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Category: Smithsonian Associates

All She’s Still Saying Is Give Peace a Chance

This article 1st appeared in The Price’s Do DC – 02.18.2014

This month we’ve seen a new British Invasion of media about the Beatles almost the same as that which also exploded when John, Paul. George, and Ringo first set foot in American in February of 1964. We had the Grammy tribute concert celebrating the Beatles’ historic first performance 50 years ago on the Ed Sullivan Show. Then, of course, there was the re-creation of the band’s 35-minute, 12-song, first American concert right here in DC.

Well, in the event you are in the DC area and you aren’t yet Beatled out, you can head to the Hirshhorn Museum to check out art work by one of the most important non-Beatle players in the Beatles’ story – Yoko Ono.

In 1969, one year before the Beatles broke up (at the time, and even today, there are fans who blame Ono for the dissolution of the Fab Four), John Lennon married Yoko and the pair remained united in their art and music until Lennon was tragically gunned down in 1980 outside the couple’s apartment in New York City.

Ono’s work is included in the exhibition Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950. The exhibit features creations from artists influenced by the fear and uncertainty caused by the threat of imminent annihilation posed during the immediate decades following World War II and the anxiety that still resides in our contemporary world today.

Ono appeared at the museum to discuss her work, and naturally, she spoke much of her relationship with John and how they influenced each other.

“I didn’t wish for it, but I met John and my whole life changed,” Ono said. During much of their time, both in music and art, the couple delivered a blistering critique of the social conditions of the 60s and 70s.

“People would ask – ‘what is she doing here’ and I would say trying to make it a peaceful world,” Ono told the crowd of art and Beatles lovers.

“With John’s assassination, I know the pain that people go through,” she said. “But we can survive all this together. I know we can if we use our brains. We all have brains. They think they can control us but we can change the hate to love and the war to peace. We just need a clear, logical head to know what is going on.”

“We think ‘I shouldn’t do this’ – but if all of us stand up it will be very difficult to beat us. They (the oppressors) will be very lonely. They won’t even have servants,” she added.

“Not too many people choose to be activists. Well, John and I were activists. Today people ask me – ‘Yoko, are we going to have doomsday (which is a recurring motif in the Damage Control exhibit)?’ I say, well it is up to us. If we are all so dumb, we will,” Ono said.

Now 81 years old and having spent more than 30 years without John, Ono acknowledges that she has changed. For one thing, she focuses much more on her Japanese past and her ancestors. “I thought I was escaping that and being a rebel. But today, I know family history is important.”

“There are so many beautiful things now. Whenever I get depressed, I take a look at the sky. It is so beautiful,” she concluded.

Talking ‘Bout My Generation Makes News

As a former journalist I’m used to seeing my name in print, but this was the first time one of my programs made the news in Washington, DC. My lecture was listed second of the best things to do in DC on this particular Monday night. And I have to admit, Paws of Honor was a much better cause than my talk.

The Washingtonian

Things to Do in DC This Week
AUGUST 26-28, 2019

MONDAY
DOGS The St. Gregory Hotel is celebrating National Dog Day with a “Patio Pawty” where both humans and canines can enjoy food and drinks (four-legged friends will enjoy treats from Doggy Style Bakery). The event is a fundraiser for Paws of Honor , a nonprofit that provides no-cost veterinary care for retired service and military dogs, which the hotel also supports with its pet stay fees. Paws of Honor alums will be on hand for snuggles and belly rubs. Free to attend; $35 for drinks, light appetizers, and doggy treats, 5 PM – 10 PM.

LECTURE Even beyond Woodstock, 1969 was a crucial year for music with the formation of the Allman Brothers, Judas Priest, and ZZ Top as well as the recording of the Beatles’ final album. In a lecture at the S. Dillon Ripley Center presented by Smithsonian Associates, DC-based author Dave Price will explore the year in a before-and-after context, looking at the events  of 1959 (“the day the music died” with the death of Buddy Holly ) and the late 1970s with the arrival of Tom Petty , the Clash, and more. Price will pull from the research for his upcoming book What’s That Sound: Song Lists and Stories to Help You Better Understand the Music of the Baby Boom Era. The final lecture in the series takes place on September 23 . $45, 6:45 PM.
My T-shirt says it all …
I share a laugh with one of my guests, South Jersey poet and songwriter R.G. Evans

My Upcoming Talks at the Smithsonian in DC

The Music of 1969: Talking ’Bout My Generation
July 29, Aug. 26, and Sept. 23, 6:45–8:45 p.m.

The year 1969 saw a major upheaval in American culture and society, one that found a corresponding reflection in pop music. A glance at the charts shows the transition: carefree bops like “Sugar, Sugar” and “Build Me Up, Buttercup” are there, but so are psychedelic tunes like “Aquarius” and “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” The Allman Brothers, Blind Faith, Judas Priest, Mountain, and ZZ Top all debuted, while the Beatles recorded their final album. On the 50th anniversary of that tumultuous year, join Dave Price, D.C.-based author of the upcoming What’s That Sound: Song Lists and Stories to Help You Better Understand the Music of the Baby Boom Era, to explore the music of 1969 and why it endures.

Woodstock and Its Legacy

Mon., July 29 

The Woodstock Festival—three days of peace, love, music, mud, and myth—made musical and cultural history. Pricerecalls the scene at Yasgur’s farm in performances by Richie Havens, Santana, Sly and the Family Stone, and Jimi Hendrix. Director Michael Wadleigh’s documentary about the event further burnished the Woodstock legend, and theWashington Post’schief film critic Ann Hornadayjoins Price to discuss the impact and legacy of that film. Get a preview of the two competing concerts, one at the site of the original festival, planned to commemorate Woodstock’s anniversary. 

’59,’69,’79: The Music in Context

Mon., Aug. 26

Price leads a look at a how the music of 1969 is linked to pop’s past and influenced its future. He and songwriter and poet R. G. Evansrecall “the day the music died”—the 1959 airplane crash that claimed the lives of rockers Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper—and its reflection in Don McLean’s “American Pie.” With Rolling Stones expert Doug Potash, Price looks at the Stones’ ill-fated Altamont concert, a dramatic and violent contrast to the peace-and-love vibes of Woodstock. Then fast-forward a decade for some tracks and talk about albums from Donna Summer, the Clash, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Pink Floyd that show how diverse music was in a year when rock and disco battled for supremacy on turntables and the airways.

The Music of Protest

Mon., Sept. 23 

America was founded in protest, and few times capture the nature of public dissent better than the 1960s and 1970s. Price explores several of the era’s massive marches and rallies held in Washington, connecting them to classic protest songs that provided the soundtracks for the civil rights and peace movements, from Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” to Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” to John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Three-session series

Full series 
CODE: 1B0-309 
Members $75; Nonmembers $105
Individual sessions

CODE: 1B0-310 (Mon. July 29)CODE: 1B0-311 (Mon., Aug. 26)
CODE: 1B0-312 (Mon., Sept. 23)
Members $30; Nonmembers $45

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