I used to feel sorry for Yoko. Her association with Lennon assures that her work will always be remembered but rarely taken seriously. Now, John Lennon’s solo albums are being remastered and reissued (why? who would want to buy Walls and Bridges again?) but if you believe the PR sheet, Yoko has made an executive decision to trim the Sometime in New York City package to a single disc. Her explanation is priceless:
Says Yoko, “When John started singing ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ at the Fillmore East show it was his cry from the heart to the two heavily avant-garde artists - Frank Zappa and myself - with whom he was sharing a stage. John started to sing a rock n’ roll song with simple chords from his childhood, to which not much could be added musically by Zappa’s great band. I did my vocalization to add a little twist, while Frank jammed on his guitar - but the main emotion of the piece was pure Liverpool. John sang beautifully.
I decided that the Fillmore performance should end here after this track, without going into the long avant-garde improvisation that followed, led by Frank and I. I wanted John to have the last voice on the album, spreading his childhood over us.
If you miss the ‘freak out’ part…just put a microphone to the many battlefields in the world. You will hear everything - children crying, guys shouting, and the occasional silence created by the dead.”
In a sense, she’s absolutely right; her kind of avant-garde musical experimentation is a war declared on listeners, a kind of torture inflicted on unsuspecting Beatles fans, something that makes babies cry. In the July 7, 2005 New Yorker, a story about the Navy’s training soldiers to resist “noise stress” torture mentioned how they were prepared by a continuous loop of a Yoko Ono record. According to the article, this is typically reported to be the “most gruelling” part of the training. I’m sure Yoko was very proud to discover this, and it reaffirmed fo rher what a powerful artist she is. What I like best about this new statement is how she implies Lennon was a childlike idiot savant while her and Zappa were the true artists leaving him behind, helplessly trapped with his imbecilic rock and roll.
Nice try, Yoko. I suspect what happened was the record company had no interest in manufacturing a double disc merely to accomodate twenty minutes of Yoko mewing and wailing like a six-month-old with a dirty diaper and demanded that “Don’t Worry Kyoko” be deleted from the track list. The “heavily avant-garde” Yoko, wanting the cash from the reissues but wrestling with her monumental ego, managed to vomit up this ludicrous rationalization.
This new PR release proves that Yoko knows that listening to her music is kind of like being tortured, as it is emulates unsettling gutteral/semiotic/abject sounds (like babies crying relentlessly, or people burning alive—some of her songs seemed to designed to evoke ground zero at Hiroshima).
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.