Purple Clover: The Ballad of John and Yoko

In Jane Austen’s day, the universally acknowledged truth was that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. Today, the truth goes something like this: A single man in possession of rock star status will date and marry a supermodel, an actress or a woman who looks like one. As Simon Le Bon purportedly replied when asked why rock stars marry models, “The same reason dogs lick their balls. Because they can.”

And then there was John and Yoko.

Like any good, surly adolescent, I hated superficiality. I also had zero chance of becoming a model, an actress, or a woman who looked like either. Perhaps if it were otherwise, I might not have resented the focus on women’s beauty and sexuality. But however my values were formed, I fell in love with John falling in love with Yoko.

Yoko looked nothing like a supermodel — certainly not in the unreconstructed ’70s and ’80s, when a black woman appearing on the cover of Vogue was headline news. Her beauty was unconventional and, to make matters worse, she was an artist and she spoke her mind. These sins made her hated, even before she was accused of “breaking up the Beatles.”

But I have this functional mechanism that ignores noise I don’t like to hear. This was fortunate, because what people said about Yoko Ono in those decades was shocking and offensive — “John Rennon’s Excrusive Gloupie,” is how an Esquire headline referred to her. Yoko is reviled until this day, like by the idiot members of the “Yoko Should Have Died Instead of John Lennon” Facebook group.

I couldn’t hear any of that. All I could see was a couple who broke the pedestrian rules of pop culture and transcended the one-dimensional facade. John didn’t fall in love with external beauty like so many of his peers. Only the two people involved can understand the fabric of their connection, but to me, it seemed like there was substance to this relationship, and that they had something spiritual. Read more…

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