With Love, Yoko
BY Graham Kolbeins
March 19 2009 12:00 AM ET
You wouldn't think
it'd be this way, but the seemingly simple concepts of
peace, love, and equality have often been viewed as ridiculous,
radical, even dangerous ideas. It hasn't always made her
popular, but Yoko Ono has been championing these causes for
more than five decades, interweaving her convictions into
groundbreaking conceptual art and an awe-inspiring body of
music. Ranging from enigmatic free-jazz abstraction to deeply
personal pop music about feminism, loss, and cultural identity,
Ono's music is widely varied -- never safe or
At 76, the iconic peace
activist, artist, and widow of John Lennon is still blazing
trails with dance music that resonates with a much younger
generation, in spite of an increasingly complex and
ever-shifting popular culture.
After lifting a
longtime embargo on the remixing of her music, Ono scored a
number 1 hit on the Billboard dance chart in 2004 with
"Everymanâ€¦Everywoman" Reworking her classic song about
relationships "Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves
Him," the new version expressed Ono's solidarity with
the marriage-equality cause in the wake of San Francisco mayor
Gavin Newsom's law-defying same-sex marriages.
Next came a pair of
highly successful remix albums:
Open Your Box
Yes, I'm a Witch, which featured collaborations with a variety of artists
including queer favorites Antony Hegarty, Le Tigre, and Pet
Ono's latest project is
a series of download-only remixes of the classic Plastic Ono
Band anthem "Give Peace a Chance." The first installment in
the series landed Ono her fourth number 1 dance hit of
the decade, and the latest batch includes new takes on the song
from Brazilian indie rockers CSS, Death in Vegas frontman
Richard Fearless, and her "Everymanâ€¦Everywoman"
Not bad for a
septuagenarian. Add to that the fact that she has more
than 10,000 friends on Twitter -- how many 76-year-olds even
know what Twitter is? Ono graciously took time out of her full
schedule for an e-mail Q&A with Advocate.com.
Advocate.com: How did the process work for the "Give Peace a Chance"
remixes? Did you collaborate with the artists directly, or did
they each take the creative reins on their version of the
I gave up my control. That was what made each song so creative
and exciting. Trust in the power within all of us.
Are you continuing to write music in your spare time? Do you
plan on releasing an album of all-new material in the near
Yes. I will be in the studio this year. Let's see what
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