Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Alamy)

Music

Yoko Ono’s favourite John Lennon song of all time

Yoko Ono is one of the most famous figures in music. The wife of John Lennon has been long and mistakenly regarded as the driving force that caused the split of The Beatles. Aside from this life-altering rumour, she’s also an accomplished musician, artist, and philanthropist in her own right. Duly, Ono had already established herself as a celebrated visual artist years before she’d met The Beatles frontman. 

However, since The Beatles parted ways in 1970, many have pigeonholed Ono as the one who broke up the biggest band in the world, making her face unprecedented fan and media backlash, which contributed to the pair’s decision to emigrate to America. 

In terms of standing in popular culture, Ono’s status would be revised in the mid-’90s, when the days of The Beatles had long passed into ancient history. Famously, in 1995, Paul McCartney put aside any differences he may have had with Ono to work on the track ‘Hiroshima Sky Is Always Blue’, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombs being dropped on Japan.  

Art as survival: Yoko Ono before The Beatles

Read More

McCartney said, “I thought she was a cold woman. I think that’s wrong… she’s just the opposite… I think she’s just more determined than most people to be herself.” This was the starting point of Ono getting the respect that she’d long deserved. 

Part of this wave of revisionism on Ono came with her 2007 appearance on BBC Radio 4’s flagship show, Desert Island Discs. We saw a candid side of Ono during this revealing appearance that dispelled many myths. Interestingly, the way she picked songs was about aiding her journey in life, rather than concentrating on the music, reflecting her left-field and complex perception. 

Following the trajectory of her life, the songs complimented her oscillating existence, and it made one of the most captivating episodes the programme has ever broadcast. She discussed her early years in Japan, being born into the upper echelons of society, and then the contrasting experience that followed after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. She also shed light on her career and the effect that Lennon’s murder had on her and their son, Sean’s life. 

Picking her favourite song by John Lennon, she chose ‘Beautiful Boy’ from Lennon and Ono’s 1980 album Double Fantasy, the last one released before his death. Weirdly, McCartney also chose the song when he appeared on Desert Island Discs in 1982. 

There’s no real surprise that Ono picked ‘Beautiful Boy’. It evokes the close bond that John and Sean shared. When Sean was born, Lennon quit music to become a full-time parent, caring for Sean, and then returned to music when the child was five. Lennon penned the song for Sean only a few months before his murder, showing the deep love he held for his son. 

Ono explained, “Well, I like most of John’s songs… I like them all, actually…But I really appreciate the fact that John made this song for Sean.” You can only imagine the profound connection Ono has to the song. When Lennon whispers, “Goodnight Sean, see you in the morning” after saying, “Darling, darling, darling Sean” the bond with his son is made remarkably palpable to listeners. 

A heartbreaking song, given what happened to Lennon, ‘Beautiful Boy’ remains a fan favourite of John Lennon‘s. His honest ode to his son will long be spoken about as one of the most significant songs the former Beatles man ever penned. 

Listen to ‘Beautiful Boy’ below.