By Danny Abriano
On this date in 1984, John Lennon’s “I’m Stepping Out” (with Yoko Ono’s “Sleepless Night” as the B side) was posthumously released as a single in the U.S.
The song, which was recorded in 1980, was featured on the John and Yoko album Milk and Honey.
At the time of his death, Lennon was starting to embark on what would’ve been his re-emergence after the five year hiatus he took from the music business between 1975 and 1980.
In a 1980 interview with Playboy, Lennon described why he took his break from the music business:
There were many reasons. I had been under obligation or contract from the time I was 22 until well into my 30s. After all those years, it was all I knew. I wasn’t free. I was boxed in. My contract was the physical manifestation of being in prison. It was more important to face myself and face that reality than to continue a life of rock ‘n’ roll… and to go up and down with the whims of either your own performance or the public’s opinion of you. Rock ‘n’ roll was not fun anymore. I chose not to take the standard options in my business… going to Vegas and singing your great hits, if you’re lucky, or going to hell, which is where Elvis went.
The years Lennon spent away from the music industry included lots of time spent as a “househusband,” whose main focus was taking care of his young son Sean. “I’m Stepping Out” is John’s tale of his time away from the business and how it was at times making him stir crazy.
There were lots of reasons why John wanted to return to the spotlight in 1980, which he explained during the same Playboy interview cited above:
You breathe in and you breathe out. We feel like doing it and we have something to say. Also, Yoko and I attempted a few times to make music together, but that was a long time ago and people still had the idea that the Beatles were some kind of sacred thing that shouldn’t step outside its circle. It was hard for us to work together then. We think either people have forgotten or they have grown up by now, so we can make a second foray into that place where she and I are together, making music… simply that. It’s not like I’m some wondrous, mystic prince from the rock-‘n’-roll world dabbling in strange music with this exotic, Oriental dragon lady, which was the picture projected by the press before.
As is noted, lots of what John was feeling during his “househusband” period – including his yearning to eventually make a partial return to the spotlight – was described in “I’m Stepping Out,” which can be heard below.