Yoko Ono in the 1990sAn Interview with Yoko Ono
Exclusively for Absolute Elsewhere

by ladyjean (Jean Teeters)

An Absolute Elsewhere Exclusive InterviewYoko Ono celebrated her 70th birthday on February 18, 2003, and she shared some thoughts on reaching that milestone, her more positive relationship with the public and the press...and a whole lot more...in this exclusive interview conducted by ladyjean for Absolute Elsewhere.


Jean Teeters: It seems that you are now getting a lot of positive press these days and that that whole thing has really turned around for you.

Yoko Ono: Still there are still some very severe critics around there, too, but in general I think there’s a big turnaround and I’m very excited about that. I’m very thankful about that.

JT: Do you feel that this is something that has been happening gradually since the early eighties, or it is something that has really begun to flower for you over the last few years?

YO: Maybe the last few years, people have started to enjoy my work. It’s really very rewarding. Right after John passed away I think there was that feeling that I was alone and so naturally people were understanding. But this is a different thing.

JT: Did it seem to you that after John passed into spirit people had kinder thoughts about you?

YO: I think there was a kind of relief that I wasn’t with John anymore. Those that couldn’t accept the fact that John was with me. It was a very tragic way that John and I were separated. But we were separated.

JT: I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say it quite that way before...that maybe people were relieved that you were no longer with John because he had been taken off the planet. Did you really think that?

YO: Not really, I was thinking of all different reasons why people might John and Yoko on the cover of Poppin 1971have been very kind to me. I think basically people are kind in nature. What I said earlier was just a little joke there, you know.

(We both have a laugh about this.)

JT: I spoke with Elliot Mintz last December and I asked him about the whole issue of the abuse that you took early on in your relationship with John. He said that you told him you saw it as a learning experience...to try to look inside yourself to understand what was causing people to act in such a negative way toward you.

YO: It was a learning experience. I still think that. I was really in an ivory tower before that, and I didn’t know that these things could happen. Being with John, I really connected myself to the world. I was observing the world, rather than looking inside myself.

JT: Has enough time gone by now for all that to have become a distant memory for you...all the abuse that both you and John had to take?

YO: I think that through that kind of incredible, strange confrontation, shall we say...or communication, either way you want to put it...that people started to understand me. I think there’s more understanding between us.

JT: Can I go back to your court case in September (2002) and ask you a couple of questions about that?

YO: Sure.

JT: What were your feelings about winning the case and actually having all those things back in your hands after so long?

YO: It was a relief. It was such a long time that I had to suffer and be in pain about it. I am relieved, yes.

JT: Does that close the book on that for you? Your problems with Fred Seaman?

YO: I don’t foresee any further problems, no.

JT: Dominique Dunne wrote a lovely column for "Vanity Fair" about you entitled “Yoko Ono Stole My Heart.” He was in the court room and he wrote about his positive impression of you.

YO: I read that. It was very sweet of him. He understood the situation and he was very kind about it. He could have been very nasty he had wanted to. It depends on how you observe things, and I thought he was observing with kindness.

JT: It appeared that everyone was behind you and were happy that it turned out in your favor.Yoko Ono

YO: I think people were trying to be objective about it. But I think Fred Seaman himself actually did a lot of harm to his position in revealing more than he had wanted to. I felt that the judge and jury were very fair with us.

JT: Your 70th birthday is coming up on February 18th. Have you given thought to this particular milestone?

YO: Oh, yes, definitely. I’m one of those people who is so busy and involved in my own work and my life, so to speak. So you know how people say “I’m going to be thirty, what am I going to do?” I didn’t have that kind of butterfly in my stomach kind of thing about those milestones.

JT: So this one doesn’t feel any different to you?

YO: No. When I turned 60, it didn’t bother me at all. And this one doesn’t bother me, basically, but a new emotion came to me. I was rather concerned that maybe I’d be subjected to ageism by the world...for such a high number. But then I realized, it was alright. I just want to say to the people who are not reaching this age...and most of the fans of John Lennon and maybe John and Yoko are younger than me...I want to tell them, it’s fine. It’s ok. You shouldn’t be scared of it. In fact, it gets better.

JT: My impression is that you have remained so youthful, not only in your physical appearance, but in your philosophy and attitude. What is your secret about that?

YO: I always was so involved in what I love to do. I think that was a very strong force in my life. Somehow I always did what I loved to do and did my best with it. I think it has to do with being myself. Myself is not necessarily a strong person or a brave person. I have a lot of weakness myself, too. But I was not particularly ashamed of that.

JT: I recently heard your dance remixes and it certainly is “today,” there’s no doubt about that. Do you have plans to do more of these?

YO: It’s gonna go on and on. (Giggle) This is what I love now, so it’s great.

JT: So far you’ve done Open Your Box, Kiss Kiss Kiss and Yang Yang. Aren’t you going to do Walking On Thin Ice?

YO: Yes. It’s going to be out very soon. That’s all I know, really.

JT: What about the work you have done with contemporary, cutting edge bands...I know you have done that, as well.

YO: It’s fantastic. Outside of the concert tour that I did with my son, Sean, and his friends, these club mixes were just done by these artists and bands and I’m very, very surprised and happy about it. They all came to me and said “Let us do it, let us do it,” and I thought it was great. They all did an incredible job.

JT: What about working on stage with bands?

YO: Well, I mentioned Sean and his friends. We did a very long concert tour in the US, Europe and Japan. That was five years ago. Then I did a show in Japan, but since then I really haven’t done a concert tour with a band. I might do it next year. I’m so busy this year, I don’t thing I could put things together to do it.

JT: Are you and Sean going to work together musically any time in the near future?

YO: It’s possible. Probably not in the near future. But never say never. I don’t think we would never say no. We’ll probably do it next year.

The "Double Fantasy" kiss of John Lennon and Yoko OnoJT: What do you think John would think of all this? That you’re still going strong.

YO: If he’s observing from up there, I’m sure he’s proud of me.

JT: What do you think he would think about you and Sean working together?

YO: I don’t think that was something we decided to do. Maybe John was arranging it from up there. (Laughs)

JT: Can I ask you very briefly about this Lennon/McCartney songwriting controversy?

YO: Yeah.

JT: Is that something that just got blown out of proportion by the press?

YO: I suppose, yes.

JT: Are you ok with what Paul did in changing the names?

YO: Come on, you know my position. Do we have to go through this?

JT: No, we’ll get away from that.

YO: Sure.

JT: I do want to ask you a few things about John.

YO: Sure.

JT: He’s been gone for 22 years, but it’s like it was yesterday, really. He’s so present in the world.

YO: Oh, definitely.

JT: It seems as the years go by his presence is just as strong or stronger. Do you have any particular feeling or thought about what is keeping his memory so alive?

YO: He was a very talented person and his works were so inspired and he inspired other people, too. It just keeps going that way. People are being inspired even now. It will go on forever, in a way, because his work is really very inspiring. People can get a lot of good positive energy from it.

JT: I believe that people like myself, who were in the first generation of his fans, we’re never going to let him go, and every generation that has followed finds him.

YO: It’s amazing because now the young kids, teenagers, they’re into John’s work, too.

JT: I heard a rumor that you were going to release some more of John’s music this year (2003). Is this true?

YO: John’s records have been being released one every year. I go to London, to Abbey Road Studios, to help remix it. We are going to release something at the end of this year.

JT: Do you know which album it’s going to be?

YO: I’m not going to talk about it now. I have to go to London and see which one will be appropriate at this point.

JT: Do you have any plans to release another anthology-type product, with outtakes and demos?

YO: That might come later...much later. I released Lennon Anthology, which took a long time to make...just a big thing, you know? It’s interesting, the journalists always ask when I release something, “when are you going to release the next thing?” It’s like you just had a baby, and they are asking, “when are you going to have the next baby?” (Laughs) I want to say, “please let this baby have some space first.”

Yoko OnoJT: I understand that that’s your perspective, but the thing about the rest of us, we just want more.

YO: Well, let’s put it this way: you won’t be disappointed; more will come.

JT: What about John’s art? Are you regularly adding new pieces to that collection?

YO: At this point, we’re doing that.

JT: I keep up with that quite a bit and I have a few pieces.

YO: That’s great. But you don’t have to actually have it. The nice thing about the gallery shows is that without having to pay any money you can just go and see it.

(The interview is interrupted by Yoko’s assistant.)

YO: The time is up. But, look, you can have two more questions.

JT: Ok. I really want to ask you this: Do you have plans to publish a book of John’s art, along the lines of your recent book, “Yes Yoko Ono”?

YO: It’s possible. But you have to understand, that book came out about my work that I did in the sixties. And it came out in 2000. So it took 40 years for a book to come out. I don’t think that in John’s case that you should wait 40 years, but it takes some time to create a kind of collection to make it worthwhile.

JT: Why don’t I make my last question this one: What message would you like to give out to the world at this time when we are living in this heightened terrorism and we’re at a point of potential war once again?

YO: Umm. (Very softly) Stay well. And I’ll try the same.

Copyright © 2003-2008 ladyjean / AbsoluteElsewhere.net / Jean Teeters

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