Miscellaneous Rumbles

What Album Is This Beatle’s Song From?

2

Well, that would be none of them. I love Yoko and what she did with John, but too often those works get tagged and labelled as crap.

It's not.

You might not like what she does but it was very much of its time and questioned the prevailing "art" assumptions of the day. And that's always a good thing.

4

To each his own.

If given a choice between this and Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, I'll take a noose.

Does challenging pretense with even more (but tangentially different) pretense really make a meaningful statement? Or is it just a way to flip off everybody under the guise of "high art"? I don't need an art critic of any kind to tell me what I like and what I don't like.

5

Self-indulgence is a mine field when creating art, but that's what leads to some of the best art. Sometimes.

It also leaves a lot of people scratching their heads, and that's okay too.

Ironically, 'Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band' is a good example of that in action.

When it is a perfect storm and captures the public's imagination, there's a cultural paradigm shift and things are never quite the same, in a good way. Someone is tilling new soil, blazing a trail, and others will be inspired to go there too.

When it misses the mark however, we all get an opportunity to wince, feel embarrassed for them, make snarky jokes.

I've always thought the nature of Yoko's art works best when the artist is less famous. A key thread of her gallery and conceptual work was about triggering these zen moments of self-awareness, connection, vulnerability. Those have to be about the experience, not who's pulling the trigger.
And when you become the wife of a pop star, and viewed as part of the jet-set, it throws a bright lens on something rather nuanced and subtle. Consequently that kind of conceptual art can land wrong and seem pretentious to a lot of people.

Fame and notoriety can get in the way, whether the artist likes it or not.

.. Then there are the 'Kanye Wests' of the art world.

Artists who don't understand the difference between 'Challenging your audience' and 'making them work too hard to pay attention to you.'

Success can do that to an artist*.

*I am using the term 'artist' in its broadest sense.

6

This morning’s checklist:

  1. Cup of coffee

  2. Cigarette

  3. Take a ‘art’

7

Woke up with a headache, listened to that which made my brain bleed which made my headache go away, thanks!

8

John and Yoko put out a blizzard of stuff, starting w/ Two Virgins in 1968 thru that NYC double alburm in 1972, Some were really obscure, like that one "Life With the Lions" that no one has ever heard of, whereas at least some people have heard of Two Virgins.

For feedback fans some of all this stuff has her vocalizing over John's guitar feedback/noise.

Then I guess nothing until Double Fantasy in 1980. She sings a bit on the White Album.

I''d rather remember John from that era with stuff like this. They were playing thru Traynors, btw

BTW it was one of these days righ around now in September, in 1969, where he announced he was leaving the group.

9

She practiced that part while falling down a mountain side. Man, Art really is subjective.

I love the guy casually walking out at 1:32 and then another guy at 1:40. first video.

EDIT: Thank goodness that Yoko was still looking for the lyrics to blue swede shoes.

10

people love to hate on Yoko...some folks will never let go of the Beatles. but her vocal style was unquestionably a massive influence on punk and post-punk female singers...Lene Lovich, the B-52s, X-Ray Spex, Diamanda Galas, and a plethora of other singers/groups could never have existed without the example of Yoko's aggressive atonality and declamatory delivery. her conceptual art pre-Lennon was also brilliant. she's not for everyone, but to negate someone's art because it doesn't work for you is, well, kind of ignorant. it's like saying the Velvet Underground or the Mothers Of Invention--who oddly enough were both signed by Verve--sucked because they didn't fit the preconceptions of their time. and was Yoko creepy and manipulative? of course...but so was Phil Spector.

11

What in the most hellish of hells is she doing with that sheet?!

12

Aw, C'mon, Mac. If you really want to sit around listening to Yoko gargle for an hour, have at it.

Like I said, Art is subjective and if you like it, knock yourself out but I will never consider what she did pleasing to the ear. To me, art shouldn't be annoying. Just my take, though. I can pretty much listen to all of the above mentioned by you.

13

She was someone that didn't belong trying her best to fit in I guess, it happens. Sometimes you have to be outspoken if you're being ignored. I think she has a much more mature view these days.

14

The look on Paul's face says it all.

15

Aw, C'mon, Mac. If you really want to sit around listening to Yoko gargle for an hour, have at it.

Like I said, Art is subjective and if you like it, knock yourself out but I will never consider what she did pleasing to the ear. To me, art shouldn't be annoying. Just my take, though. I can pretty much listen to all of the above mentioned by you.

– Suprdave

well, i guess that's a difference between us. i think that in order for any kind of art to progress, there has to be a periodic smashing of the standards of beauty and mere competence. if it hadn't been for punk, American "rock" today would be all second-level Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald-era Doobie Brothers, and Steely Dan followers wanking away on their vaguely jazzy Larry Carlton shiz. i like being challenged by art, though i still don't get Basquiat or Black Flag. there's a fair bit of music i've had to work to understand and appreciate in the course of my life, ranging from the VU to early punk to techno and A Flock Of Seagulls, and i like to think my own music is better for it. god only knows i had to get away from my 60s SF psychedelia and CSNY influences to find something of my own.

16

I never objected to Yoko, and neither felt nor pronounced any judgment on her relationship with John - or her debated impact on the Beatles. John was an adult - and an independent actor in both his life and his art - as was Yoko. Warn't none of my business. I've always respected that Yoko was, before John, and has remained since, an intelligent and creative artist in her own right.

Though I was too young at the time to take it all in, I generally got the point of the Bed-In, the general aesthetic of the Plastic Ono Band, and the cover of Two Virgins (being a trio of "artistic statements" the Johnyoko couple was most notorious/reviled for at the time, and remembered for now). It wasn't particularly important to me, but I didn't dismiss it as stuff and nonsense either.

The jamming and bashing and noise of Plastic Ono did suit the tenor of the times - an explosive catharsis of barely-constrained chaos after the formal control and refinement of The Beatles, a reaction to everything being a Beatle had meant, and done for, and done TO John. It gathered up political and cultural tensions and madness of the era. It was intentionally anti-pop, intended to defy - even shatter - the expectations and formal tropes of pop. There may have been an element of testing the public's tolerance as well, and experimenting with the dynamics of fame.

It also focused John's and Yoko's considerable psychic and emotional turmoil (both as individuals and a couple), and gave them some outlet. (The couple's adventures in primal scream therapy fit right in here.)

And I like macphisto's recognition of a link between Yoko and later female singers. I'd add that she probably liberated some male singers to deliver unhinged barbaric yawps as well - and that Plastic Ono had, in its way, an influence on punk.

None of which means I particularly enjoy Yoko's voice.

But it is uncannily memorable. I bought the single of "Cold Turkey" when it came out, and probably listened to side two exactly once. (Maybe twice, the second time to confirm I'd heard what I thought I'd just heard.) Nonetheless, "Don't Worry Kyoko, Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow" has remained since 1969 safely filed in my brain under Ono, Yoko: WTH? Some combination of the vocal performance with its militantly aggressive vocal fanfare and singsong repetitions of "don't worry" and the broken stagger of the intentionally primitive slide guitars (go, lost boys!) served to sear even the long title into my brain. Only I remembered it as looking for A hand, not my hand.

I always wondered what the seemingly absurdist title referred to. Years later, after learning of Yoko's WWII experience of leading a younger sister through bombing rubble, I made a number of jumps to conclusions that satisfied me: that they were orphans in the aftermath of the atomic bombs (they weren't), and that Yoko had seen a dismembered hand in the snow (I don't think she did) as they made their way across an apocalyptic cityscape. (A subliminal image of nuclear winter in my mind, I guess).

Just today, wiki tells me the song's genesis was actually in Yoko's enforced separation from her child during her custody battles of the time. So much for my impressions.

But isn't that art all over? A title connecting the singer to her Japanese ancestry (with all the echoes of recent history that implied), a primitive proto-rock blues thrash, and inchoate atonal vocal howls all combined with a small biographical detail to create a vivid impression. Some of her pain - their pain (including John's and Eric Clapton's) - was certainly packed into the performance, and some of at least John's and Yoko's did have roots in WWII.

I don't suppose the meaning I eventually took (from a song I'd heard twice) was specifically intended by the artists. But really bad art doesn't produce any impression in the art "consumer" at all - and good art always leaves enough space for interpretation. It's part of what gives it life, makes it interesting.

All of which gives the song a pretty impressive track record for impact, at least for me.

Listening again today (because the thread reminded me of it), I do hear more to ... appreciate, if not quite like ... in Yoko's vocalese. I'm much more consciously appreciative now than I was in 1969 of the atonality and dissonance (whether or not controlled and intentional). Some of her tremolo ululations suggest an analog synth, with filters and LFOs a-modulatin' and the pitch wheel wheeling. If I translate them in that way, I hear them differently - as simple musical convention-bending rather than self-conscious and willful vocal weirdness. I find the most unfettered screams both effective and affective.

I understand audience reaction to the performance of "Don't Worry" at Toronto's Live Peace concert was "muted" (imagine that), but the version three months later went at a New York concert for UNICEF (and included on the Sometime in New York City album was better received. Wiki says it went on for 40 minutes, and that critics have recognized a hypnotic and entrancing force in both the band's and Yoko's performance. There's a 15-minute version of that on ütoob, and I think I'll give it a listen. That'll make four times in my life I've heard the song - which might be a lifetime dosage, we'll see. Or maybe I'll discover Yoko's voice is an acquired taste I've belatedly acquired.

In any case, in a culture where The Beatles, like most musicians - particularly in that era - set out to be euphonious, to sound pleasing, the indelible impression Yoko and the Plastics make illustrates that we don't have to enjoy or even LIKE art in order for it to do its job. It sets off ripples of both connection and reaction in our minds; we think something, we feel something. Even if it's discomfort, anger, or disdain.

It's hard to have no reaction to it.

17

i meant to mention David Thomas of Pere Ubu as well, who was glossolalia-izing in 1974-75, well before punk. his cracked, high-tenor wailing and muttering is perhaps one of Yoko's clearest influences.

18

Sean Lennon is my favorite creation of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

19

Oh god, did Yoko's primal scream incite today's "intellectuals on parade day". All this pyscho babel still won't help me with my brain hurting from listening to that. I don't need to be told why I should admire or consider something art. That said, I like Sean Lennon.

20

Well it is all subjective and I certainly meant no harm to Mac. Just punchin' fun but in that, I will say, she would have to be an acquired taste. I just haven't acquired it yet and I have listened to the art in it's entirety, unfortunately. Heck, I can take Yoko better than Axle Rose for that matter.

21

While watching that fascinating bit my cat jumped up, flipped on the garbage disposal and dived in head first ! Luckily for me my heads too big or it would have been curtains for me too.

22

I read an article and I think it was Eric Clapton who was joining Yoko and others in a concert. He asked George what key is the song in and George replied with something close to “it doesn’t matter”

23

Well, it's more or less a one-chord drone in Universal E.

The slide blues lick on which it's built (and de-constructed in various chaotic ways) would do credit to the North Mississippi Allstars, or certain apocalyptic excursions during John Paul Jones' solo albums. (Maybe shades of "When the Levee Breaks.") Or, given the way the band kicks off the song for the "Sometime in NY City" performance, "Good TImes Bad Times." It sounds like a direct lift from Zep's debut - and might well be, either consciously or otherwise, as Zep 1 had been released 9 months earlier.

The New York version is, for sure, more interesting than other recordings I've heard. For one thing, the band comprises an epic squad of volunteers (and/or draftees):

from Wikipedia (including Lennon's aliases for the album sleeve):
Eric Clapton ('Derek Claptoe') – guitar
George Harrison ('George Harrisong') – guitar
Delaney & Bonnie ('Bilanie & Donnie') – guitar, percussion (and friends, brass, percussion)
Billy Preston ('Billy Presstud') – organ
Nicky Hopkins ('Sticky Topkins') – electric piano (overdubbed in N.Y. as organ was lost)
Bobby Keyes ('Robbie Knees') – sax
Klaus Voormann ('Raus Doorman') – bass
Jim Gordon ('Jim Bordom') – drums
Keith Moon ('Kief Spoon') – drums
Alan White ('Dallas White') – drums

It's both amusing and amazing to meditate on the unlikely musical cultures colliding on the stage. Not to mention that with that much firepower, I'm sure cranked as loud as they could get, it must have rolled off the stage in a wild thund'rous blast. ( 'curs to me that chemicals might have been involved.)

Yoko, while remaining as fundamentally annoying as ever (if that's the way you take her, which is easy enough to do), finds a lot more ways to exrpess...whatever it is she's expressing. There's some orgiastic vocalisme (a la Meg Ryan going at it in the restaurant), more moaning, a greater variety of possible words being tormented, and in general more range of vocal...technique?

The band is way more varied and responsive than either the studio or Live Peace versions. Everyone actually finds something to do. The horn section contributes substantially (you can imagine them working out parts on the fly), especially as they and the rhythm section find effective unison punches and calls and responses with Yoko. It's the first time I actually get the sense Yoko is listening to the music she caterwauls over, which makes it markedly more musical.

I mean, if you can take your music with large doses of noise (I can) and tolerate Yoko as part of that (and for this rendition - I'm listening now - I'm chuckling). Everyone in the band really is enlisted in the noisefest. They're out there with it, as deep in it as Yoko, all actively digging for ways to creatively contribute to the party.

I hear shades of Ginger Baker's Air Force, Soft Machine, and MC5's Kick Out the Jams live album. There's more than one dynamic-freakout-psychedelic polytonal feedback-textured interlude. (It's not unlike the loooong magic acid noise jam with Jody Porter at the Nashville Roundup several years ago.)

In all it's a kind of trancey orgiastic tribal ritual of exorcism, wherein all involved get as unhinged as they can, ginning up a whole pile of pure energy they then have somehow to dissipate, squalling and howling and grinding and inciting each other - or maybe just doing all they can to wear out the crazy woman and get her to shut the hell up. (Though, actually, she does shut up for intervals to let the band's textures come forward.)

I've seen (and been in) bands caught in jams they can't find their way out of, and sense a frustrated (and likely exhausted) drummer taking matters in his own hands by cranking up the tempo till it threatens to wreck the train, then drawing it slowly and dramatically down so no one on stage could miss the arc.

I swar tew Gawd it's actually entertaining. The audience even chants MORE MORE MORE at the end.

24

You know, if you take Yoko's squalls as a psychedelic guitar freaking out, the parts start to make musical sense. You could get annoyed at a guitarist who sprayed them all over your song, or you could consider them a mad sort of virtuosity.

25

kind of an Albert Ayler thing. which scans given that she was active in the Manhattan avant-art scene when the New Thing was part of the fabric.

i never said anyone should like Yoko's music--trust me, i don't expect most people will like it--just that denying that it's even "art" is presumptuous. some people only like music that's pleasant; after 60 years of popular music, "pleasant" bores me to tears unless there's something profound behind the smiley face. that doesn't make me better, or right...it's just an alternate opinion. some folks only like representational paintings, and that's OK, but over my lifetime i've gotten dead sick of hearing that Pollock or Warhol "(aren't) art." in particular, Warhol's career was based on interrogating the question "What Is Art?", which is one of the biggest questions of modern times. like i said about the Deluxe Reverb, maybe it's just not for you.


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