Yoko Ono

a blueprint for the sunrise

Written by Ian Hammond in 2001

YES: Yoko Ono. My local book store called last Saturday to say they had something I'd definitely be interested in: YES Yoko Ono, a 350 page tome almost the size of the Beatles Anthology. I picked it up today, but not before Peter had the beautiful cover transparently wrapped for protection. It's one of those books that is so well made that you find yourself turning the pages very gently.

Five years in the making, the book was designed to accompany a major exhibition of Ono's work in New York, sponsored by the Japan Society which has been "fostering a more enlightened relations between Japan and the United States" for the past century. It's a massive work, achieved with the full cooperation of Yoko Ono and in particular by Sam Havadtoy whose "dedication to Yoko Ono's art is the mainstay of YES". In one sense it's a companion piece to John Lennon; Drawings; Performances; Films which accompanied an exhibition of his work in Bremen recently. It likewise begins with some short articles, then catalogues the works in various categories, concluding with tabular information.

A little more detail of Yoko Ono's early musical education is provided. She took piano lessons until she was fourteen and then swapped to singing lessons until age nineteen. The influence of Asian philosophy and thinkers on modernism is explored in more detail, in particular the affect of Suzuki's early 1950's lectures at Columbia University and the link with "Suzuki's disciple John Cage". Clearly, Ono was well placed for an East-West period. Ono met Cage at one of Suzuki's lectures and participated in some of his pieces.

Many early documents are included, including the program of her Carnegie Hall Recital. Other articles include a piece by Jann Wenner. The bulk of the book is taken up by the catalogue of her works, which are discussed in great detail. The book concludes with a detailed chronology.

In fact, the book really concludes with an enclosed bonus CD with four pieces. I put the CD on absent mindedly: I haven't been a great listener of Yoko Ono in recent years, preferring her earlier non-pop work. I was pleasantly surprised and immediately aware that this was an update on the kind of thing she did on her debut album in 1970. In fact, I was fascinated. Here's a brief record of my immediate impressions.

 

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Yes Yoko Ono

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