Yoko Ono is an artist, singer, songwriter, musician, filmmaker and peace activist who lives and works in New York City.
In this very special year, which would have seen my husband and lifetime partner John Lennon reach the age of 70, I was surprised that so many musicians from all over the world sent me their ideas of how they were making a tribute to John this year. But I was surprised the most by a call from EMI presenting me with a very ambitious project to get John Lennon’s voice – his singing, his music and his lyrics – out to the world this year. Their serious and voluminous plan was daring. Not only remastering the albums, but also adding unreleased recordings, a book, repackaging, artwork, collages, prints, and well researched essays & liner notes. They have not done anything like this in their company ever. They had such enthusiasm and respect for John’s work, his music and his voice. I immediately dropped everything and joined the effort.
Going to Abbey Road every day and remastering the songs from his individual albums & singles – 121 of them – was very trying as a personal and professional experience. I took the challenge because it was for John. And because I believe in his work. John Lennon, the one who put together a band and coined the word The Beatles, and later freed himself to yet another level of creativity, was a miracle given to this world. I knew then that this was the most important thing I could do this year – to do the best i can do to bring his voice of great power, energy and wisdom to the people now.
His voice could help us change the world for the better that is now in confusion and sadness. Just listening to his magical voice of truth will give each one of us the encouragement and inspiration we need now. GIMME SOME TRUTH. Truth is a serum that is lacking in our lives. I would like to give the power of truth through John’s voice to the politicians of the world now, most of whom are suffering as many of us are – from confusion created by incredible complications the kind the human race has never before encountered.
It was a joyful and painful experience at the same time for me as I worked, since I kept having the urge to tell John in person how much I still respected him and loved him as a fellow musician, listening to what he had done on every turn so effortlessly.
One day, one of the guys came up with an incredible re-mastering of a rough take. He managed to make John’s voice sound like John again by doing a thorough cleaning of the track, which was destroyed in the process of many reissues in the past thirty/forty years. “Hey, that one was too good for you. Maybe John was helping you” – I said it as a kind of reverse compliment to the guy who did it. But it was also true that all the time we were working, I felt that John was with us looking over our shoulders. “John, am I doing right?” I kept asking in the middle of the night when I repeated in my mind about the things I did that day to his work.
It was great to get back together with Jack Douglas in New York and work together on Double Fantasy Stripped Down, which we originally co-produced with John. This new version really allows us to focus our attention on John’s amazing vocals. Technology has advanced so much that, conversely, I wanted to use new techniques to really frame these amazing songs and John’s voice as simply as possible. By stripping down some of the instrumentation, the power of the songs shines through with an enhanced clarity. It was whilst working on the new version of this album that I was hit hardest emotionally, as this was the last album John released before his passing.
I believe strongly that John wanted his voice to come out for the people and for the world, which is feeling the depletion of energy on many levels. Depletion starts in our minds, our spirit and our soul. So wake yourself up by listening to John’s voice. Enjoy. Dance with it in your heart. Keep John close to you. He loves you.
Yoko Ono Lennon
New York City
April 22nd, 2014
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