Why Yoko Ono doesn't deserve the hate | Myf Warhurst

The avant garde artist continues to draw fire – but I admire the power of her performances, and her refusal to conform

There’s an internet video circulating that has a bunch of people entranced. They’re currently hunched over a computer screen, watching while wearing two-day old undies, licking their fingers between clicks to clean them of the cheesy residue from a stale packet of Twisties. The headline of the article says Yoko Ono’s show at Glastonbury is the worst live performance of all time.

Cue the usual jokes from them about Yoko squealing like a banshee and making no sense and she broke up the Beatles right, remember that, and don’t we hate her for that still? And the other great one: how funny is Gran, what drugs are she on?

Well, I say boo to the lot of you who have been passing this around and feeling smug. Or as Yoko would say, AAHHHAHHAHOOOOOAHHAHAH. Yeah, that.

I thought that everyone knew that the yelping, the groaning, is what she does. This is her thing. It’s as essential to her performance as Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar or Kylie Minogue’s pert bum. How quickly people forget.

Even if you’re still kept awake at night by the Lennon/Yoko thing, surely enough time has passed to admire Yoko’s resilience? What she did way back then was controversial. She was prepared to sound ugly, coarse, and at times frighteningly weird, and didn’t care if people liked it or not. It’s funny to me that it still rankles now. Mind you, the continued anti-Yoko sentiment seems to come mainly from blokes still smarting from the fact that their favourite songwriting boy-duo broke up, so very long ago.

I assumed people had ceased hating Yoko, along with calling for death to disco and ditching the home phone. This was until I attended a performance last year of Lennon and Yoko’s Double Fantasy album, for the Meltdown festival in London. Double Fantasy has never been performed because Lennon died three weeks after its release.

The show was incredible. A bunch of singers interpreted the songs from the album, including Patti Smith singing Lennon’s Beautiful Boy imagining that it was her own partner looking down on their son (which had us all in floods of tears), and ended with a performance of Yoko’s fierce Walking on Thin Ice with Siouxsie Sioux belting out front. Yoko, of course, provided some good hearty yelling. We were all yelling. It was joyous.

The reviews the following day were laced with the usual tired comments espousing Yoko hate. I was deeply disheartened at the time by how far we haven’t come.

Yoko was successful as an avant garde artist long before she met Lennon. You might not like her music, or her art, but you have to admire her commitment. She used the hatred pitted against her to motivate her art. She refused to disappear. I don’t necessarily like all of her musical output, but I can’t help but love what she does. She’s far more extraordinary than any one of those girls in pop clips now who exist because of Auto-Tune and your visual pleasure. Lennon knew that too.

The song that folk are sniggering about from the Glasto performance is Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand in the Snow). It was written to her daughter who was taken from her in a custody dispute. She did not reunite with her daughter until some 30 years later. If someone took my kid away I reckon I’d make some animal, guttural sounds, too.

Side note, Lennon claimed this to be “one of the fuckin’ best rock and roll records ever made”. I love him for that.

People don’t like Yoko because she doesn’t conform to what’s expected of female singers (or singers in general), and she doesn’t care. Appropriate was never her colour.

What I love is that she’s 81, still giving it a crack and doesn’t give a rat's what anyone thinks. And I’m pretty sure she’s having more fun than the rest of us. #TEAMYOKO all the way.


Myf Warhurst

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band at Glastonbury 2014 review – between ludicrous and lovable
Yoko tries out mass primal scream therapy on the Park stage audience, but her messages get lost amid the atonal wails, writes Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont

29, Jun, 2014 @7:03 PM

Article image
Dolly Parton at Glastonbury – how dagginess got cool
When I was a teenage Dolly fan, I had to keep it to myself. Now she's playing the world's most famous music festival – but is this entirely a good thing, asks Myf Warhurst

Myf Warhurst

25, Jun, 2014 @1:33 AM

Article image
The world owes Yoko an apology! 10 things we learned from The Beatles: Get Back
Peter Jackson’s eight-hour documentary on the Fab Four reveals Ringo is an amazing drummer, McCartney was a joy and their entourage were coolest of all

Andy Welch

02, Dec, 2021 @4:48 PM

Article image
Why our love for TV talent show singers doesn't last past the finale | Myf Warhurst
Myf Warhurst: Shows like The X Factor and The Voice are music’s equivalent of a fast-food joint: they leave us feeling sated – and a bit sick

Myf Warhurst

13, Aug, 2014 @1:35 AM

Article image
Ah, Countdown. My weekly dose of fantasy | Myf Warhurst
Like half the performers, the audience seemed to have no idea what they were doing there. But everyone had great hair, writes Myf Warhurst

Myf Warhurst

19, Nov, 2014 @12:08 AM

The Street doesn't deserve to win

But The Mark of Cain does. Here's my second stab at guessing who will win the RTS Programme Awards on March 19

Gareth McLean

05, Mar, 2008 @3:00 PM

Article image
I was brought up on British TV, but I'm not to the manor born | Myf Warhurst
I thought moving to London would be relatively easy as there are no language barriers and I’d been brought up on a diet of British TV

Myf Warhurst

02, Apr, 2014 @2:01 AM

Article image
Why I just couldn't face I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here
The notorious reality television show is coming to Australia, but not everyone has the mettle for such a public torture-fest, especially when it could involve buckets of creepy crawlies

Myf Warhurst

27, Jan, 2015 @11:59 PM

Article image
Australian morning TV is taking the Mick, isn't it?
Watching 'experts' chew over Jagger's liaisons got me longing for the good ol' days of Bert Newton's Good Morning Australia

Myf Warhurst

11, Jun, 2014 @2:33 AM

Article image
I Am Cait didn't deserve the hate
Caitlyn Jenner’s reality show, like its subject, was far from perfect. But it changed perceptions of trans people forever and advanced our struggle for equal rights

Hannah Simpson

18, Aug, 2016 @4:58 PM