When I was 14, I had a friend who played me what was, at that point, the craziest record I had ever heard.
It was called “Touch Me,” a single by Yoko Ono and The Plastic Ono Band. Jangly guitars and syncopated beats rang out of the speaker, and Yoko’s voice soared over them, a screaming thing unlike anything I had ever heard before.
I giggled, a little. I didn’t know how else to react.
But I didn’t laugh for long. The more I listened to her, the more I started to feel like here was someone who did things her own way and who wanted to say things in a way that was true to her. I bought albums like Season of Glass and Fly. And when I would meet people who liked her, it was like sharing a secret. A secret that we knew the goods about, that other people just didn’t get.
Ono’s career has followed many interesting waves. A tribute album to her came out in the mid-’80s, and the early 2000s saw a large interest in her recordings as remixes and collaborations of her old records were released by such artists as The Pet Shop Boys and Peaches.
In 2004, Ono even rereleased her song “Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him” as “Every Man Has a Man Who Loves Him” and “Every Woman Has a Woman Who Loves Her” in support of same-sex marriage.
And so today, on her 80th birthday, Down East would like to wish Yoko Ono a happy birthday and to extend thanks to her for doing what she does best: being open and honest in being herself.