Released Oct. 20 USA / Nov. 7 UK
Re-Issued March 22, 2018
By Madeline Bocaro
© Madeline Bocaro, 2019. No part of this site may be reproduced or re-blogged in whole or in part in any manner without the permission of the copyright owner.
Wedding Album was released seven months after John and Yoko’s March 20, 1969 wedding in Gibraltar. The album was issued in a box containing many items to make us feel included in the couple’s celebration – including a piece of wedding cake in a bag. A scrapbook of articles about their Bed-in ‘Honeymoon’ is also included, along with a copy of their marriage certificate.
Side One: ‘John & Yoko’
Yoko speaks about the side-long symphony of two people in love:
“Screaming! John! Yoko!” But I think that’s music. I mean, that’s how I formalized it… the heartbeat is the beat of rock, right? So we put our own heartbeats there as the beat of the music. And it starts with a kind of pianissimo, and goes on to crescendo, and approaches largo, and it goes into a faster rhythm and then it goes into a big fortissimo kind of thing. I mean, we did it right! And then most people just ignored the form, the musical form. “They were just screaming!”
– Yoko, Goldmine, November 7, 1997
John feels that their heartbeats assimilate African tribal drumming.
The lengthy track is a take-off on the comedy bit ‘John and Marsha’ by American comedian Stan Freberg.
Side One was recorded at Abbey Road studios in April 1969.
Sean Ono Lennon: “They didn’t have a wedding, really. So in a way, their actual wedding party is this thing we all get to experience. It’s a way to participate in their wedding and their love… It’s nice that the moment was preserved, and we tried to focus on the details of getting all the artwork recreated, which was obviously not easy. I think it was kind of a breakthrough for packaging, including all those items. It was hard to recreate and make it feel like the original did. It feels like a celebration of life and love. “It’s wild music, man. For one thing, Wedding Album just showed how sweet they are, you know? They’re so cute, just hanging out all night making weird, wobbly sounds. You can tell that they’re having a good time, which is what I like about it most.”
– discogs.com (Wedding Album 50th Anniversary re-issue, March 2019)
Side Two: “Amsterdam” was recorded at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel in March 1969 during John & Yoko’s first Bed-in. It includes interviews about their peace campaign, audio from the actual honeymoon Bed-in and other musical bits.
A nice Wedding Album packet was offered by mail order in 1969, besides all goodies inserted with the album. The Wedding Certificate is larger and embossed. The photos at the Rock of Gibraltar were taken by John Shephard Sr. (not by their official wedding photographer David Nutter).
(See Sean’s 2019 reissue unboxing video here):
‘My Origin, Too’: A First Look at John and Yoko’s ‘Wedding Album’ Reissue, From Their Son
“I don’t know what to get my mom anymore. I’ve gotten her enough sweaters and hats,” Sean Lennon says with a grin, during a recent conversation about the 50th anniversary edition of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s elaborate Wedding Album box — which hits shelves this week from Secretly Canadian and Chimera Music. “So remastering all her albums and putting them out as lovingly as I could seemed like the best gift I could give her.”
Sean is half joking when attributing the extensive Yoko Ono reissue campaign, which he began in 2016, to lackluster gift-giving skills. But he’s only half joking. His smirk quickly gives way to pure effervescence as he recounts the actual exchange. “When I handed my mom the package of the pressings, I’ve never seen her react to a gift like that,” he beamed. “It’s the only gift I’ve ever given her where she’s been visibly touched. You could see it in her eyes.”
The reissues are clearly a labor of love for John and Yoko’s only son, and the brand new edition of their experimental Wedding Album is a prime example. The 1969 packaging was beyond extravagant, with items like a copy of their marriage certificate, your very own slice of cake (in photo form, of course), and press clippings among the ephemera. The reissue — as evidenced by our exclusive first look in the video below — recreates practically every aspect of the original.
Getting it right was a lot of effort, but that was critical for Sean. Anything else would betray the album’s true purpose. “They didn’t have a wedding, really. So in a way, their actual wedding party is this thing we all get to experience. It’s a way to participate in their wedding and their love.”
He adds, “It’s nice that the moment was preserved, and we tried to focus on the details of getting all the artwork recreated, which was obviously not easy. I think it was kind of a breakthrough for packaging, including all those items. It was hard to recreate and make it feel like the original did. It feels like a celebration of life and love.”
While Wedding Album wasn’t exactly mysterious to Sean, remastering the record gave him a deeper awareness of that celebration. “To be honest, I never really spent that much time listening to [the Unfinished Music series],” he admits about his parents’ late-’60s experimental trilogy, which also includes Two Virgins and Life With The Lions. “It’s wild music, man. For one thing, Wedding Album just showed how sweet they are, you know? They’re so cute, just hanging out all night making weird, wobbly sounds. You can tell that they’re having a good time, which is what I like about it most.”
In his view, the experience is so engrossing that it transcends the story of John and Yoko specifically. “It just feels like a little photograph of what falling in love is really like — true love. They’re so innocent and inspiring each other to explore completely new territory. And that’s it, right?” the Ghost Of The Saber Tooth Tiger frontman reasons. After a brief pause, you can practically hear the light bulb above his head pop on. “What else is love but being inspired to explore new things and do it in a childlike way?”
While these universal truths are important for Sean, his intensely personal attachment to Wedding Album is still center stage when discussing the project. “That’s what led to my existence. The album is ultimately sort of my origin, too, isn’t it?” he grins. “I’m quite proud of having been a part of [the reissue].”
At the end of the day, he’s ultimately driven by that visceral connection to his mother and late father as parents, not as famous musicians. “I feel like a good son for having done it. It makes me feel like — like a good boy. What more could I do to say thank you other than remaster the music you made myself and make sure it’s all put together beautifully, then give people the opportunity to re-experience that?” – discogs.com
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Also see my related stories:
Dreaming Together: John & Yoko’s 1969
When Two Clouds Meet
John & Yoko’s Viennese Waltz (Bagism)
Amsterdam Bed-In Day by Day
John & Yoko’s Song of Peace (Montreal Bed-In)