Yoko Ono Continues to Carve Her Own Path with Blueprint for a Sunrise

Written by Everett True on . Posted in Miscellaneous, Posts.

Yoko Ono still
feels an overwhelming desire to prove herself. It’s odd that she feels
thus. Her art has long been reexamined and acknowledged as both innovative and
influential (her previous album, 1996’s ambitious Rising, spawned
an entire remix record, filled with interpretations from fans as diverse as
Thurston Moore, Tricky and the Beastie Boys). She projects a serenity, and knowledge,
in public that is rare indeed. She has continued to carve her own path through
life’s travails, unconcerned by commercial considerations in the way only
the truly gifted or truly financially secure can. (I’d say she was both.)
And yet Yoko, at the age of 68, is still jarringly insecure: still searching,
still trying to forge new expression and light. (Contrast her with her peer
Macca, who when queried as to why he decided against taking a "dance"
direction on his just-released album, stated that he didn’t want to upset
pals like Elvis Costello.)

The proof of
her insecurity is all over this schizophrenic, juddering album–in places
a master(mistress?)piece, at times a stroll through Central Park with the radio
turned up full, in others a simple reiteration of former glories. Songs leap
from genre to genre. "I’m Not Getting Enough" discusses dissatisfaction
with life over a cod reggae guitar, its cheery strains belying the song’s
morbid tone; "I Remember Everything" harks back to the solid 70s rock
of the Plastic Ono Band; the cavernous album centerpiece "Rising II"
has scraping violin and Japanese monologue like an Andy Warhol happening; "Is
This What We Do" reprises feminist ideologies that seem almost quaintly
(and possibly wrongly) old-fashioned in this go-getting world (although this
is Yoko’s point precisely, that women are still constrained by society,
and that constraint is implicit in our refusal to acknowledge it). The astonishing
"Soul Got Out of the Box" beats with the metronome of half-formed
screams, almost still-born in the throat.

It’s doubtful
Yoko herself–despite her ability to remain simultaneously conscious and
artful–is actually aware what she is seeking from this record. That she
still has validity, probably, because the Shadow will never disappear (a sad
irony: as any musician or fan searching out Blueprint for a Sunrise will
give two snaps for any imagined weight). Yet her anxiety is placed, almost on
a pedestal, apparent for all to see: from the opening, disturbing pair of tracks
"I Want You to Remember Me" (A and B), the first the sound of a solitary
woman continuing a heated discussion with herself. "Wouldn’t it be
nice to be a heroine/Cool and slinky with an appropriate smile," she asks
rhetorically on "Wouldnit (Swing)"–a track that almost certainly
borrows some of its Nilsson-esque tone and almost nauseatingly slick beat to
the presence of son Sean on guitars and keyboards.

Yoko is of
course being slyly ironic in her phrasing, but still the question resonates
all over this twisted, rewarding album. Wouldn’t it have been nice if Yoko
had been the heroine to more than a select few of us? And don’t you think
somehow the world would be sweeter, cooler, if she had been, not fucking Britney
or any other plastic doll? Hit me baby, one more time. It’s almost like
she’s condoning it.