Friday, November 30, 2012

The Ballad of John & Yoko

  When I was younger, I assumed John Lennon and Yoko Ono were a bunch of freaks. I never gave them any credit for the wonderful ideas and creations they had, and I'm sure enough nowadays they don't get that credit, either. Although I hate choosing favorites, I prefer John's first wife, Cynthia Powell, to Yoko, simply because Yoko was cold to the public and "stole John" from Cynthia. But I realized that Yoko really led John to come out of his shell and not be the "mean Beatle," as he was sometimes viewed. Before Yoko he had hurt Cynthia several times (I don't know the extent of this, I just remember reading about it) and not being the best man he could be. But after he met Yoko, he was much more caring overall and just wanted to be treated as a regular person, rather than man who had just created a band for some money, as he was when he first started the Beatles, then known as the Quarrymen.
  Together, mainly in the late 1960's when John and Yoko's relationship shocked the world, the two created some brilliant art pieces and thinking ideas that they personally believed would help affect the general population and shape the way people think. Unfortunately, this was not the case, and many of these ideas are forgotten. But I've decided to give a few here just to see maybe what it would be like if these ideas were taken more seriously.

"Hammer a Nail"

Yoko Ono's "Hammer a Nail.
  John Lennon and Yoko Ono met on 9 November, 1966 when John Lennon visited the Indica Gallery in London. There, Ono was preparing her first conceptual art exhibit. The two were introduced by the gallery's owner, John Dunbar. Apparently Lennon was intrigued by Yoko's piece titled "Hammer a Nail." The piece was simply a blank wooden board, and the idea was to hammer a nail into it, created the artwork itself. Although the exhibit hadn't officially began yet, Lennon wanted to go ahead and nail a nail in, but Ono stopped him. Supposedly Dunbar then proceeded to say: "Don't you know who this is? He's a millionaire! He might buy it."
   Ono had supposedly not heard of The Beatles, but said that Lennon could hammer a nail if he paid her five shillings. Lennon then replied, "I'll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in."



Whenever I see John and Yoko wearing all white, "Green Onions" by Booker T & the MG's gets stuck in my head.
 After their first meeting, supposedly Ono began telephoning and calling Lennon's home, and when his wife Cynthia asked for an explanation, he explained that Ono was only trying to obtain money for her "avant-garde bullshit." This, of course, was not the case; In May of 1968, while his wife Cynthia was on holiday in Greece, Lennon invited Ono to visit his house. They spent the night recording what would become the Two Virgins  album, after which, he said, they "made love at dawn." When Cynthia returned home, she found Yoko Ono wearing her bathrobe and drinking tea with Lennon who simply said, "Oh, hi."  Ono then became pregnant with Lennon's child in 1968 and miscarried a male child they named John Ono Lennon II on 21 November. This was a few weeks after Lennon's divorce from Cynthia was granted.
   During the last two years of being a Beatle, John Lennon formed a relationship with Yoko Ono and the two began protesting the war in Vietnam. They began to make public appearances and were eventually married on 20 March 1969.
  "Peter Brown called to say/'You can make it OK/You can get married in Gibraltar, near Spain.'" 

Bed-Ins for Peace 


  John and Yoko began their first bed-in for peace as their honeymoon in Amsterdam. They campaigned this week-long "bed-in for peace" as an alternative to going out and creating violence. The idea was that they were non-violently campaigning for peace by staying in bed for a week, and therefore there was no way for them to go out and create violence. The idea of a bed-in is derived from a sit-in, another type of protest in which the protesters remain seated in front of the establishment they are protesting against until their demands are met.
  Since John and Yoko knew their marriage was going to be a huge press event, they decided to use this opportunity to promote world peace. They spent a week from March 25 and 31 at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel lying in their bed and simply "growing their hair." This was both controversial and refreshing because the couple had recently released the nude cover of their Two Virgins album, and so the press expected them to be having sex. Instead, they spent their entire honeymoon sitting in bed, talking about peace, and answering interviews with signs over their bed reading "Hair Peace" and "Bed Peace."
"Drove from Paris to the Amsterdam Hilton/Talking in our beds for a week/The newspapers said, "'Say what you doing in bed?'"/I said, "'We're only trying to get us some peace'"
John and Yoko in one of their bed-in peaceful protests.
  During April 1969, John and Yoko sent acorns to the heads of state in various countries throughout the globe hopes that they would plant them as a symbol of peace. For eight months, the couple was not granted a single visit with any world leader.
"Caught an early plane back to London/Fifty acorns tied in a sack"


  Their second Bed-In was planned to take place in New York, but John was not allowed into the United States due to his 1968 cannabis conviction. Instead they held the event in the Bahamas at the Sheraton Oceanus Hotel, flying there May 24, 1969, but after spending one night in the Bahamian heat, they decided to move to Montreal, Canada.
They flew to Montreal just two days after their arrival to the Bahamas on May 26, where they stayed at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. During their seven day stay, they invited Timothy Leary, Tommy Smothers, Dick Gregory, Murray the K, Al Capp, and others, and all but Al Capp sang on the peace anthem "Give Peace a Chance," which became a well-known both Lennon and hippie classic.


  In December of the same year, John and Yoko spread their messages of peace with billboards reading "WAR IS OVER! If You Want It - Happy Christmas From John and Yoko". These Billboards went up in eleven major world cities, and were known as icons of world peace. (If you've seen my Who I Am post, you'll notice in one of the pictures I have a "WAR IS OVER!" poster.)

The Ballad of John and Yoko

"Paul knew that people were being nasty to John, and he just wanted to make it well for him," said Ono. "Paul has a very brotherly side to him."
  After the events of John and Yoko's marriage and publicly held honeymoon bed-in, the world seemed to view John and Yoko as just another pair of hippies trying to change the world. This wasn't the case, and John desperately needed to get his point across. He wrote "The Ballad of John and Yoko," a three-minute blues-inspired rock song about his relationship with Ono that wasn't really a ballad at all. John was so eager to record the song that he didn't wait for both fellow Beatles Ringo Starr or George Harrison to return back to the studio, as they were both away, and he simply recorded it with just Paul McCartney. McCartney normally played bass guitar and Lennon rhythm, so for them two alone to play the entire song was extraordinary. Lennon did the song's lead vocals, lead guitar, steel-string acoustic guitar, and percussion, while McCartney sang harmony backing vocals, bass guitar, drums, acoustic piano, and maracas. The following exchange was supposedly said in the studio, as Ringo Starr normally played drums while George Harrison played lead guitar:

Lennon (on guitar): "Go a bit faster, Ringo!"
McCartney (on drums): "OK, George!"
  The song overall was a great hit. It became yet another number one song for the Beatles, and was released as the A-side to Harrison's "Old Brown Shoe" in 1969. This song also happened to be the Beatles' last U.K. number one single.

  I hope you've enjoyed my little educational piece; I really love writing them! Perhaps I could be a history textbook writer. :/ Anyways, here's a playlist that reminded me of John & Yoko!

1. "The Ballad of John and Yoko" - The Beatles
2. "Give Peace a Chance" - John Lennon
3. "Sister Golden Hair" - America
4. "Oh! Yoko" - John Lennon
5. "(San Francisco) Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair" - Scott McKenzie
6. "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)" - George Harrison
7. "Green Onions" - Booker T & The MG's (Whenever I see John and Yoko dressed in all white I imagine this song playing.)
8. "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" - The Beatles

1 comment:

  1. One of my favourite John and Yoko moments was when they visited one of the Prime Ministers with the most personality Canada has ever had, Pierre Trudeau. They were both stylishly dressed entirely in black.

    They're probably my favourite rock couple, just because they weren't afraid to be themselves. In fact, the other Beatles were very racist and sexist to Yoko when John first started bringing Yoko around. I'm glad that John held out and just knew that he loved her; he didn't care what other people thought and Yoko's been such a tractor beam of hate and she's held out too.

    I love them so much!