YOKO SONGS: Listen the Snow is Falling
By Madeline Bocaro ©
Listen, The Snow is Falling
B-Side of ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ 1971
B-Side of ‘Mind Train’ 1971
“Just before it snows I feel something, you know. And I start to get sort of elevated in a way. Then I see snow and I think Oh! That’s what it was, It’s always like that.”
– Yoko, Los Angeles Free Press
Yoko is asking us to listen to ‘the sound of one hand clapping’. A meditation. This song shimmers like light on snow. It quiets our minds and bodies in a blanket of peacefulness. This was one of the first songs of her own that she shared with John. The lyrics come from ‘Snow Piece’ (1963) in Yoko’s book Grapefruit. An early vocal-only demo contains an outtake verse which is exactly ‘Snow Piece’.
When you talk to someone
Snow is falling between you and him
When you talk with someone
Go on talking until he’s covered with snow
The tape echo on Yoko’s voice makes the B-side sound magical. Her instruction to Nicky Hopkins for the piano intro was, “Pretend that it’s snowing…that snow is melting on your fingertips.” She desires the sound of a celeste, so the electric piano is doctored to sound like one. “Feet in the Snow” and “Strong Wind” from a sound effects record are layered atop each other.
Listen, the snow is falling all the time
Listen, the snow is everywhere
Between your bed and mine
Between your head and my mind
…between your god and mine
…snow of dream, snow of hope, snow of love
Listen – listen baby
Some words reflect where Yoko was living (NYC), and her Wrap Piece (wrapping the lion statues in Trafalgar Square).
Between Empire State Building and between Trafalgar Square
Snow is falling everywhere
Snow is falling all the time
The song was reissued as a promotional CD single in 1995 with a still from Yoko’s Fluxfilm no. 14: One (a.k.a. Match) 1966 on the cover.
The reverence to silence is reminiscent of John & Yoko’s ‘Two Minutes of Silence’ (1969) and preceded their ‘Nutopian National Anthem’ (1973), which quite possibly samples “4:33” by John Cage (1952)!
The best mashup ever:
John Cage “Silence” & John & Yoko’s “Two Minutes of Silence” – with lyrics!
Yoko & John & John Cage discussing vocalizing on Bank Street
Here are some wonderful versions of Yoko’s song by Stephen Emmer:
Listen, the Snow Is Falling, Pt. 1 (feat. Kazu Makino)
Listen, the Snow Is Falling, Pt. 2 (feat. Yoko Ono & Samuel Beckett)
Galaxie 500 (1990)