Yoko Ono :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

Yoko Ono is the definition of an essential follow. Over on Twitter, she's a fount of wisdom and humor. Take this recent missive: "Art does many things to society, most of which is beneficial to all of us. It gives love, peace, healing, creates a desire in you to give, forgive, and have fun. It also helps you have good sex, too, as you may have experienced." While many seminal artists struggle to adapt to ever-evolving communication channels, Ono seems readymade for the Information Age. Her voice cuts through the static, a constant balm in these so often bummer heavy times.

On her new album, Warzone, available October 19th, Ono selects 13 songs from her decades-spanning back pages, recasting them in striking new light. Over the course of twenty albums released over the last fifty years, she's established herself as a pioneer, and this new record provides fresh proof of that fact. From the hair-raising deconstructed pop of "Why" to the strident anthem "Woman Power," these new versions illuminate the prescience of Ono's poetry. On a new version of "Imagine," the 1971 ballad she wrote with her husband John Lennon, she strips the song down to its strident, radically humanist core: "No need for greed or hunger/A brotherhood of man."

Warzone follows on the heels of an in-progress reissue campaign that has seen Secretly Canadian and Ono's Chimera Music expand her remarkable back catalog. That look to her past didn't inspire the new recording, however, Ono says, and the poignancy of these songs feels rooted squarely in our tumultuous present. Ono spoke to Aquarium Drunkard via email; her koan-like responses reveal an artist with a clear and concise view of her art, life, and purpose.

Aquarium Drunkard: On Warzone, you gather 13 songs from your back catalog and reinvent them. The album is named for “Warzone," from your 1995 album Rising. How does the “warzone” of 2018 feel different for you than the one that inspired the song in the mid-'90s?

Yoko Ono: "Warzone" was another song kind of thing, but now it is really important that that message will go to people. As a woman, we get dressed up, but with this, I didn’t have the time to dress up, because the message was so important now.

Only the good shit. Aquarium Drunkard is powered by its patrons. Keep the servers humming and help us continue doing it by pledging your support.

To continue reading, become a member or log in.