John Lennon seemed to live life in a unique way once he met Yoko Ono. It seemed that for 12 years (until he was killed in 1980), he felt that if people were going to look at gawk at him, he was going to make sure he gave people something to look at. In this case, it meant something to listen to as well.
As a slight nod to Thanksgiving Day in the United States, I wanted to shine the light on a picture sleeve that referred to “turkey” and I came up with this. Lennon came out with some pretty cool sleeves on Apple, as I’m a fan of the sleeves for “Give Peace A Chance”, “Power To The People”, and “Instant Karma (We All Shine On)”, but this one was always a bit eerie, more because it always raised the question: why?
“Cold Turkey” was a song written about him dealing with his heroin addiction, complete with the sounds of his withdrawals. Personally, as someone who always liked Lennon’s weirder and experimental side, I love the second half of the song where it’s just him screaming in utter pain as the band continue a repetitive riff to where it comes off like a drone, before he eventually reaches a conclusion, and the last few notes are flipped backwards. Regardless of what people felt about him, he knew he had the power and since he now had his own record label (Apple), he was going to release whatever the hell he wanted. Before this, he released “Give Peace A Chance”, a song that was recorded in a Canadian hotel room with friends, guests, and members of a Hare Krishna temple clapping and singing. You could never do that now, nor would it be considered worthy of international attention, but that song has since become an anthem. A year before this, he and Ono recorded them making a private home recording in their bedroom, and then chose to take some photos of them in the nude. That became Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins. They married in the spring of 1969, and that lead to the creation of the more adventurous Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions and Wedding Album, the latter of which came with plastic replications of their wedding certificate, their wedding photo, and a piece of cake. Statistically, they were huge flops, so the only time a Beatles fan could hear him do “proper” music was on the singles he was coming out with, and Lennon wasn’t about to go the easy route with those either, at least not until 1970, when he knew that The Beatles had come to an end.
The B-side to “Cold Turkey” was also credited to the Plastic Ono Band, but was Ono’s side to shine with the incredible “Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow)”. When you turned the picture sleeve on the other side, you saw Ono’s X-ray of her skull. EMI/Odeon in Japan decided to combine both sides and show their X-rays side to side on the cover for their release.