in 1968, yoko ono and john lennon shocked beatles fans with the release of their experimental album Two Virgins. Fifty years later, the world is finally catching up with Ono. For decades, she was unfairly blamed for the Fab Four’s breakup, and her avant-garde art and songwriting were dismissed by the press. But that blame has been exposed as rock-world misogyny, and her work, both with and without Lennon, has been embraced by a new generation. Her 1973 album Feeling the Space—chronicling feminist struggles—seems radically prescient today. And her surrealist wisdom has made her a Twitter favorite. In September, the 85-year-old Ono re-created the historic “Bed-in for Peace” that she and Lennon staged in 1969—this time with Ringo Starr, among others. And this month, she is releasing Warzone, featuring new recordings of 13 careerspanning songs. The most familiar will be a sparse rendition of the Lennon hit “Imagine.” In fact, Ono co-created it, and 46 years later she received a co-writing credit. Newsweek sent the artist a list of questions, which she answered by email.
How did it feel to re-create your Bed-in at Manhattan City Hall?
Ringo was exerting warmth, which everyone felt, I’m sure. He was the right person >to ɿll in for /ennon@ because he gave everybody, and me, a laugh as well.
When Donald Trump was elected president, you tweeted an audio snippet of your anguished cries. Has his presidency been as terrifying as you feared?
He’s the wrong person at this time. But anybody in the world can change, so let’s see.
Warzone features numerous songs from your 1985 album, Starpeace.
The concept and themes were inspired by protest against Ronald Reagan’s missile defense program. What made you want to revisit it?
It’s still relevant today, what the songs are saying, and I’m just amazed and appalled.
Your 1973 song “Woman Power” celebrates “the coming age of feminine society.” Could you have imagined the #Metoo movement when you wrote it?
Everything that I write is usually something that will happen much later.
You’ve been a vibrant innovator for more than 50 years. How do you account for that longevity?
I don’t think that’s longevity. I hope I have at least another 50 years. —Zach Schonfeld
“Trump’s the wrong person at this time. But anybody in the world can change, so let’s see.”