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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Sunday, February 25, 2007
    Hey Yoko
     
    Recent events reawakened me to the radical work of Yoko Ono, who along with Adrian Henri and other collaborators created an event called Music of the Mind / The Fog Machine at the Bluecoat Gallery in September 1967, a performance which involved, among other things, inviting audience members to participate in wrapping then unwrapping a bandage-covered Yoko; and lots of smashing things up. Pretty avant-garde, for the time, and still challengingly so, watching it on a screen in the sanitised space of Liverpool Tate this week.

    For not fitting the desired narrative of the time and place Epstein was conveniently sidelined; but Ono has had it worse: she's been reviled. In response to this I made a significant journey straight from the Tate uphill to Probe, and for the last few days I've revelled in repeated plays of Yes, I'm a Witch, Ono's latest work, a collaboration with loads of great contemporary artists in celebration of her exceptional musical output over the years. A reminder of just how good she is.

    Yes, I'm a witch / I'm a bitch / I don't care what you say / My voice is real / My voice speaks truth / I don't fit in your ways / I'm not gonna die for you / You might as well face the truth / I'm gonna stick around for quite a while.

    - that's the woman's triumphant response to our rejection of her over the years. And it's good that she has stuck around, because she's given us works like Revelations (on the album in duet with Cat Power), its lyrics a contemporary set of beatitudes which go way beyond mere hippie idealism, embracing knowing humour and good wisdom:

    Bless you for your anger, it's a sign of rising energy.
    Bless you for your sorrow, it's a sign of vulnerability.
    Bless you for your greed, it's a sign of great capacity.
    Bless you for your jealousy, it's a sign of empathy.
    Bless you for your fear, it's a sign of wisdom.
    Bless you for your search of direction.

    Bless you for the times you feel no love.
    Open your heart to life anyway
    In time you will find love in you.

    You are a sea of goodness,
    You are a sea of love.
    Bless you, bless you, bless you,
    Bless you for what you are.