John Lennon’s Controversial Comparison of Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney
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John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s relationship stirred significant controversy and divided public opinion during their time together. Some people had a strong negative reaction to Yoko Ono, primarily due to her association with the Beatles and her perceived influence on Lennon.
Many fans believed that her involvement in the band contributed to their eventual breakup. The couple’s public displays of affection and unconventional behavior, such as their “bed-ins” for peace and experimental art projects, also raised eyebrows.
“There were we like two angels in bed, with flowers all around us, and peace and love on our heads.”#OnThisDay, 25th March 1969, John & Yoko began their first Bed-In for peace at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel. pic.twitter.com/jCrl9Vz6W7
— John Lennon (@johnlennon) March 25, 2018
Despite all of this, Lennon remained steadfast in his love for his muse, until his tragic death in December 1980.
During a 1980 interview in the book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Lennon revealed a controversial take about the flak Yoko was getting: he compared the latter to Paul McCartney’s then-wife Linda McCartney.
“You know Linda has taken the same kind of shellacking Yoko got and we have a deep sympathy for her because we know what she’s been through,” he said.
Yoko and Linda
Lennon felt it was a crying shame that Linda and Yoko were being treated badly during their relationship with their famous Beatle spouses.
“Linda got the same kind of insults, hatred, absolute garbage thrown at her for no reason whatsoever other than she fell in love with Paul McCartney,” John added.
THE PUBLIC’S HORRIBLE REACTION TO LENNON’S MARRIAGE TO YOKO
Lennon’s final book, Skywriting by Word of Mouth, which was published after his death gave some more light to the public backlash of his marriage to Yoko Ono.
The book was a peculiar amalgamation of brief narratives, sketches, and an autobiographical account. Within this literary piece, John wrote an autobiographical section titled “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, where he illuminated aspects of his marriage to Yoko Ono and the negative reception it garnered.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono taken by Lilo Raymond, 1980. pic.twitter.com/3mQNVkeXXS
— The Nowhere Fans (@thenowherefans) September 16, 2023
John disclosed that the response to his union with Yoko was notably harsh. Many critics targeted Yoko’s physical appearance. John mentioned that Yoko struggled to comprehend this, as she had been widely regarded as beautiful in Japan. They even received hate mail. John expressed his dismay at the way the British people reacted to his marriage, feeling a sense of shame for his homeland.
John wrote, “I shouldn’t have been surprised by the outpouring of racial hatred and misogynistic sentiments that we encountered in the bastion of democracy, Great Britain, including the now-reformed Michael Caine, who commented along the lines of ‘I don’t understand why he doesn’t find a nice English girl!'”
“I MARRIED A NEW YORK DIVORCEE WITH A CHILD, AND AT THE TIME THEY DIDN’T LIKE THAT”
Although Linda was not lambasted as badly as Yoko, she also suffered much from the vitriol the public against her.
In an article published in 2004, when he was married to former model Heather Mills, Paul McCartney lamented that the public has always hated him and his wives ever since he “gave up” on his former girlfriend, the actress and cookery writer Jane Asher.
“I married a New York divorcee with a child, and at the time they didn’t like that,” Paul said of his marriage to Linda after he left Asher.
BEATLES PEOPLE: Jane Asher rarely talks about her relationship with Paul. She rose to fame as a panelist on Juke Box Jury and would go on to date McCartney soon after. It is said that Paul wrote ‘You Won’t See Me’ about Asher.
— Beatlemania (@BeatlemaniaUK) June 2, 2022
When Linda died in 1998 and Paul married Mills in 2002, things became worse. “This time around, I married a younger woman, and they didn’t like that. It reminds me of the stick Linda got.”
Apart from their marriage, fans and critics also didn’t like it when Paul included Linda in his post-Beatles musical pursuits, particularly when his then-wife got involved with Wings.
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) April 26, 2018
The former Beatle defended Linda and said: “I taught Linda the basics of the keyboard … She took a couple of lessons and learned some bluesy things … she did very well and made it look easier than it was … The critics would say, ‘She’s not really playing’ or ‘Look at her—she’s playing with one finger.’ But what they didn’t know is that sometimes she was playing a thing called a Minimoog, which could only be played with one finger. It was monophonic.”
But Former Wings guitarist Henry McCullough also criticized Linda’s time with Wings. “Trying to get things together with a learner in the group didn’t work as far as I was concerned,” McCullough once said.
Lennon said women in the press were partly to blame
John attributed some of this animosity to some of the members of the media. He remarked, “It’s a reflection of the mindset of individuals in the media who should possess greater awareness. I mean, they’re well-educated, aren’t they? Yet, they can display such narrow-mindedness and pettiness.”
Lennon wrote that the has stooped to insulting on such a personal level and bringing up physical appearances and the like. Something the media can’t do to anyone, regardless of gender, face to face.
PAINTING TO HAMMER A NAIL, 1966 pic.twitter.com/bFS1cqbPXP
— Yoko Ono (@yokoono) September 15, 2023
“I mean, how could they? Such actions only fueled the public’s adoption of such an attitude.” According to John, women working in the press were partially responsible for the disdain directed at Yoko and Linda, as he believed that women often hindered other women.
Yoko, on the other hand, had a contrasting perspective on the situation. She found it astonishing that her detractors became so engrossed in the lives of others. Yoko expressed a desire for people to focus more on their own affairs.
The Ballads of Yoko and Linda
Despite the vilification of the marriage of Yoko to John, it’s crucial to acknowledge the genuine love and artistic collaboration between the two artists. Their creative partnership led to some iconic music and art, like Imagine and Double Fantasy. They used their fame to advocate for peace and social justice causes, which resonated with many.
The pair also used their fame to advocate for peace and social justice causes, which resonated with many.
John, in particular, penned many poignant songs for Yoko, such as “Dear Yoko”, “I’m Losing You”, “Oh Yoko!”, and “The Ballad of John and Yoko”. From the titles themselves, one can infer how much Lennon loved his wife.
In contrast, Yoko also inspired McCartney to write songs about her, though they were not exactly out of love. The most famous was “Get Back”, which was said to be about the band members’ wish that John’s ever-present muse would “get back to where she once belonged.”
Paul was married to Linda for almost three decades, and it’s hard to imagine for the Beatle to not pen some classic songs for his beloved.
Some of them were “The Lovely Linda”, “Two of Us”, “Maybe I’m Amazed”, and the beautiful “My Love”