Yoko Ono – Death Of Samantha

15th December 2023 · 1970s, 1973, Music

I’ve never listened to anything by Yoko Ono. I grew up hearing the propaganda line that she “broke up The Beatles” and subsequently formed an uninformed opinion that her music was experimental rubbish.

For all I know, some of it is. But yesterday something led me to her 1973 album Approximately Infinite Universe and this track, Death Of Samantha, blew me away.

The song itself, written by Ono, has a bluesy vibe not dissimilar to Annette Peacock’s jazz-flavoured excursions on X-Dreams, and was provoked (according to Sean Lennon) by Lennon cheating on her at a US election night party in 1972: trying her best to remain a “cool chick,” she confesses: “Something inside me died that day.”

Far from the shrieking I somehow expected, Ono sings it, sweetly, soulfully and sadly, with a resigned anger in her hushed words, the emotion enhanced by those lovely liquid lead guitar lines played by a fellow called Wayne Gabriel.

He and the rest of the musicians are in a New York band called Elephant’s Memory who seem doomed to be best remembered – if at all – for their collaborations with John and Yoko.

Anyway, I’m excited to have discovered this song, which has been covered not only by progsters Porcupine Tree but also by Boy George – on his own and a dubwise version with Sinead O’Connor singing.

And now I shall listen to more of Yoko Ono.