Part­ing Shot Yoko Ono

Newsweek International - - NEWSWEEK - —Zach Schon­feld

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 fill in for Len­non] 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.

“Trump’s the wrong per­son at this time. But any­body in the world can change, so let’s see.”

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