"Watching the Wheels"
Watching the Wheels (John Lennon single - cover art).jpg
Single by John Lennon
from the album Double Fantasy
B-side"Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" (US Reissue) "Yes, I'm Your Angel" (Yoko Ono) (UK/US)
Released13 March 1981 (US)
27 March 1981 (UK)
GenrePop rock
LabelGeffen Records
Songwriter(s)John Lennon
Producer(s)John Lennon, Yoko Ono & Jack Douglas
John Lennon singles chronology
"Watching the Wheels"
Double Fantasy track listing

"Watching the Wheels" is a single by John Lennon released posthumously in 1981, after his murder. The B-side features Yoko Ono's "Yes, I'm Your Angel." It was the third and final single released from Lennon and Ono's album Double Fantasy, and reached No. 10 in the US on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 7 on Cashbox Magazine's Top 100.[1] It peaked at number 30 in the UK.

Writing and recording

In "Watching the Wheels" Lennon addresses those who were confounded by his "househusband" years, 1975–1980, during which he retired from the music industry to concentrate on raising his son Sean with Ono. The acoustic demo of "Watching the Wheels" is featured in the ending credits to the 2009 film Funny People. The song features a hammered dulcimer accompanying the lead piano.[2] Though most of the musicians on the album were well-known and oft-recorded session players, the dulcimer was played by one Matthew Cunningham; producer Jack Douglas invited Cunningham to the session after having heard him playing dulcimer on the streets of New York.


The photograph on the cover was taken by Paul Goresh, a fan of Lennon who also took the infamous photo of Lennon signing the copy of Double Fantasy belonging to Mark David Chapman shortly before Chapman murdered Lennon. Both photos were taken at the same place, in front of the Dakota building, which was the site of his 1980 shooting. Later, Chapman was recorded in police custody reciting the line "People say I'm crazy" from the song and was later sampled for use by the band EMF in the track "Lies" from their 1991 album Schubert Dip; however, upon immediate protests by Yoko Ono the sampling was removed on subsequent pressings.


Chart performance

Cover versions

The song has been covered by Gwen Guthrie (1992), The Samples (1997); Paraguayan rock band Deliverans released a Spanish version on the compilation album Lennon Vive: Un tributo del Rock paraguayo (2000),[16] Matisyahu for the benefit album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur (2007), and Charly García under the name "Mirando las ruedas" for his album Kill Gil (2010). Patrick Wolf re-arranged the song for a performance at Yoko Ono's Meltdown Festival at the Southbank Centre.

An acoustic demo version of the song, performed by Lennon, was featured on the soundtrack of Judd Apatow's 2009 film Funny People.

In 2020, a cover of the song by Chris Cornell, a huge fan of John Lennon, was included on his posthumous album No One Sings Like You Anymore, Vol. 1.[17]


  1. ^ Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen to This Book (illustrated ed.). [S.l.]: Paper Jukebox. p. 326. ISBN 978-0-9544528-1-0.
  2. ^ "John Lennon – Double Fantasy". Jpgr.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  3. ^ "Classic Tracks: John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Watching the Wheels"". Mixonline. December 8, 2010.
  4. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Austchartbook.com.au. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  5. ^ austriancharts.at
  6. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly – Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  7. ^ offiziellecharts.de
  8. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Watching the Wheels". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  9. ^ officialcharts.com
  10. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  11. ^ "Adult Contemporary Music Chart". Billboard. 1981-05-23. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  12. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending May 23, 1981". Retrieved 2 April 2020. Cash Box magazine
  13. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  14. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1981/Top 100 Songs of 1981". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  15. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles – 1981". Tropicalglen.com. 1981-12-26. Archived from the original on 2016-10-22. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  16. ^ "Deliverans - Watching the wheels". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-05.
  17. ^ Chris Cornell’s Historic Voice and Great Ear Take Center Stage on the Covers LP, ‘No One Sings Like You Anymore’, rollingstone.com, December 11, 2020