This song embodied the sense of renewal in Lennon and Yoko's professional and personal lives during the writing and recording of Double Fantasy. "It was kinda obvious what 'Starting Over' was about," said journalist David Sheff, who did the last major interview with Lennon, to Mojo. "He'd been untrusting of Yoko, she'd been untrusting of him, all that kind of stuff. But in that one song was this incredible optimism and joy."
This was released in the United States October 27, 1980, which was the same day Mark David Chapman bought the gun he would use to kill Lennon on December 8. "Starting Over," which came out in the UK on October 24, was Lennon's first release since 1975. The Double Fantasy album was issued on November 17.
Lennon wrote this while vacationing in Bermuda earlier in the year.
Despite being the first single in five years from one of the most famous musicians on the planet, this song took a while to catch on. In America, it entered the Hot 100 on November 1, 1980 at #38 and made a slow but steady climb up the chart. Here's the progression:
Nov. 8: #32
Nov. 15: #10
Nov. 22: #9
Nov. 29: #8
Dec. 6: #6
Dec. 13: #4
Dec. 20: #3
Dec. 27: #1
When Lennon was killed, fans quickly scooped up the single along with lots of other Lennon material, but it took a few weeks for the chart to reflect these sales. When it hit #1, it stayed there for five weeks.
This was recorded at The Power Station in New York City. Musicians included Tony Levin on bass, Earl Slick on guitar, and Andy Newmark on drums.
Double Fantasy was released on David Geffen's record label, DGC. Many labels were competing for the album, but Geffen impressed Lennon when he wrote directly to Yoko and agreed to release it without hearing it first. All of Lennon's previous albums were released on The Beatles' label, Apple.
John and Yoko were considering doing a tour when this was climbing the charts.
This was one of the last songs recorded for the album. Lennon was not sure he should record it, but his producer and session musicians convinced him it would be a hit. It became the first single from Double Fantasy.
The day this was released, Yoko Ono hired a skywriter to write "Happy Birthday" above New York.
Lennon said in his last Rolling Stone interview in 1980: "All through the taping of 'Starting Over,' I was calling what I was doing 'Elvis Orbison.' It's like Dylan doing Nashville Skyline, except I don't have any Nashville, being from Liverpool. So I go back to the records I know - Elvis and Roy Orbison and Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis."
The copy of Double Fantasy that Mark Chapman asked Lennon to autograph might be the most valuable record in the world. The record, which figured in the court case, not only has Lennon's autograph but also boasts Chapman's fingerprints on the cover. In 2003, the record was sold for £525,000 but its value has since rocketed.