In Defense of ...Yoko Ono

October 02, 2009 | Comments (0) | by Adam Blank

I know what you're thinking. "But Yoko Ono broke up The Beatles!" To which I say 1) No she didn't, 2) Who cares?

1) She wasn't the main reason The Beatles broke up. Blaming Yoko for The Beatles' break-up is sort of like saying Gavrilo Princip was the sole cause of World War I without any attempt to understand the political climate of Europe during the early 20th century. The Beatles were well on their way to collapsing from within by the time Yoko showed up. That isn't to say she didn't play a part in the band's eventual disintegration, but there were many other factors that pushed the band toward their demise.

2) Yoko isn't completely without guilt, but if you still insist on putting most of the blame on her for The Beatles breaking up, then look at it this way: The Beatles needed to break up. They had stopped touring in 1966 and every album after Magical Mystery Tour was merely a collection of solo projects released under The Beatles' name anyway. The break-up gave John & George the chance to spread their wings and attempt new & edgy things, gave Ringo the chance to try his hand at songwriting & get better musicians to play with him, and gave Paul the chance to make nearly 40 years of mediocre pop-bullshit for an adoring crowd of idiots. And while none of their individual successes can rival anything The Beatles ever released, it's not a bad showing. I only wish The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Aerosmith, and a host of other aging relics had the balls to call it a day instead of staying together for the fat cash involved in touring "for the last time."

She's an amazing artist. I firmly believe that Yoko Ono would have made a name for herself even if she hadn't married a Beatle. Granted, it would have been an obscure name only dropped by pretentious art snobs, but still... Even before she met John Lennon, she had played some fairly successful experimental music concerts and had done a handful of conceptual art shows. Yoko's marriage to John Lennon ultimately led her to become the most famous widow since Jackie Onassis, but Yoko never rested on her laurels. She earned her success.

For an example of some of the amazing art Yoko Ono has produced, get your hands on a copy of her book Grapefruit and flip to a random page and really look at it. If you still don't think that Yoko has something profound to add to Western civilization, then send it to me (if you bought it new), or defecate on it (if you borrowed it from the library), take a picture, then send the picture to me so I can use it in a conceptual art show of my own entitled "Corn, Nuts & Grapefruit."

Don't like her art? Well there's still hope because...

Her music is amazing. This might be the hardest part to defend, as any prolific artist who has put out dozens of albums over 40 years has bound to have had a few creative miscarriages along the way. Still, Yoko's music is usually fresh & always a little scary but somehow manages to age like fine wine. Skeptical? Give Rising or Seasons of Glass a try.

Aside from her own amazing catalog, Yoko's music has influenced many of the greats. This list includes (obviously) John Lennon, The B-52's, Blondie, The Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, Cibo Matto, and lots of other musicians that I can't be bothered to look up right now. That's pretty impressive.

If Yoko Had Balls...

At 76 years old, Yoko Ono is still going strong. In 2007, she headlined Pitchfork's Music Festival in Chicago. Last month she released Between My Head & The Sky. To say that the album is edgy coming from an elderly woman is an understatement. This album is more daring than most shit released by bands 1/3rd her age. Does it all work? Hell no. Is it a great album? Not quite. Is it groundbreaking? Sort of. There's some stuff that's reminiscent of the short-lived No Wave movement as well as hints of funk, disco, punk, and traditional Japanese folk-songs packed in with Yoko howling, singing, stammering and adlibbing when she could be collecting social security. It's uneven, but she's still putting herself out there.

She's still an activist for peace & equality. From her bed-in for peace with John in 1969 to her revisions of her own songs supporting gay marriage in 2004, Yoko Ono has never stopped fighting the good fight. She launched her own $50,000 peace award for artists "living in conflict" in 2002. That's badass for an old lady.

Come on, people. It's been 40 years. Go play Beatles Rock Band and give the woman a well-deserved break already. She's earned it.