‘Mrs. Lennon’ / ‘Midsummer New York’

By Madeline Bocaro ©

‘Mrs. Lennon’ is yet another of Yoko’s eerily prescient songs that somehow induces calm. John Lennon’s echoing piano, Klaus Voormann’s bass and delicate bells accompanying her somber vocals place Yoko in a ghostly realm as she contemplates her position as John’s wife and the sublimation of her own identity as an artist.

The single’ on Apple Records B/W ‘Midsummer New York’ (Yoko’s take on Elvis’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel’) was released 29 September 1971 (USA) and on 29 October 1971 (UK).

In a segment from the Imagine film, John and Yoko desperately search for each other through the morning mist. Through all the strife and hell that they have gone through so far as a couple (with much more to come) she relents, “I guess it must be alright”. The second half of the song predicts their separation. Although we all know this very well, she says, “neither of them ever left each other”.

And our children, o’ our children
Did they have to go to war?
Yes, my love, it’s okay
Half the world is always killed you know

Husband John extended his hand
Extended his hand to his wife
And he finds, and suddenly he finds
That he has no hands

They’ve lost their bodies
They’ve lost their bodies
Yes, they lost their bodies

Neither of them, o’ neither of them
Ever left each other
Yes, my love, it’s okay
Half the world is always dying you know

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wZGwXFP7RY

A gorgeous version of ‘Mrs. Lennon’ remixed by Peter Bjorn and John (Yes, I’m a Witch Too, Feb. 2016) highlights Yoko’s stunning vocals.

Listen to a sample here:

https://www.amazon.com/Mrs-Lennon/dp/B01MTSMT6Y

‘The song also inspired Alex Chilton’s band Big Star to write their song ‘Holocaust’ on which they lift the exact chord sequence and haunting ambiance. The demo is even more beautiful.

Big Star ‘Holocaust’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsQ977u8Wuk

Big Star ‘Holocaust’ Demo:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jM4ySM76HDM

 

‘MIDSUMMER NEW YORK’

This was Yoko’s take on Elvis’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel’.

Just as Yoko inspired John to experiment, he instilled something in Yoko that would drastically transform her amorphous music – a beat. Beginning with the seventeen-minute long ‘Mind Train’ and ‘Midsummer New York’, Yoko began writing structured songs with evocative lyrics in a more conventional framework

“‘Midsummer New York’ is about the deep insecurity that I have in me that I associate with my life in New York before I met John…I always wanted to make a song that uses the word ‘shaking’ with a double meaning, as I discovered the use of the word in rock in 1968.”
– Yoko Ono *

“You see, I was doing music of the mind – no sound at all, and everybody sitting around just imagining sounds… But I felt stifled even with that, I was dying to scream, to go back to my voice. And I came to a point where I believed that the idea of avant-garde purity was just as stifling as just doing a rock beat over and over.”

– Yoko to Jonathan Cott – Yoko Ono and Her Sixteen-Track Voice Rolling Stone March 18, 1971

(The second take of the song was released as a Japan only bonus track on Yoko’s 2018 album Warzone. On this take she is not emulating Elvis. It’s a great take, but you can hear her say, at the end, “OK, it was barely good.”)

Warzone Japan bonus track ‘Midsummer New York’ (1971 outtake)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU39vjVlx_I

 

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This box contained 25 copies of ‘Mrs. Lennon’:

 

 

 

 

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