Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mother Superior Jump the Gun

Yoko Ono has a new album out; it looks promising, and I'll probably buy it next payday. I don't think I've bought anything by her since the 45 rpm single of "Walking on Thin Ice" that I bought in 1981. I have a couple of her early albums on vinyl: Fly and the first Plastic Ono Band studio album, plus a few others.

There's another video of "Walking on Thin Ice" on Youtube, with an animation of a girl and a rabbit; it seems to be a different mix as well, very pretty and arty, and it might be more accessible than this longer version. There are a few videos from Fly, but not, unfortunately, my favorite song from that album, "Midsummer New York." This one of "Mind Holes" is pretty good, though.

I've always liked Ono, partly I suppose because I'd heard of her before she got involved with John Lennon. I remember reading about one of her performances in Evergreen Review when I was in high school, so her name was already familiar to me when she became notorious on a grand scale. Because I was interested in avant-garde art as well as popular music, I didn't find her work threatening as many Beatles fans did. And I wasn't alone: one of the great ironies, as unexpected in its way as the Beatles' survival and endurance as a cultural phenomenon, is that Ono has had a remarkable -- oh, call it something else, "insidious" if you like -- influence on young women singers, from the B-52s to Jaurim. Not all female singers have to be ingenues, babes, sex symbols. Obviously, though, a lot of men always found Ono sexy. As one of the commenters on the AV Club Review pointed out:
She was already one of the more prominent artists in the Fluxus movement in Japan and New York in the early 1960s. She'd already secured at least a footnote in history for starting up the whole downtown loft scene in NYC (and being married to Toshi Ichiyanagi). Then she hooked up with a guy who inadvertently threw her under the harsh gaze of approximately one billion uncomprehending fanbois with unrequited bro-lust who neither know nor care about her work, in itself or in relation to the work of her peers.
"One billion uncomprehending fanbois with unrequited bro-lust" nails it perfectly. It seems that many of the fanbois' sisters took a different view, and learned from her.

(P.S. I forgot to mention that the Beatles had been interested in weird noise that isn't considered music by normal people, well before John met Yoko. John and Paul were both fans of Karlheinz Stockhausen, the pioneer of electronic music -- he was one of the icons they put on the cover of Sgt. Pepper. John met Yoko at a preview of one of her exhibitions, so evidently he was interested in avant-garde art generally.)

I was a bit shaken to recall that Ono is now 76 years old. John Lennon, had he lived, would be 69; the rockers of the Sixties are becoming elderly.