190. Yoko Ono – ‘Death Of Samantha’ (1972)

“When I’m with people
I thank God
I can talk hip
When I’m crying inside”

Taken from the album Approximately Infinite Universe

Also released on Walking On Thin Ice, Onobox and Yes, I’m A Witch

This is bleak. Yoko Ono is not a lady who is known for her uplifting personal material – when it comes to world peace and all that she’s one of the most positive writers around, but when it came to her own life it seemed to always be a downer. That isn’t a bad thing artistically at all, it makes for very interesting songs – like ‘Death Of Samantha’, a song in which Yoko repeatedly tells us of an unspecified important moment in her life. She sings “something inside me, something inside me died that day”.

Released as the B-side of ‘Yang Yang’ – clearly making that one of the best A/B-side combos ever – and also on Approximately Infinite Universe, this original version was a bit of a dirge like a lot of her records at the time. Yoko had just recently branched out into pop music, and this was at once one of her most alienating and accessible records.

However, as with most Yoko songs, the original is not the best version and not the one I fell in love with. In 2007 Yoko released Yes, I’m A Witch, a “reimagination” album featuring mixes of her old songs done by current artists. ‘Death Of Samantha’ was redone by Porcupine Tree, in a stripped back, haunting version that accentuates the dark, deep sorrow in her voice. The sound of “something inside me died that day”, with the guitar in the background howling like the wind during a storm, will forever be one of my most unforgettable musical memories.

Audio:

2007 Porcupine Tree version:

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