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For those who have no problem with Yoko Ono

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Thanks, interesting article.

I'd always dismissed Ono as a "Fluxus" artist, a movement for which I don't have much time, but the actual history seems more complicated and more to her credit.

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Yoko Ono would be the perfect choice for a torture chamber soundtrack.

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Posted (edited)

About 10-15 years ago I flirted with trying to find her 1972 double LP Approximately Infinite Universe (originally a double LP) on cd, but never could find one cheap enough — and then I moved on to other things (and never got one).

Not sure which tracks I liked best back then (from my online sampling), but these were the A-sides of the two singles from the album…

 

But hearing them again now as I’m posting this, I think there were other, more up-tempo tunes that were the draw for me.

I’ll have to revisit the album via streaming, and see if I can remember what was grabbing me.

She had an experimental artistic vision (maybe multiple ones), and I can respect that.

I think there was a multi-disc ‘career overview’ box set — and I can try and see what other tracks from AIU were included there.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Posted (edited)

I see that the signed copy of her ‘starkers cover’ double LP with John Lennon which was in John Peel’s archive has just sold at the Bonhams auction for over £15,000 !

Edited by sidewinder

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Thanks for posting this, good article. I'm aways very happy to recognise her worth as an artist before, with and after her time with Lennon. I enjoyed the Serpentine show.

The Beatles don't mean too much to me so never understood the backlash she experienced. 

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Her MoMA retrospective was rad. She is important as is/was Fluxus -- it's fine not to be into it, but the movement and the art/performances/ideas were groundbreaking at the time. I like her music too and as a way to disseminate experimental art practices to the people, she found a way that was more successful than most. It was very moving to hear her speak at Ornette's funeral.

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I’ve liked some things of hers: the Don’t Worry Kyoko b-side of Cold Turkey, and side two of the live Toronto LP.  I also have a hardcover edition of Grapefruit.  She was on much shakier ground (thin ice?) with basic song structure that required her to sing; those attempts I found painful to listen to.  How many people bought Double Fantasy and picked up the tonearm to only listen to tracks 1, 3, 5, etc.?  Inflicting her songs on those who desperately wanted to hear John’s was just cruel.  Indeed, it’s a dilettante who thinks she can sing to the masses without first putting in her musical dues and care about what the audience wants to hear. 

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Having Ornette's quartet back you (on one track) perhaps counts for something.

But actually I do find myself enjoying some of her songs on Double Fantasy.  Here they are considerably less avant garde than what she usually did.

 

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I think she gets a bad rap, overall. The same type of cultural knee-jerk myopia that led to the "Disco sucks" movement.

Which is not to say that she's nothing but a "misunderstood genius", far from it. Just that she's not the totally culture-vulturing bullshitter that has been laid on her for as long as I can remember.

Just for grits and shiggles, check this out for, possibly, a bit of context:

v600_SF115-promo-cover.jpg

Yoko sounds like freaking Sarah Fitzgerald Clooney compared to some of this stuff!

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I can remember - 40 years ago - couples dancing to Yoko Ono's song "Kiss Kiss Kiss"

 

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Actually, she was just a rich kid, acting privileged.  Kinda like the Paris Hilton of her day.  Hilton's a great DJ, dontcha know?

From Wikipedia: Ono was born on February 18, 1933, in Tokyo City, to Isoko Ono (小野 磯子Ono Isoko) (1911-1999)[15] and Eisuke Ono (小野 英輔Ono Eisuke), a wealthy banker and former classical pianist.[16] Isoko's maternal grandfather Zenjiro Yasuda (安田 善次郎Yasuda Zenjirō) was an affiliate of the Yasuda clan and zaibatsu.

Yasuda zaibatsu, also from Wikipedia: Yasuda zaibatsu (安田財閥) was a financial conglomerate owned and managed by the Yasuda clan. One of the four major zaibatsu of Imperial Japan, it was founded by the entrepreneur Yasuda Zenjirō. It was dissolved at the end of World War II.

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Oh, are we wealth-shaming now?

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13 minutes ago, mjzee said:

Actually, she was just a rich kid, acting privileged.  Kinda like the Paris Hilton of her day.  Hilton's a great DJ, dontcha know?

From Wikipedia: Ono was born on February 18, 1933, in Tokyo City, to Isoko Ono (小野 磯子Ono Isoko) (1911-1999)[15] and Eisuke Ono (小野 英輔Ono Eisuke), a wealthy banker and former classical pianist.[16] Isoko's maternal grandfather Zenjiro Yasuda (安田 善次郎Yasuda Zenjirō) was an affiliate of the Yasuda clan and zaibatsu.

Yasuda zaibatsu, also from Wikipedia: Yasuda zaibatsu (安田財閥) was a financial conglomerate owned and managed by the Yasuda clan. One of the four major zaibatsu of Imperial Japan, it was founded by the entrepreneur Yasuda Zenjirō. It was dissolved at the end of World War II.

What's the wealth of her family got to do with her artistic talent or worth? 

Surely we're not insisting on the old poverty stricken artist in a garret equals proper art trope are we?

Apart from anything the article talks about how she reacted to the wealth and status of her family 

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it's the "just a rich kid, acting privileged" that's a disqualifier for me.

A rich kid, sure. She had money and she was young. So, that's a given.

But many artists act "priviliged", because they think that their "art" is something the world needs to experience.

So "just" stops the consideration with "rich", and really, that's just silly.

Hell, many of today's "jazz musicians" are ensconced in NYC proper due to some kind of wealth, be it inherited or, gasp, actually earned. and some of them can actually play!

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14 minutes ago, JSngry said:

it's the "just a rich kid, acting privileged" that's a disqualifier for me.

A rich kid, sure. She had money and she was young. So, that's a given.

But many artists act "priviliged", because they think that their "art" is something the world needs to experience.

So "just" stops the consideration with "rich", and really, that's just silly.

Hell, many of today's "jazz musicians" are ensconced in NYC proper due to some kind of wealth, be it inherited or, gasp, actually earned. and some of them can actually play!

When I lived in NYC and environs I heard many comments / jokes to the effect that numerous off-off-Broadway "starving actors" and playwrights were actually "trust fund babies". I've always assumed it's not uncommon in the arts. 

To the extent I "judge" such people, it's on the basis of my opinion about their art. However, one of the reasons I'm skeptical about Fluxus is that some Fluxus musical works struck me as kinda self-indulgent (e.g. Dick Higgins firing a gun through a sheaf of music paper and playing the resultant notes), and I suspected many in the movement of being wealthy kids acting out. But the linked article profiled George Maciunas and mentioned that he had no money, so my suspicions may have been unwarranted. Nevertheless, I'm not yet sufficiently motivated to read histories of Fluxus.

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Posted (edited)

aside from Yoko, who I have mixed feelings about (if I have to hear her again, screaming along with Lennon on some old clips, I may need to react in some non-rational way), the vast majority of musicians I have known came from average backgrounds of no particular privilege. As for Fluxus, I need to do more homework, but my general sense of modernist movements like it is that they made their point, which was potentially radically altering, and then should have moved on into using those ideas in expanding ways. Instead they, like much free jazz that I hear today, got caught up in repetition and cliche.

My biggest complaint about Yoyo is that she convinced Lennon he was a genius, in the most self conscious way, and from then on it was all down hill for his work. It's like with Dylan and Lou Reed: convince someone that they are a genius and they conclude that anything they produce is a work of genius. The result is largely mediocre work and worse. Lennon became an artiste, and it was a disaster.

Edited by AllenLowe

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1 hour ago, T.D. said:

... Dick Higgins firing a gun through a sheaf of music paper and playing the resultant notes...

I mean, that's a cool thing to think about, and an even cooler thing to do once, but as "art", it's really the ultimate in "pop" - it feels good for a minute while you do it and then its over, after which, who cares? Who's going to do THAT again? But, you know, somebody will, especially if "concept" is all they got in their pocket.

I love pop, but not when the celebration of the immediate is seen as an imperative for it to become permanent.

Time sorts most of it out, but sometimes good stuff gets snuffed out due to inattention, attention that might have been better directed to more than the most immediate heat-seeking missile.

"15 minutes of fame"...that's like Satan telling you that you can have anything you want, it tends to result in bad choices being made that seem SUPER in the short term.

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On 6/17/2022 at 2:41 PM, mjzee said:

 Wikipedia: Ono was born on February 18, 1933, in Tokyo City, to Isoko Ono (小野 磯子Ono Isoko) (1911-1999)[15] and Eisuke Ono (小野 英輔Ono Eisuke), a wealthy banker and former classical pianist.[16] Isoko's maternal grandfather Zenjiro Yasuda (安田 善次郎Yasuda Zenjirō) was an affiliate of the Yasuda clan and zaibatsu.

Yasuda zaibatsu, also from Wikipedia: Yasuda zaibatsu (安田財閥) was a financial conglomerate owned and managed by the Yasuda clan. One of the four major zaibatsu of Imperial Japan, it was founded by the entrepreneur Yasuda Zenjirō. It was dissolved at the end of World War II.

Great info. :tup

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On 6/17/2022 at 4:20 PM, mjazzg said:

The Beatles don't mean too much to me so never understood the backlash she experienced.

That's exactly how I see it. I was always more of a Stones fan. Though I liked the Beatles too.

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On 26.6.2022 at 11:29 PM, Bluesnik said:

That's exactly how I see it. I was always more of a Stones fan. Though I liked the Beatles too.

As 1959 born maybe I was too young for the Beatles movement, at least those who were a few years older than me told me that. 

I have read somewhere that Ornette Coleman once recorded with Yoko Ono, I hadn´t known until then that she also makes music. 
From hearing stuff people told I always concluded she might be that tough woman that somehow became a cliché - difficult to handle artists under the firm guide of a tough lady, , like maybe Keiko the wife of Elvin Jones, like Buttercup for Bud, like maybe Maxine Gregg to Woody Shaw and later Dexter Gordon, same story. 

I didn´t have the same background as many who was a few years older than me who started with Beatles and Stones and later became interested in jazz. In my case I´d listen to easy hit parade stuff of early 70´s (Austro-Pop) what was on radio, hits and shlager´s and once by coincidence I heard "Milestones" by Miles Davis on Radio and I was "hooked"  forever.....

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On 6/17/2022 at 5:57 PM, mjzee said:

  Indeed, it’s a dilettante who thinks she can sing to the masses without first putting in her musical dues and care about what the audience wants to hear. 

If you make that a requirement (replacing "singing" with "playing"), I will have to get rid of 97% of my record collection.

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On 6/28/2022 at 2:18 AM, Gheorghe said:

As 1959 born maybe I was too young for the Beatles movement, at least those who were a few years older than me told me that. 

I have read somewhere that Ornette Coleman once recorded with Yoko Ono, I hadn´t known until then that she also makes music. 
From hearing stuff people told I always concluded she might be that tough woman that somehow became a cliché - difficult to handle artists under the firm guide of a tough lady, , like maybe Keiko the wife of Elvin Jones, like Buttercup for Bud, like maybe Maxine Gregg to Woody Shaw and later Dexter Gordon, same story. 

 

Ornette's group is on Yoko's first Plastic Ono Band record. She also recorded with John Stevens and John Tchicai. Yoko gave a eulogy at Ornette's public funeral and it was very moving.

As a "movement" or, rather, a collection of artists, Fluxus was quite diverse in terms of practice and had ties to the Judson dance circle and significant early figures in post-minimal and conceptual art. Charlotte Moorman is someone you should also read about if you want to learn more about that time period in New York and the work that was produced.

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