, he still knew that gospel vocals could be absolutely amazing.

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