‘Mrs. Lennon’ / ‘Midsummer New York’

By Madeline Bocaro 

© Madeline Bocaro, 2019. No part of this site may be reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the permission of the copyright owner.

‘Mrs. Lennon’ is yet another of Yoko Ono’s eerily prescient songs that somehow induces calm. She began writing the lyrics in 1969. 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.

“I wrote it in Ascot. Ascot life was strange! It reminded me of Citizen Kane. I’m sitting there and I see this retired colonel who was our gardener, coming from far far away in the distance, in the huge garden, just walking very slowly… and then the maid coming up and saying, ‘The colonel left these flowers for you, Mrs. Lennon.’

‘Oh, thank you.”’Uh-huh, Mrs. Lennon! It was like that.”

 – Yoko, Goldmine, November 7, 1997

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

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) and also in Japan.


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 here:

‘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’


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


The B-Side:


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.”)

I love her expletive at the beginning!

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


© Madeline Bocaro 2019. No part of this blog may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without prior written consent Madeline Bocaro. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Madeline Bocaro is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Madeline Bocaro.

This is an excerpt from my upcoming Yoko Ono biography


In Your Mind – The Infinite Universe of Yoko Ono

by Madeline Bocaro

This is an all-embracing look at Yoko Ono’s life, music and art – in stunning detail.

Order here:


Contact: conceptualbooks@icloud.com






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


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