John Lennon's 'Crippled Inside' Gets 'Evolution Mix': Yoko Ono, Klaus Voormann & Sam Gannon Reflect (Exclusive)

John Lennon and Yoko Ono
Iain Macmillan 

John Lennon and Yoko Ono

John Lennon’s Imagine is about to get a lavish makeover. On Oct. 5, Geffen/UMe will release Imagine — The Ultimate Collection, a 140-track collection containing remixes, remasters and previously unreleased material from the iconic 1971 album’s sessions. Especially revealing: the box’s fourth disc, titled Evolution Mixes, featuring stitched-together montages of each Imagine cut’s sketch, demo, alternate take and finished product.

This open curtain into Imagine’s writing and recording process extends to its sardonic Country-and-Western pastiche “Crippled Inside.” According to Sam Gannon, the engineer behind Evolution Mixes, it essentially came out of John’s mind exactly as we hear it. “There were only two full takes!” Gannon tells Billboard. “I think he had a vision for it that needed very little coaxing out.”

And in Evolution Mixes, you can hear it from the horse’s mouth. At the top of the track, there’s a sound byte of Lennon being interviewed by Tariq Ali in 1971, describing his mischievous vision for the song. “There’s a nice one called ‘Crippled Inside,’” he smirks. “Very corny, Country and Western.”

Not that the song’s goofy, clip-clopping backing was immediately in everyone’s wheelhouse. Bassist and Beatles insider Klaus Voormann, especially, was taken aback by Lennon’s insistence that he play a slap bass. As Voormann tells Billboard: “I never played an upright bass.” But Lennon wouldn’t budge. He sent Klaus, along with Beatles roadie and compatriot Mal Evans, to a music shop in London to purchase the instrument at once. Voormann still couldn’t pull off Bakersfield-style slapping; instead, he called in Imagine’s drummer Alan White to click-clack on the strings with his drumsticks while he fingered the neck with his left hand. (“I was just sliding along and Alan was playing the rim,” Voormann recalls with a chuckle.)

This small moment typifies the atmosphere surrounding “Crippled Inside” and the Imagine album as a whole: by all accounts, everyone was having a ball, shaking off the demons that had overwhelmed the previous year’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. “He was just trying to not be too serious,” remembers Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono, who played many silent-but-crucial roles on “Crippled Inside” and the rest of Imagine. “All of us are crippled inside, and this song [describes] it in the right way.”

Imagine — The Ultimate Collection is out Oct. 5. A restored and remixed version of Lennon and Ono's 1972 film Imagine will screen in select theaters on Sept. 17.