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Yoko Ono sought out Pitchfork festival appearance.

There are only a handful of artists that I would really really love to see in concert.  No, I was not Beatle aware when Yoko Ono treked across the world with her fabled Starpeace tour many years ago.  I would be more than curious to see Yoko Ono perform.  Those chances seem ever more fleeting as years pass on.  I was surprised to see that Yoko, the indie-hipster queen was performing at the Pitchfork festival.

I would have thought that Yoko would be doing some art thing for peace.  I couldn’t imagine doing a gig at her age.  That’s too cool.  I guess those indie kids have prompted a resurgence in all things Yoko.  It’s good to see her out and about with some friends and some new music in tow.  If any of you guys are going to the Pitchfork festival, please keep us informed with your reports.  We would love to see some pictures too.  The festival will take place at Chicago’s Union Park during July 13th-15th

Here’s what we’ve read.

While Yoko Ono periodically has continued to make music in the nearly 27 years since she lost her husband and collaborator John Lennon, live performances have been few and far between. But the artist’s headlining slot at the Pitchfork Music Festival next Saturday will be special for another reason besides the infrequency of her shows.

Ono’s most successful song as a solo artist is about an incident involving a friend and Lake Michigan. “A song that I wrote called ‘Walking on Thin Ice’ was inspired by Chicago, of course,” the 74-year-old artist said during a recent interview from her office in New York. The lyrics: “I knew a girl who tried to walk across the lake / ‘course it was winter when all this was ice / That’s a hell of a thing to do, you know / They say the lake is as big as the ocean / I wonder if she knew about it?”

Arguably the most haunting song in Ono’s catalog, the prescient musing about the fragility of life will always resonate even more because it was the tune that she and Lennon were working on in the recording studio only minutes before they returned to the Dakota on the night of Dec. 8, 1980, when Lennon was gunned down by a deranged fan.

A few days before we spoke, Ono had traveled to Las Vegas to attend the first-year anniversary performance of the much-ballyhooed “Love,” the Cirque du Soleil production based on modern remixes and mash-ups of Beatles classics. That night turned into a family reunion when Ono exchanged pleasantries with her husband’s surviving bandmates, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and George Harrison’s widow Olivia.

But Ono always has been reluctant to live in the past. As an underground artist and dedicated futurist, she long has pushed the envelope for what can be considered rock ‘n’ roll. Now, after years of being ignored by the mainstream and derided by Beatles fans, her work is being embraced by cutting-edge musicians in the electronic dance and noise-rock undergrounds, many of whom weren’t even born when she and Lennon met in 1966.

Released last February, “Yes, I’m a Witch” is a collection of remixes of Ono songs by artists such as Peaches, Le Tigre, Porcupine Tree, DJ Spooky, the Apples in Stereo and the Flaming Lips. It’s a fitting companion to the recently issued “Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur,” which features two discs of artists covering songs by Lennon. Some bring a new perspective to the originals (R.E.M., Green Day, the Flaming Lips), while others fall flat (Christina Aguilera, Lenny Kravitz, Jack Johnson). But both albums are still vastly preferable to “Love.”

I asked Ono if there isn’t something a bit insidious about the Beatles nostalgia that continues to reign supreme among the Baby Boom generation — especially in contrast to the younger musicians who’ve been free to discover her music and that of her husband on their own terms, free of rose-colored reminiscences about the Summer of Love.

“I don’t want to be that person who lives in the past,” she said. “Even with Sean, I would never want to say, ‘Oh your mom did that one, your dad did this.’ No, you are your own inspiration, and Sean discovered [our music] on his own. It’s a famous story, but when he was very young, somebody told him, ‘Your dad was a Beatle.’ He came running into the kitchen, saying, ‘Daddy were you a Beatle?’ And John was like, ‘Well … yeah.’ ”

According to Pitchfork promoter Mike Reed, Ono approached the festival after all of the acts had already been booked. She had wanted to perform with her friends Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) and Cat Power (who appears on “Yes, I’m a Witch”) at South by Southwest last March, but organizers there shut down the show because it wasn’t a festival-sanctioned gig. So it’s a safe bet she’ll be joined by Moore and Cat Power here, since they’re both on the Pitchfork lineup.

“I don’t know exactly what I’m going to be doing — I mean, I do know that, yes, there are some things I’m going to be doing with some friends, but I don’t want to say that now, because I think there should be surprises. [In recent years,] I’ve felt more relaxed in the studio. But in the old days, I really loved [live performance]. I’m getting into it again now, and it’s really good to get back into it.”

Ono added that a project like “Yes, I’m a Witch” feels like a vindication, though it hasn’t entirely registered yet. “I feel good that the superstars of the indie scene wanted to do that, and each one of them really did a great job. Because of that, I just feel that it’s time that I should just come out and [perform again], and this will be a great chance to meet some of them.

Yoko Ono performs at the Pitchfork Music Festival at 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are sold out.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times


6 Responses

  1. I think I’ll pass… Anyone on here actually like her music? If so, would you like it were she not married to John Lennon? Just curious.

  2. i wish i could see this. honestly, not because i’m enamored of her music, but to see her as a person, being married to my favorite personn to have ever walked this earth and all. but raj: her music is good, actually, and i would listen to it regardless if she were married to him or not..but she was, i and i am envious of her for that


  4. What’s weird is that if her music was so good, why hasn’t it ever done anything especially considering that she was married to one of the best musicians of all time? Julian Lennon on the other hand was thrust into the spotlight the same way but his music holds up and is played all the time on 80s and 90s radio stations. Her stuff was too avant guard for most I suppose.

    I knew someone who lived near her in NYC and they said she was a controlling and cold individual and only recently has softened to the general public…not that I blame her for trying to keep weird fans away; but I do blame her for keeping Paul, George, and Ringo away from John (or at least trying to).


  6. this soap opera must end now, i am sorry for all the silly posts that i did here. it is all over now. the facts are this: 1. ulla is miss prym. 2. i pretended to be ulla on some posts here. 3. ulla also posted as me, she said all the bad things about him. 4. i posted as awc1967 to embarrass him, most of his posts are me. 5.ulla and awc1967 are only internet friends, but ulla wants more from him, but he is happily married and ulla has to accept that. 6. i was hoping he and i could be internet friends but he and ulla are that., so i will give them their space. 7. we all have sent angry emails to one another, but it has stopped a while back. 8. i am sorry for all this mess and from now on, i will post nice, thank you .

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