Although Yoko Ono is better known as the widow of The Beatles’ John Lennon than a musician, she still continues to release new music at the impressive age of 82.
To celebrate her birthday, she released two new 10-inch vinyl singles. These are both duets – the first is I Love You, Earth featuring Antony, which was actually his song was originally released in 1985 on Ono’s album Starpeace. You can listen to this to this beautifully composed track here.
The second duet, featuring the strange, scary and exellent John Zorn, is an improvisation called Blink, which was originally performed on WNYC in 2012. You can see them performing this at The Greene Space below.
Ono has been criticised and ridiculed for her singing style for decades. So, she finally decided to stand up for herself. Along with the singles, she wrote and released an open letter entitled Don’t stop me!
This letter addresses those who have made fun of the way she has sung or performed in the past. They have basically told her what kind of artist she should be. She says, “Let me be free. Let me be me! Don’t make me old, with your thinking and words about how I should be. You don’t have to come to my shows. I am giving tremendous energy with my voice, because that is me. Get my energy or shut up.”
Here’s our opinion on this issue. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right for everyone. No one should ever be told how they should do or who they should be. You are what you are. For musicians, music is their outlet of communication. They are conveying a message in their own unique way. By asking them to change that, you are silencing their creativity. That is not okay.
You can read Ono’s kick-ass letter in full below:
DON’T STOP ME!
At my age I should be in a certain way. Please don’t stop me being the way I am. I don’t want to be old and sick like many others of my age. Please don’t create another old person.
So even when I am rocking on the stage, they are totally hard on me. They demand the musical standard of a classic musician and attack me for the rhythm or some notes which are not precisely in tune. I am not concerned with what my voice is doing. If I was, what you experience would not be. My voice will be dead, once I am concerned about it, in the way you are asking me to. Go to a classical concert, if you want to hear a “trained” voice. What I escaped from when I was very, very young. I created my own niche. If I tried to present you classic music it won’t be what I created. You don’t get that way, with Iggy for instance, a grand rocker, who is creating his own brand of Rock, just as I am.
Let me be free. Let me be me! Don’t make me old, with your thinking and words about how I should be. You don’t have to come to my shows. I am giving tremendous energy with my voice, because that is me. Get my energy or shut up.
A critic of my show I did on my 80th birthday. You wanted me to be coming in at the same time on the top of the bars with the tracks. Well, I like to syncopate my voice to come in before or after the music notes, not right on top of the tracks, you see. That’s done in classical music, also. Remember? Yes. I don’t mind using what I learnt from classical music.
Just let me be free, so music will come out as my voice in the way it wants. Otherwise, it will not be beautiful. My music is unworldlily beautiful. It is a mixture of all the generations I went through on this planet: when I was born seeing the world with wonderment, when I was a wise infant, full of original ideas with not too much intimidation yet, when I was a energetic and rebellious teenager, when i was a sexy twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies and now. Plus all the folk music of the world, the Voice of people, never intimidated – and plus some music coming from another planet or planets! I respect that, cherish it, and am always thankful of note by note that comes in me and out of me.
Another criticism: That my short pants in my video BAD DANCER was very short. Was that bad? You are not criticizing other danacers whose pants are worn short. Do you have a separate standard for a person of my age even in the way our outfits are cut?
I am afraid of just one thing. That those ageism criticism will finally influence me, I would succumb to it and get old. So I am covering my ears not to listen to you guys! Because dancing in the middle of an ageism society is a lonely trip. Don’t stone me! Let me be! Love me plenty for what I am!