New Musical Express, October 6, 1984

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... Bibliography ...



It's in the mix-up

Rachel Wilde

Every Man Has A Woman
Yoko Ono / Various artists

Mr Marx was right, of course, when he said that what people think is largely determined by their material position. It follows that Yoko Ono, as probably the richest woman alive, has millionaireish thoughts: vapid, metaphysical, introspective, and profundly unconcerned with who's going to pay the milkman.

Except, that is, for the night when she was widowed. For even this collection of cover versions of her songs cannot escape the themes of her recent work, and its preoccupation with reassessing the significance of her identity as John's Missus (above all else) which is cast by the shadow of his death.

Naturally, it sorts nothing out. None of the questions about whether Yoko is a major talent in her own right are answered. This LP complicates things. What the other musicians recognise in Yoko's songs changes the way we see her and John. The possible levels of interpretation multiply...

At its simplest level, this LP is crass: Sean's own chirpy, precocious, all-American-boy version of "It's Alright." Dear Sean shouldn't be encouraged in his naivety (Yoko should tell him that money can't buy absolutely everything.) Then there's the dreadful Spirit Choir — a whole horde of Seans — singing such gems as "Are we gonna keep pushing our children to drugs / Are we gonna keep driving them insane" in earnest piping chorus: it's a piece of rank hypocrisy which would be unforgivable were it not so hilarious.

But there's the redeeming moments — Elvis Costello does a teasing, thoughtful version of "Walking On Thin Ice," giving the Yoko preoccupations with the role of language ("It'll be just a story") and the meaning of meaning, a new lease of life. Then Eddie Money's tough, racey cover of "I'm Moving On" reveals a kind of therapeutic value to the frustrations expressed in songwriting, a redemptive quality which can be read between the lyric lines in the Ono/Lennon affair, despite the stark contrast of Yoko's own rendering of the same song — thin, reedy and painfully calculating.

Rosanne Cash's powerful "Nobody Sees Me Like You Do" opens up all the old wounds again. In this song perhaps more than the others, Yoko and John's affair becomes a metaphor for understanding processes through which selfhood is formed.

But these thoughts are only what I've made of it. Whether you want to pay a fiver to hear an extremely rich woman (with friends' help) airing her dirty washing and philosophical conundrums in public, in order to make your own interpretations of her private life, is another matter.

Tags: Every Man Has A WomanYoko OnoWalking On Thin IceEddie MoneyRosanne CashJohn Lennon

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New Musical Express, October 6, 1984

Rachel Wilde reviews Every Man Has A Woman.


1984-10-06 New Musical Express page 39 clipping 01.jpg

Cover and page scan.
1984-10-06 New Musical Express cover.jpg 1984-10-06 New Musical Express page 39.jpg


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