Over the weekend, I got a message from writer, cultural historian, and all-round-good guy Simon Wells. He’s a DM pal and has written a shelf-load of books on the Beatles, the Stones, the Who, cult movies, Charles Manson, and a hip cult novel called The Tripping Horse, all of which are well-worth reading. Now we’ve had the introductions, let me tell you that Wells sent me a link to an hour-long audio he was sent of Yoko Ono recording her “diary” during the overdub sessions for The Beatles White Album. As Simon explained:
During the early days of her relationship with with John Lennon, Yoko Ono would dictate her thoughts on life with Lennon into her own personal recorder - presumably to be given to John later. This, often personal, tape was made during the overdub session for “Revolution 1” at EMI Studio number 3 on 4th June 1968. Parts of Yoko’s tape would be later used in the sound collage “Revolution 9”
This audio has been been discussed on various music forums with the general opinion that 1) it’s genuine; 2) Ono comes across as a bit of an “airhead”; 3) it’s great to hear The Beatles working on the mega-length version of “Revolution.”
During various points in the recording, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and producer George Martin can be heard discussing technical issues like:
GM: Let’s do it.
J: Voices on the, which one, with the new voices.
GM: You want that flange as well.
J: Well, for the final one. You don’t have to do it now, though.
GM: We can do it now, if you want, then. As long as we know where it happens.
J: Well, it just happens all the way through, whenever they’re in. Just straight flange.
Y: John made a beautiful loop and he’s throwing that in the Revolution. It’s very intense and onto. . .
GM: Okay, let’s go then, let’s go.
J: So we just leave them on then, flange.
GM: Leave them on, yeah.
J: And just mess about a bit when it’s guitar part in.
Engineer: Don’t want to flange the verses always.
J: The new . . just the one that goes ‘mommy daddy mommy daddy’.
E: They come in and toss anyway, and just flange the rest.
J: But what else is on it, there’s nothing else on that track.
E: No. But we have to set on that machine, what we want to flange you see.
J: We only want to flange, so it won’t harm it, would it? So what are you saying, then?
E: What am I saying? He’s confused me.
J: I see, right. Let’s go baby! [cut]
Over this, Ono talks about her relationship with Lennon (“I miss you already again. I miss you very much”); her feelings of paranoia (“I wonder maybe it’s just my paranoia to think that you don’t understand me.”); her thoughts on McCartney (“being very nice to me, he’s nice and a very, str- on the level, straight, sense”); her apartment in London (“overlooking the park, the Hyde Park, it’s quiet. It’s on the third floor, both rooms are facing the park and the sky”); and the shooting of Andy Warhol.
Of course, the big question some doubters will ask is whether this is all an elaborate hoax? Well, if it is, then it’s beautifully constructed as someone has taken considerable time to make it. However, the details contained on the tape (all rather personal), together with the background music and the interaction between Ono and other people in the room suggest it’s all (probably) genuine-see above.
My two cents (for what it’s worth) is that Ono’s voice sounded deeper and spoke less rapidly and used the phrase “you know” a lot. Hey, but what the hell do I know? Make your own mind up. A full transcript of Ono’s recording can be read here.
With thanks to Simon Wells.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Listen to Paul McCartney’s ‘lost’ experimental Christmas disc for his fellow Beatles from 1965
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?: That time the Rolling Stones got busted for drugs
John & Yoko: The Dentist Interview, 1968
John and Yoko shine on in these rarely seen photographs from 1980