Time Out Chicago

Music – Fall Preview 2009 – Yoko Ono

During the Beatles media blitz, take time to reconsider the genius of Ono.
By Brent DiCrescenzo, Time Out Chicago

WHAT Ono’s new album, Between My Head and the Sky
WHEN In stores Sept 22

In September, spruced-up Beatles reissues and a video game will storm stores. Oh, and more quietly (quite literally, considering her past scream-fests), Yoko Ono will release a record. After years of knee-jerk scorn, people have finally started to recognize the importance and chutzpah of Ono’s cool, challenging discography. Never one to jibe with expectations, she’s naturally made her giddiest, cuddliest record ever.

Time Out Chicago: Why revive the Plastic Ono Band name after 34 years?
Yoko Ono:
John coined the term for me. I have so many sentiments about it, but actually I wasn’t thinking about it. My Japanese band begged me to do it.

TOC: How did you hook up with those musicians?
Yoko Ono:
Sean [Lennon] was the music director. The core people asked me to come to Japan to do a concert. He said, “Mommy, please, I want you to join, too.” For one night I’m going to go to Japan? I said, Well, it’s my son’s thing, so I’d better do it. I’m one of those people who’s very arrogant about my own music. I thought, Well, they might mess it up. I was used to Western musicians and they have a different kind of sensibility. But it’s the future of rock & roll.

TOC: The album slowly grows quieter. It reminded me of aging.
Yoko Ono:
I didn’t feel that way. I never think of my age. Each song has intensity and depth. I think it’s just mellowed out.

TOC: You also slip into Japanese near the end.
Yoko Ono:
Isn’t that amazing? The past decade I was going to Japan every year. All these Japanese words came out. At one point I was dreaming in Japanese. When those songs came out of me, I thought I certainly shouldn’t translate that.

TOC: You recently received a lifetime achievement award in England.
Yoko Ono:
I was so surprised. I have been attacked for…a few decades, shall we say.

TOC: But people are rediscovering your work. You can hear the influence in bands like Deerhoof and Ponytail. Do you keep up with new music?
Yoko Ono:
I don’t know Ponytail, but it must be a great band if they love me! Just joking! I’m trying to keep up. Mainly because I was always like that. But I’m busy with so many things, I usually just listen to the sound in my head. That’s why I named the album Between My Head and the Sky, because that’s where I live.

TOC: Have you played The Beatles: Rock Band?
Yoko Ono:
John would have loved it. John and I were always very much into new media. We just had to do this one, it’s great. It’s educational. It’s going to change the world.