John Lennon, one of music’s strongest and most influential voices, would have been 70 on October 9. As part of the worldwide celebration of his life and legacy, his widow, musical partner and muse, Yoko Ono, has worked with EMI Music to digitally remaster eight of his solo albums and other works from his catalog (available October 5). Ono talked to MORE about some of her fondest memories of her life with the former Beatle, who was killed by a disturbed fan 30 years ago this December.
MORE: Please tell us about your experience remastering John’s solo work for the reissues. How did you feel listening to all that music again, with fresh ears?
YOKO ONO: Again I realized that he was an incredible talent. Well, that is no surprise. But what I noticed this time very strongly was his remarkable diction. We call the ’60s rock "classic rock," as opposed to today’s world music and electronic music. His music was definitely the best of classic rock. And the way he expressed himself matched it. I felt strongly that he was the Shakespeare of our time.
What’s your favorite John Lennon song, and why?
I can’t pick one. I love them all. It was his diary. Every day in his life was so charged and interesting. And it’s all there in his songs.
What are your memories of recording "Give Peace a Chance" and your honeymoon bed-in protest?
John and I had a great time doing all that. We were in love and totally inspired. Everything, therefore, came very easily to us.
You said in one interview that when you realized you were falling in love with John, you knew you would lose your independence. Looking back, is that what happened? Why did you feel that way?
I was scared of losing my independence. But luckily I didn’t. Most guys say they were scared of getting married. Well, I felt very much like that.
What is one of your favorite memories of John?
The fact that we would go to the kitchen in the middle of the night, and John would make tea for both of us.
What would we be surprised to know about John, or about the two of you together, after all that’s been said and written?
That we were just an ordinary man and woman in love. John was scared that I would die first. He kept saying he couldn’t stand it if I died before him. I told him that it was natural for me to go first because I was older. But he didn’t like that. When I think of that now, it makes me sad.
You told an interviewer last year that you don’t mind if no one remembers you. But wouldn’t you like your artistic legacy to be looked after as carefully as you’re looking after John’s?
The best person to do it is my son Sean, who knows my work very well. But I don’t want to burden him with the care of my work. It was very hard for me to care and protect John’s work for all these years, even though I respected and loved it. I don’t want Sean to have to go through that.
Are you planning any special events to commemorate his birthday?
I will be celebrating his birthday in Iceland as usual, lighting the Imagine Peace Tower for his spirit and for World Peace.
How do you plan to mark the anniversary of John’s murder in December? Will Sean be with you?
Sean and I will be together, thinking about John. I’d like us to think how fortunate we were to have had him as a husband and a father.
If John were still alive, what do you imagine he would be doing?
He would still work for world peace, write songs and be a fun husband and a father.