KEEP IT ON THE BROWNLOWE: Yoko Ono, a creature of the circus

The majority of us here at gaycondo think Yoko Ono was the best thing that ever happened to John Lennon. With her inspiration he pushed his own artistic and political boundaries. Many Beatles fans have often cursed her for his behavior after the original fab 4 lineup broke.

Last night at an intimate outdoor video projection I watch a bit of the Rolling Stones Rock N Roll Circus 1968 DVD. After witnessing some of my favorite psych-garage sausage fest plus one heavily sedated lady folk singer, John Lennon took the stage with Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton to play a few tunes. I saw Yoko wandering around in the footage and really hoped she would come on. I vocalized this to my friends, some agreed that Yoko Ono was a revolutionary for her time, others had seen the footage before.

Right before the band’s second jam rolled out Yoko Ono stepped out on stage, hair awry and I get excited! For those who hadn’t understood Yoko’s brilliance they would soon be enlightened. However, instead of some of the catchy mantras of her later solo work, Yoko Ono basically screams, yelps and cries wordless nonsense into the microphone. Those around me who hadn’t been informed on her later works didn’t seem too thrilled.

Apparently, the only video from this scene on YouTube was put up by someone who was also unimpressed by Yoko’s performance and felt the need to put distasteful, border line racist captions on top of the video:

Though the song was beginning to split even my Yoko-worshipping ears, I still feel the performance was bold and revolutionary. This is 1968 people. Songs of love and anti war ballads. Plus the whole scene is full of dudes, being idolized as emaciated rock n roll stars. Yoko’s bold performance in wailing a load of nonsense was certainly revolutionary for a woman – especially the female companion of the world’s most popular rock star – at that time.

I’m not quite sure of her motives but here is how I interpreted it: The guys are playing this typical, white-guy blues wank over and over. Instead of doing the classic vocal lines to accompany this straight forward jam she decides to just scream endlessly over it. Or perhaps, her performance was artistic commentary on how a woman shout be able to act as crazy, provocative and animalistic as the men in the scene. Whatever her intention, it surely riled people up.


1 Response to “KEEP IT ON THE BROWNLOWE: Yoko Ono, a creature of the circus”

  1. 1 The Bearded Traveler
    July 12, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    I have some interest in Yoko; probably more as a visual artist, and some of her creative ideas in books like Grapefruit (fairly Laurie-Anderson-ish). I know a fair amount of her music, though… I dare to say- more than most people. Two things I feel strongly:

    1. Yoko Ono: Plastic Ono Band is as good as or better than Can’s Tago Mago at creating good grooves. Granted, that’s mostly Klaus Voorman and Ringo, and Tago Mago is not one of my faves at all anyway (I like Can just… not ALL Can)… but it is HER Plastic Ono album. She curated it, and, like Mark E Smith, she must’ve had some say in how the grooves got going.

    2. The two songs she did on Cavett’s show, “Mrs. Lennon” and “What’s the Use?” are better imho than John’s songs on said TV show (“Woman Is the Nigger of the World” and I forget what else). (I hope I don’t have Cavett and Mike Douglas mixed up, but I doubt I do.)(There are cute Cavett appearances in this video- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Re0WvjyRhM It’s not the “official” video, but it’s similar and I think it’s better.)

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