Most of us can barely finish a moderate to-do list in one day.
But musical genius John Lennon wrote AND recorded an entire song—”Instant Karma!”—starting the moment he woke up on the morning of January 27, 1970 and ending that night in the recording studio.
Less than a month after the day he wrote and recorded the lyrics, (which famously include “Well we all shine on/Like the moon and the stars and the sun”) the single was released both in the states and in England.
Though the single lacked the “meticulous level of studio craft” the Beatles were famous for, it still performed staggeringly well. “Instant Karma!” became a world-wide hit, and even became the first single by a solo Beatle to sell a million copies.
Lennon was recorded as saying, slightly hyperbolically, that he “wrote [the song] for breakfast, recorded it for lunch and we’re putting it out for dinner.”
But the song’s near-instantaneous release onto the music scene is strongly in keeping with its ideals of swiftly executed karmic justice. These ideals resonated with the music world so much so that the song immediately shot to No. 5 on the charts after its release on February 6, 1970.
Not even two weeks later, Instant Karma! was released in the U.S., where it blasted its way to No. 3. The song blew onto Top 10 lists in a number of other countries as well, including Canada where it matched the United States in becoming No. 2.
“Everybody was going on about karma, especially in the ’60s,” Lennon said in a famous interview with David Sheff, “but it occurred to me that karma is instant, as well as it influences your past life or your future life…that’s what people ought to be concerned about. Also, I’m fascinated by commercials and promotion as an art form. I enjoy them. So, the idea of instant karma was like the idea of instant coffee: presenting something in a new form. I just liked it.”
Though “Instant Karma!” was a great triumph for Lennon, bad news was on the way for the Beatles. Just two months after the song’s release, Paul McCartney officially announced the band’s split.