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.