Watching The Wheels

Album: Double Fantasy (1980)
Charted: 30 10

Songfacts®:

  • John Lennon wrote this ode to inactivity to explain what he had been up to in the last six years. Until Double Fantasy, his last album was Walls And Bridges, which was released in 1974. He was no longer interested in fame, and dedicated himself to family: his wife Yoko and young son Sean (John became the world's most famous househusband, baking bread and feeding Sean).

    The song makes a statement that taking it easy and spending time with loved ones is anything but crazy. Working way too hard in an attempt to be a productive as possible, on the other hand, can be quite unfulfilling in the end.
  • The mindset Lennon describes in this song is a stark contrast to his 1973-'74 self, when he embarked on his "lost weekend," leaving Yoko and engaging in self-destructive behavior. He returned to Yoko in 1975, sinking into domestic life.
  • Explaining the message of this song after Lennon's death, Yoko said: "Let's have that inner space to dream, the dream power."

Comments: 37

  • Jon from Telford, EnglandOne of my favourites as well. If you can, I recommend listening to the home recordings of this, there's about 20 tracks of John gradually developing the tune and lyrics, utterly brilliant and mesmerising, and also heart breaking.
  • Ken from Axton, VaI feel the song represents a time that John discovered the true meaning of what life is about. This song has been important to me due to having suffered a chronic illness early on. I discovered not what I'm unable to do, but the lasting joy of having valuable time with my beautiful wife that otherwise would have been lost to the false idea of chasing goals set into play by insecure and meaningless expectations. Life is not trying to get what one doesn't have, but Living every day enjoying what one does have.
  • Gary from Cardiff, United KingdomThis song is definitive. It is his epitaph. It is almost a premonition. When released it was a comment on the five years away from record releases, but what echoes through time is the plaintive cries of "I just had to let it go. I just had to let it go... I just HAD TO let it go." It was like he was surrendering his soul here to go to a better place. He did not want to go. He HAD TO. Time was up. His work was over his life was done. I love his vocals in this song. His melancholy his laconic tempo "I'm just sitting here doing time" - "I tell them there's no problem only solutions", "I just had to let it go." He obviously needed that break from the music industry. John Lennon was only a man, but in my eyes he may have been a prophet. He would be the FIRST to say he was not.
  • Bg from La, PhilippinesJust another great song from the great John Lennon.
  • Bille from Nice, FranceThe beautiful and sweet thing about this song is that the best part, and the climax, is to be found in the line "I just had to let it go...". I agree with the traditional interpretation of the song - John had changed his life, had become mature, he had chosen his son Sean (and forgot all about Julian by the way!) instead of the music industry etc. BUT, with the melody line "I just had to let it go..." John looks back with a smile and regret, with happiness and sorrow - he signs the song with this particular melody line accompanying just these 7 words "I just had to let it go". In my view he states (maybe unconsciously) that musically speaking he had topped in the past and could not go or get back to that top why he had to let it go. The melody all through the song is excellent, but the few notes accompanying "I just had to let it go" are magic, Beatles revival for a few seconds...reminds me of Paul's "...and in the end...".
  • Mecid from Baku, AzerbaijanThe greatest Musician in modern music history and one of his legendary songs. Rest in peace John Lennon
  • Britt from Boston, MaI think John wanted to be laid back and carefree. I would too after working my ass off for over 10 years with the Beatles. It was time for him to relax and take life as it came. So many people think that John was really weird, but I think he is really down to earth and normal. He was more than a genius. Him and McCartney are my favorite songwriters, and Robert Plant. Purely amazing vocals.
  • Breanna from Henderson, NvThis is my absolute favorite John Lennon song! It so discribes me and I love the melody. Brillant song writting by one of the best writters of all time.
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaGreat song. I wish John was alive still and playing this song live in concert..
  • Barry from New York, NcDOUBLE FANTASY is the ultimate midtown New York City album!! It was recorded in NYC. John was inspired by his current life in NYC. And the back cover depicts him and Yoko outside the Dakota which overlooks Central Park. John was born in Liverpool England, but was a New Yorker through and through.
  • Julia from Richland, WaWatching The Wheels describes me so well, as do just about all of the Lennon songs... It's kind of weird... LOVE the song too!!! =)
  • Alfonso from Toluca, MexicoLife can be that easy if you want. Just enjoying the present, living the love into ourselves. John was really a genius.
  • Scott from Kings Park, NyHe really lets you know how he's feeling...just wants to be a regular guy. It's a shame that his "simple" life also left him vulnerable to what happened to him.
  • Madison from Norway, MeWasn't I reading something that Phil Spector took Lennon's original cuts from R&R and ran off with them? Oh, that Phil....
  • Ken from Louisville, KyMay Pang claims in her book that John wrote the tune when they were together in the mid-70's. It had the working title of "Tennessee". She said John told her he was going to write lyrics about author Tennessee Williams later.
  • Lou from Scranton, PaUm..."Rock 'n Roll" was released in 1975.
  • Krissy from Boston, MaIt has been said many times that he used just like to sit in the trees and watch people. Just sit for hours watching people walk by.
  • Krissy from Boston, MaThis is one of John's best. I think he wrote it because he didn't like the fame and people gushing over him. He didn't want any of the attenion. He just wanted to relax and take it easy.
  • George from Athens, GreeceDear Fyodor, it's really a laugh if you believe that Lennon forsakes productivity, one of the most productive musicians in pop & rock history ever !! I don't think that the millions you mention fell from the sky into Lennon's pocket. This charming man offered a lot to the world not only with his music but also with his try to change it and probably paid the price, even if he could be quiet and spend his millions you mentioned
  • Jonathan from Bishop, EnglandIs this by any chance a reaction to Let Me Roll It by Paul McCartney? Great song. Lennon is a legend!
  • Nathan from Willow Spring, NcLennon was just a man and he didnt need fame to live. He had a life and he wanted people to get that mesage: that he wanted to be able to see his kids and talk to his wife, and not be in the view of a camera all the time.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoRock and Roll is pretty mediocre. I have it and the avid Lennon collector would probably want it. If you compare it to the cover versions John sang lead on in the early Beatles period though, you will be disappointed and wonder how great they might have been if recorded back in 63, 64, or 65. It seemed to me that John lost his rock and roll voice sometime in 68 or 69. I'm not sure he had any vocals like the early Beatles days after Hey Bulldog in 1968.
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoOf course, it's easy to forsake hard work and productivity (while proclaiming beatific platitudes, to boot) when you've already made your millions (as well as your mark on the world!). Most of us don't exactly have that option. That said, I sure don't blame Lennon for being that way or expressing it. The chorus of complaints aimed at him during his years of show bizz hiatus as if he had some sort of obligation to entertain us were pathetic and ridiculous. And I suppose we all could stand to find some time to watch the wheels turn round now and again, even if most of us might not have a five year solid block for it....
  • Ian from Lethbridge, CanadaIncredible song! It always brings me comfort whenever I hear it.
  • Margaret from Hanceville, AlI liked this song because John Lennon seemed to want to show the world that he was a happy, normal family-man who was his own person ; not the Beatles , but himself, John Lennon, the husband and father.
  • Rob from The Woods Outside The City, ArMike ... "Rock'N'Roll" would be John's last album before retiring in much the same way that "Let It Be" was the Beatles' last album before retiring; meaning, it wasn't. "Walls And Bridges" was recorded after "Rock'N'Roll" but released before, just as "Abbey Road" was recorded after "Let It Be" but released before. You can thank one Mr. Spector for the delay in both. All hardcore Beatles fans could tell you that.
  • Mike from Carrier Mills, IlYeah, 'Rock N'Roll' is a pretty good album. I mean it's no 'Imagine' or 'Plastic Ono Band,' but i really like it.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScIs his album of Rock n Rool covers good?
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScWhat can I say? It's a great song! He obviously loved his family.
  • Mike from Carrier Mills, IlJohn's last album before retiring was not Walls & Bridges, it was Rock N' Roll. It was released in 1975. It was his album of cover songs of old rock n' roll hits. All hardcore Lennon fans could tell you that.
  • Nick from Boston , MaGreat song. Lennon was one of the most spirtual song writers of all-time. Who knows what would have happened if he was still living.
  • Stephanie from Ellicott City, Mdthis is one of my theme songs ... feel like it describes my life quite well.
  • Chance from Melbourne, AustraliaSuch a brilliant song, I love listening to it whenever people try to question the way I'm living my life. Our modern society is so over stimulated, over-stressed, and so over-worked, we tend to forget the basic things in life.
  • Mix Master Wipe from Adelaide, AustraliaFantastic song,so cool and laid back.
    Man! Lennon was so good.
  • Pete from Nowra, Australial love this song too......i just love it
  • Erin Lennon from Toronto, Canadai love this song, it is one of my favourites. its sad to think that john stopped music for a long time! i know he wanted to take of sean, but this song just shows how talented he was! he is the most brilliant man to ever live, and i just can't believe he's gone, it's like the music has died! nothing can ever live up to the beatles
  • Allen from Leicestershire, EnglandI love this song, it's just so thoughtful. Pondering your destiny and taking comfort from being in the moment. John spending time with his family was his life right then. Of course he came back to work but that was it, his life at that time. Such positive thoughts are typical of John and the line 'Well I tell them there's no problem, only solutions' shows that to good effect. What a great man, a genius.
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