John & Yoko
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Originally released in 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Wedding Album was the couple’s third experimental, album-length record, following Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins (1968) and Unfinished Music No. 2: Life with the Lions (1969), and one of the most remarkable of the duo’s testaments to an intense romantic and artistic partnership that would last fourteen years, until Lennon’s tragic passing in 1980.
As Lennon later recalled, the two artists first met in late 1966, when Ono was preparing an exhibition of her conceptual art in London. On March 20, 1969, John and Yoko were married in a civil service in Gibraltar. To celebrate the event, in lieu of a conventional honeymoon, the newlyweds spent a week in bed at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam, inviting members of the press into their room for interviews and photo sessions, and using their fame — as one of the Beatles, Lennon was one of the best-known musicians in the world — and the publicity generated by their “Bed-in” to call attention to their campaign for world peace.
Later, Lennon told Rolling Stone: “We decided that if we were going to do anything like get married that we would dedicate it to peace.”
With Wedding Album, Lennon and Ono created an enduring snapshot of a vibrant pop-cultural moment, with the hostilities of the Vietnam War as its bracing backdrop. Featuring “John & Yoko,” a call-and-response duet (John and Yoko calling out each other’s names seductively, playfully, and longingly over the sound of their own heartbeats); Yoko’s “John, John, Let’s Hope for Peace”; snippets of interviews with reporters; and John’s a cappella version of the Beatles’ song “Good Night,” Wedding Album captures the humor, earnestness, and spontaneity that marked the early years of the “Ballad of John and Yoko” era.
“In our way, we’re just announcing [that] we’re open to all invitations or suggestions to work for world peace,” Yoko says in Wedding Album’s side-two sound collage, “Amsterdam.” “We’re doing it in our way,” she says. When a reporter notes that some observers were “suspicious” of Lennon and Ono’s very public actions, she responds, “Let them criticize us.” But in their own ways, she adds, others should “do something” to encourage peace, noting, “All you need is courage.”
Wedding Album’s innovative, original packaging, created by graphic designer John Kosh, included a box filled with souvenirs of John and Yoko’s nuptials: photographs, a copy of the couple’s marriage certificate, Lennon’s and Ono’s own drawings of their wedding and Bed-in honeymoon event, a picture of a slice of wedding cake, and more. Years later, Lennon told the BBC: “It was like our sharing our wedding with whoever wanted to share it with us.”
Now, with a faithful recreation of Wedding Album in limited-edition, white-vinyl LP; compact disc; and digital-download formats, Secretly Canadian and Chimera Music are making one of the most unusual and emblematic recordings of the Sixties available again — fifty years after John and Yoko were married — to mark the golden wedding anniversary of two of the 20th century’s most emblematic cultural figures.
John & Yoko