by Yoko Ono
“Fly” is the latest track of the record but it has been made the first just when my last album was finished and was out in the street. It was made in our bedroom in the Regency Hotel in New York on Xmas 1970 on a Nagra operated by John. I was thinking that I must make a soundtrack for my film FLY which was just near completion. The John suggested maybe we should knock it off before the 10 o’clock news that night. It was that casual. We did it in one take, as most of my things are done.
I don’t believe in doing things over. When I was painting one day it suddenly occurred to me that there is no line that you can go over. if you go over a line, the line that you went over is a totally new line.
When you use the correctocopy to correct typing mistakes, you don’t go over the wrong letters with the right letters. With the correctosheet you have to first go over the same line again with the exact wrong letter you typed before. Only then you can erase the mistakes and type over the correct letter. I’m always fascinated by this seemingly illogical fact.
It looks like there is some philosophical connection between these stories but I don’t seem to be able to find the word for it now. But the point is I don’t believe in doing things over, and unless it is a really bad take, I believe in the first take.
Another story: This is about a Japanese painter who was asked by his lord to do a painting. The lord waited a year and nothing has come of it. He sent a messenger to the painter. The painter came out and said “Oh, o.k., just a minute” or something and did a one stroke painting while the messenger was waiting in the next room. The messenger returned the painting and told the lord what had happened. The lord was very angry and arrested the painter. “You insulted me by making me wait for a whole year for the painting and on top of that, you used only a second to finish the painting. What was that!” something to that effect. The painter calmly replied, :Every day of the year that I was not painting, I was preparing for the painting, the painting may have been one stroke and it may have taken only a second to do it, but the whole year of pain and joy were in that stroke. The year was a necessary time.”
I used to do things like fast five days before a concert to prepare my mind for the performance-because the performance was not my skill but the state of mind I was in at the time. Whenever I pick up a mike, I’m aware that every minute if 38 years goes into it, whether I like it or not.
What I did in “Fly” was what I wanted to do for 10 years, so I was very satisfied when I did it. I thought of making an album around this piece. It took almost a whole year after that to finally complete the album, though. Another Xmas is coming very soon. The winter is cold and tough-and you have to crawl a long way before you fly. Winter is age. Cold makes you go slow. Fly I a monologue in three stages.
Section one- monologue
Section two- monologue in a dialogue form:
John played his guitar against the playback
of my voice from section one. The guitar
tape was then reversed and put together
with my voice tape, so that the voice and the
guitar ran in two opposite directions as sepa-
Section three- monologue in a trialogue form: John played
his guitar against the reversed playback of
tape section two. John’s guitar tape made in
this process was reversed and played while I
did my voice. When the guitar tape was over
and when my voice was still going, John
played the radio against my voice.
Monologue is a reminiscence of my old days. I used to search for musi-
cians who had the same state as I to make musical dialogues with. But I had never met who can really do that with me on the level that I was thinking of. Female artists for some reason, didn’t have enough experience in expressing themselves with instruments-maybe they went for for usage of a more direct instrument which was one’s own body-and the male artists used to be caught in whatever brilliance they had possessed and were not free. So I ended up always in doing a dialogue. John is the first person I met who knows how to be free, and that is why he plays such a very important role in all my pieces. For instance, you see that section 3 of Fly is a guitar solo with voice accompaniment rather than the other way around.
Most of the pieces in this album are centred around a dialogue between my voice and John’s guitar. John and I crawl, roll, and fly together. John brought in musicians that are fine samurais. John, as a rhythm guitarist, leads the rhythm track, he pushes them to fly with me. Listen to Ringo and Jim Keltner’s drumming. Klaus Voormann’s bass, Chris Osborne’s guitar and listen to the intricate conversation that goes between all of us in “Mind Train”. Chris Osborne came from a guitar shop to sell a guitar to John. He stayed and played.
Thanks to John and the Plastic Ono Band. Thanks to Yoko’s wisdom for allowing it to happen-rather than controlling note by note, to push her ego. Maybe she is a bit too proud about it, but let’s not be too hard on her.
Note on Joe Jones Tone Deaf Music Co.
I was always fascinated by the idea of making special instruments for special emotions-instruments that lead us to emotions arrived by their own motions rather than my our control. With those instruments, I wanted to explore emotions and vibration which have not been explored as yet in music. I thought of building a house on the hill which makes different sounds by the wind that goes through different windows, doors and holes. (Re: Grapefruit: paperback edition out now!!!) Ten years ago I met Joe Jones who’s been making such instruments specially for this album which can play by themselves with minimum manipulation (Turning switches only.)
I’m very happy about what happened with “Airmale” and “You” as a result of my session with Tone Deaf Co. “Airmale” in Yang and “You” is Yin. “Don’t Count The Waves” is the water that connects the two Ying and Yang islands. “Airmale” expresses the delicateness of Male. “You” expresses the aggressiveness of female. “You” has all the feminine resentment, moan and animal satisfaction in it. Finally, there is just a wind blowing over a sand hill over white dried female bones, but still, with emotion. The wind created by tape feedback is what I always wanted to do a rock number with a tape loop of feedback as a riff. But this will do for now.
When I was in Sarah Lawrence, which was before I joined the avant-garde, and in London around 1967-8, which was when I was feeling very miserable, I composed many songs. “Mrs. Lennon” is that category of songs, but unlike “Remember Love” and “Who has seen the Wind”, I felt it was recorded very well. “Mrs Lennon” was meant to be a joke on me, and also an anti-war song. The lyrics were made in 1969 and the music was finished this month in New York during the recording sessions.
“Midsummer New York” is about the deep insecurity I have in me that I associate with my life in New York before I met John. The lyrics were made last year, though I always wanted to make a song that uses the word “shaking” with a double meaning, since I discovered the usage of the word in rock songs in 1968.
This album roughly turned out to be:
1st and 2nd sides: Songs to dance to-Rock and songs with physical
3rd and 4th sides: Songs to listen to-mind music with mind beat
The Mind Music Section has number connectio0ns.
“Fly”-1,2 and 3
“Don’t Count The Waves”-7
It is very important to know about numbers to understand the connections of the pieces, so I will quote the relevant lines form my writing called “On Number” and end this long introduction to the album.
One is an immobile number. One is found in our bodies often as fixed
parts. We count ourselves as one but it might be better to count as
half a pair or a half when you think of the fact that our reproductive
organs can only function by meeting the other half.
One step is only half a move. Since we have two legs we have to take
two steps or jump in order to move form one position to the next.
One is before the cell splits in tow. It is only mobile in the process of
becoming two. One as a force is a point-which does not extend like
a line. One constantly seeks for states of zero and two.
Two is a state that is mobile by nature. Like the footstep that goes
one, two. It moves from one position to the next. Two as a force is a
line. It extends and extends and unlike one, does not have to move to
become mobile. Two is a state after splitting of the cell. Two constant-
ly seeks for the state of one and three. We find two in our bodies
quite often as a pair. Two is our heartbeat. After one and two, all the
numbers are combinations of one and two. Therefore, there are actu-
ally only three basic states of numbers in the world: one, two and
three, which is a combination of one and two.
Three is a number we cannot find in our bodies but we find it in na-
ture around us. I call it a time number because we use it to divide time
and the days. When the heart beats in three, it is when the heart is
moving faster that what is natural. The heart beats one, two, one,
two. And one number out of these repetitions of two gets abbreviat-
ed because of the speed. That is three. That means we set the time to
the number which is one beat faster than our natural heartbeat. No
wonder the culture is suffering from accelerated speed. The world will
slow down if you dispense with clocks and watches and just follow
The natural rhythm, when you don’t check or control consciously,
always goes slower (towards four) or faster (towards two) than a
clock. Three is very fast and very mobile. It is running rhythm as op-
posed to the walking rhythm of two, four and eight. Three as a force
is a three dimensional point-an exclamation mark. Three will always
seek for state of two or state of four. In three, two (which is a mobile
number) and one (which is an immobile number) exist together equal-
ly. Paradox makes three extremely active towards inside, but not very
active outside. While two is a travelling number, three is a whirling
number (it moves forward spirally). After three, all numbers are com-
binations of states of one, two and three.
Five is a number that very rarely exists on earth but exists very much in
the sky (such as points of stars-but you know that even the five
points of stars actually do not exist.) Unlike one (0 & 2), TWO (4 & 8)
and three (6 & 9), five has no corresponding numbers in the series. In
this sense it is very similar to 7
In our bodies, it exists only on our hands and feet-as if that is the
sign from the sky in us. The parts of our bodies where 5 exist are the
only parts that have something to do with our physical connections to
things outside our bodies. Our hands reach to other things and our
feet take us to other places with the help of a travelling number 2.
5 is a connection number-and just as the fingers do not work unless
the thumb moves in an opposite direction from the rest of the fingers,
five will be immobile unless it has different or opposite elements
(one, two, and three) in it.
Seven is a conceptual number. Seven, like five, is a number you cannot
find in our bodies (more so than five), or in the nature around us. I call
it a conceptual number or number of music because we divide the mu-
sical scale into seven. (In time we can only see it in the division of the
week), and like five, it has no corresponding numbers.
Nine is a corresponding number of 3 and 6. Nine is superactive.
Spatially, it is the closest of the numbers to circle. As a force it has a
spirally forward movement as does three.
But despite all the work, music itself exists somewhere else and was
made by pure instinct (that goes for me, too J.L) and nothing else.
Flashes of imagery and emotions.
St. Regis Hotel, New York