On her new album, working with Sean... and John

ClashMusic is very proud to present an exclusive item written for us by the artist and musician Yoko Ono.

Interviewed in the latest issue of Clash magazine as part of 9 page special on The Beatles, here Yoko writes about the sessions for her latest album, 'Between My Head And The Sky', and the working relationship she enjoyed with her son, Sean.


Just before the worldwide announcement of the economic shock, my son announced the birth of a music company called CHIMERA. Nice name. The first sound Ki, is Ki:Air, and the minute you pronounce that syllable, you feel the power of Ki.

Music world was at the lowest point then. Many music related outfits were closing down. So why a new company? We all wondered what my son thought he was doing. Is he going crazy? But when I looked closely into what he was doing, I suddenly realized that he was attempting to create a kind of revolution in the music world. It was a quiet manifesto of a young producer trying to change the system for the better. Oh, that's where he's going? I was shocked.

It reminded me of what I did in Chambers Street Concert Series 50 odd years ago. It also was John and me, how we went gung-ho about our ideas and went with all of them, no matter what. The blood is speaking, I thought. The son is wearing a suit. We wore beatnik black and then hippy blue. But the spirit seems to not have died. It may have gotten stronger, in fact. In those days, the music world was not so controlled corporatively and legally. So it wasn't difficult to cut through to try to change the scene. It's a harder game now.

I recorded and gave two new songs to Chimera to celebrate the beginning of it's musical voyage. Then Sean said I should do my next album with Chimera. I thought, OKAY. In a real world, jumping into making an album with your son, is probably a no, no move for a mother to take. If it's all alright, then fine. But once there is an argument, it may get out of hand. But those things hadn't occurred to me. It seemed like a beautiful wide road was presented to me, and I would be a fool to not take it.

The sessions went more than great. We both learnt about each other in the way we haven't ever, by learning to respect each other's musicianship. I thought I was taking a big chance. But instead, I saw that we were creating miracles. I not only found out that my son was a brilliant music man, but he knew how to deal with musicians. Encouraging them while he got them to do what he had wanted them to do, kinda thing. Which is a normal thing all producers do. But seeing your son do it was like seeing the NY City for the first time. Even with me, he was his professional self- saying good morning and rushing to me to hug me when I arrive at the studio. When did I see him do that, except when he was five, maybe, I thought.

We communicated on the most intricate level of musical exchange. It was intense - night and day. And never a bad word passed between us.

It relaxed me, too, to be part of Chimera. Because, unlike the scenes I was use to travelling, the group of Chimera musicians are all songwriters of the future. And it's nice to know that I am one, too. Well, I am, baby. Don't have any doubts about that one!

It's also an honour bestowed on you by your son that he wanted to do yours first. Well, if you think that's saying a bit much...give me two names of a son and a mother doing something like this...And we are speaking of a very difficult mother and son, each with own firm musical ideas. I think Sean had courage in thinking he wanted to do this.

The fact that he knew every song I wrote and remembered the intros, was a surprised to me, since John and I made a big effort in not letting our son be burdened with the memory of our music. So he did listen... without telling us... These are things I wish I could report to John. He would have loved it.

One night, I was lying down on the sofa in the studio, trying to catch a catnap. I suddenly noticed that somebody quietly covered me with a khaki army surplus coat. That was exactly what John did when we were going through a long recording session one night. The coat was that coat, except that this one was a bit new and a bit hard on my skin. I looked up, and it was Sean who was doing exactly what John did. It was really a weird moment for me. For me to say John was probably there, is so predictable. But I really wondered.

Sean is still acting like most people of his generation. When he visits his mom, he sits in his favorite sofa and start communicating with somebody on the other end of his blackberry. So I feel very lucky that I saw the other side of him. The one who can say good morning, and hug his mom, when he's on his job. Thank you son, I'm already missing the sessions. It's been great.

love, yoko

Follow Clash: