“I had run into John a year before we did the record. It had been a while since we’d seen each other. He was so nice, congratulating me on being a producer and everything. He told me that he had been making bread and basically being a homebody. He was very happy. He had Sean with him, who was probably four at the time. It was so great. Then he gave me his private number and said, ‘Call me up. Come over to the Dakota, and let’s talk.’ I never did. I just didn’t want to bother him. He had his new life, and I just didn't want to intrude. I thought he was just being kind.
“A year later, I got a strange phone call: ‘If you’re interested in doing something with John and Yoko, go to this pier on 30th Street. A sea plane will pick you up and fly you to an undisclosed location. And you can’t tell anyone what’s going on.’ So I went out there, and the plane came and picked me up and flew me to Cold Springs Harbor.
“ Once there, I went to this mansion, and there was Yoko. She handed me an envelope that read: ‘For Jack’s ears only.’ She told me that John was in Bermuda, had had some things, and if I listened to the tape and liked it, we’d do a record. She also gave me some tapes with her material on it. Then John called for me, and he said, ‘I give you my number, and you don’t call me!’ [Laughs]
“I went home and listened, and I thought, How can I beat this? It was John singing and playing acoustic guitar, banging on some pots and pans. It was so raw and honest. Every song was great.
“The whole thing was top secret. I hired great guys and put together a band, and we did some terrific rehearsal tapes. But they didn’t even know who they were backing – that’s how secretive this was. John didn’t want to come to the sessions at first – he was unsure of himself. So I would record the rehearsals with the band, then I’d go and play them for John, who would sit in his bed at the Dakota and listen to them. He’d suggest some changes, and then I’d go to the band and work things out.
“On the last rehearsal it was finally confirmed to the band who the artist was. This was in another apartment that John had, and he was there for this one. At the door was a Fender Rhodes, and John played me a new song. There was no tape of it yet. It was Starting Over. I heard it and I said, ‘That’s the first song we’ll record.’ I knew it was a hit.
"The whole thing was an incredible experience."