Five Minutes With… Yoko Ono

16 October, 2018 in Interviews, Songwriting Magazine Autumn 2018

Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono on Imagine: “We are telling the truth”

Peace activist, artist provocateur, Beatle wife… Songwriter? In our latest edition, we enjoy a quick chat with this iconic figure

It might surprise some to learn that Yoko Ono has made 20 albums over the last 50 years, a sizeable body of work which deserves consideration in its own right. Thankfully her new album Warzone provides listeners with an opportunity to do just that. Spanning her catalogue from 1970 – 2009, Ono has reworked and reimagined 13 of her songs, stripping them back to showcase her voice and lyrics. Tracks like the surprise dance hit Hell In Paradise sit alongside the John Lennon classic Imagine (a song he admitted was a co-write with his wife) and make a genuine case for a reappraisal of her songwriting credentials. We recently had a quick chat with her…

Where did the idea for this album come from?

“It was one of those inspirations. It was a practical thing to do. I wanted to make sure the words will be simple and get out there right away.”

Was it easy to select the songs for Warzone, how did you go about that process?

“I trusted in my inspiration to select the songs.”

Were there songs that you wanted to include but decided didn’t quite fit, or missed out for another reason?

“It’s a 13 song album, and it was better to stay that way. There are two songs I really wanted to include, which were Winter Friend and She Gets Down On Her Knees, but I decided not to because it was very important that the album comes out right away.”

This process must have brought back many memories for you – are there specific things that you had forgotten which you were able to revisit?

“These are not old songs. They are songs that lived in my heart.”

The production is noticeably stripped back – what was the reason behind that decision and how has that changed these songs?

“That was done because I wanted this to come out right away, so Winter Friend and She Gets Down On Her Knees, I thought were very good, but they were too complicated for a simpler arrangement. I chose the ones that can be sung by very young people, all people.”

The album closes with Imagine, what can you remember about its writing and creation?

“That was the most difficult one, but I thought that it should be put in there. For both John and I, it was a very simple song to perform as performers. The spirit of the song was most important.”

Why do you think it grabbed the world’s attention and has remained such an influential song?

“Because we are telling the truth…”

Read the rest of this interview with Yoko, along with more artist interviews, news, tips, reviews and gear in Songwriting Magazine Autumn 2018 > >

Interview: Duncan Haskell