Jun 052019

Netflix documentary “John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky”  (2018),  1.5 hours long. 


(note:  a web search brings up a video that looks like the Netflix film.  It is shorter and not the same.)

The film is about the making of the “Imagine” album (release date Sept 1971;  Vietnam War ended Apr 1975).  But more than that.  It’s about CONCEPTUALIZING.

The documentary is a piecing together of footage taken at the time of the recording of Imagine.  With present-day interviews of the still-alive musicians and recording engineers, of Yoko Ono, of Julian Lennon.

The end of the film makes its relevance to the current climate in the U.S. clear.

I feel heartened when a company like Netflix offers “Imagine” to re-invigorate and move us.  In this time of need.

The song Imagine isn’t everything;  nonetheless,  here’s a youtube of it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOgFZfRVaww;   the lyrics are appended,  Scroll down.

Background on Yoko Ono (through childhood photographs and brief interview) provided in the film is helpful.   Sorry!  I can only do words:

Yoko Ono was born in February 1933 in Japan.  In August, 1945 during World War II (1939-45), Americans dropped the world’s first deployed nuclear bomb over Hiroshima. The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. Three days later, another A-bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people.

So Yoko Ono was 12.5 years old when the bombs dropped.   She went from being a daughter in a wealthy banking family, to a family with nothing, not enough food to eat.   She found she could bring some comfort to her little brother by “imagining” that they were eating whatever he would most like (ice cream!).

Wikipedia:  Ono became an Japanese-American multimedia artist, singer, songwriter and peace activist.

The film connects Ono’s work to Lennon’s.   “Imagine” is about the power of conceptualizing.

In the last quarter of the film are the huge black-and-white billboards that carried the message of the “Imagine” album, in various languages in various countries.

From an interview in the film, roughly:

The New York billboard was in a prime location.  Huge.  Billboards all around selling something.  Full of color.  This stark, all white (black lettering) billboard, not selling anything.  

It was Yoko’s belief that people, if they wanted something strongly enough, could achieve it.   Happy Christmas (War is Over!).   Conceptual art.



Happy Christmas from John and Yoko

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ReMastered: Tricky Dick & The Man in Black

The other Peace vs War documentary film that helped re-energize me:   https://www.netflix.com/ca/title/80191051

“Johnny Cash didn’t like the idea of being used.”
This documentary chronicles Johnny Cash’s 1970 visit to the White House, where Cash’s emerging ideals clashed with Richard Nixon’s policies.
Cash turned the tables on Nixon.  He did not perform the 2 songs that the President requested.  Instead, a new song,  “What is Truth?“.   Johnny Cash and his wife had been in Vietnam 3 weeks prior to the White House Concert.  Lyrics at the bottom, scroll down.
There’s a good trailer at https://www.netflix.com/ca/title/80191051
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[Verse 1]
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

[Verse 2]
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

= = = =  = = = =  = = = =

Johnny Cash – What is Truth – YouTube  and Lyrics

The old man turned off the radio
Said, “Where did all of the old songs go
Kids sure play funny music these days
They play it in the strangest ways”
Said, “it looks to me like they’ve all gone wild
It was peaceful back when I was a child”
Well, man, could it be that the girls and boys
Are trying to be heard above your noise?
And the lonely voice of youth cries “What is truth?”
A little boy of three sittin’ on the floor
Looks up and says, “Daddy, what is war?”
“son, that’s when people fight and die”
The little boy of three says “Daddy, why?”
A young man of seventeen in Sunday school
Being taught the golden rule
And by the time another year has gone around
It may be his turn to lay his life down
Can you blame the voice of youth for asking
“What is truth?”
A young man sittin’ on the witness stand
The man with the book says “Raise your hand”
“Repeat after me, I solemnly swear”
The man looked down at his long hair
And although the young man solemnly swore
Nobody seems to hear anymore
And it didn’t really matter if the truth was there
It was the cut of his clothes and the length of his hair
And the lonely voice of youth cries
“What is truth?”
The young girl dancing to the latest beat
Has found new ways to move her feet
The young man speaking in the city square
Is trying to tell somebody that he cares
Yeah, the ones that you’re calling wild
Are going to be the leaders in a little while
This old world’s wakin’ to a new born day
And I solemnly swear that it’ll be their way
You better help the voice of youth find
“What is truth/”
Songwriters: Johnny R. Cash
What Is Truth lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC

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