I know what you must be thinking: “’The Ballad of John and Yoko, part two’? I don’t remember reading part one!” That’s easily explained- there isn’t a ‘part one’. At least, not one you’ll see on this website. The title of this article is taken from the Beatles song of the same name. Since this week marks the 36th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon, I wanted to pay tribute to him by writing this article.
I was just two months shy of my tenth birthday when John Lennon was shot and killed outside of his Manhattan apartment by Mark David Chapman. I was devastated. I was a huge fan of the Beatles, virtually since I could walk, and John was always my favorite member of the group. I remember crying that entire day, playing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band,” my favorite Beatles album, over and over, all day long.
As much as I would love to write about all the joy his music brought me throughout my life, it really has nothing to do with why I wanted to write this. Nope, this is about John and his wife, Yoko Ono.
Like almost everyone, I never liked Yoko Ono very much, and for the same two reasons everyone else does- she broke up the Beatles and I could never understand what John saw in her. At the time they met, John was married to his first wife, Cynthia Lennon, whom he divorced not long after he met Yoko. You could almost say that Yoko broke up the marriage considering Cynthia caught them in bed together, but I tend to think that John was responsible for his own actions, so he’s more to blame for his marriage falling apart than Yoko is.
As far as her involvement in the break-up of the Beatles, the truth is, she really had very little to do with it. The group was constantly under pressure to produce new music for their record label, they were having money troubles, under poor management after the death of Brian Epstein, and their new business venture, Apple Corps, was a dismal failure. Granted, Paul, George and Ringo resented having Yoko constantly at John’s side in the studio, but again, that was more of an annoyance than a divisive presence to the group.
In general, when you look John and Yoko, the first thing that pops into your head is, “What the Hell did he ever see in her?” I mean, here’s a guy who virtually conquered the world with his music and could literally choose from any woman on the planet, so why would he choose to be with a homely woman who is nowhere near as talented as he is?
I realized the answer when I was listening to the song, “Woman” from John’s last album, Double Fantasy. It’s easily enough understood that John wrote it as a tribute to the love he felt for his wife, but it’s a lot more than that- it’s a tribute to his soulmate, which is what Yoko Ono was to John Lennon.
“Woman” is less about John Lennon’s love for Yoko than what she inspired in him. He was expressing the thoughts and feelings she invoked- the beauty and emotion in his heart. Yoko Ono was his muse- the one thing that made him better at his calling than anything else in life ever could be.
I doubt John would ever use the term, ‘soulmate’- he would have considered it too small a word to describe what he felt for Yoko, and in truth, it is. A soulmate is a generic term people use to describe the kind of love two people share who are completely in sync, but in reality, it goes way beyond that.
It’s the sort of bond two people have where they are connected in a way that is neither easily explained nor understood. Once those two people are connected, it’s on a level where they are a part of each other, where they can feel what the other is thinking. That’s why when they say, “you just know” when you find them. The only problem is, people mistake an immediate connection for soulmate love, but it has nothing to do with that. The way you really know is because when you look in that person’s eyes, you see something of yourself in them, and it becomes quickly apparent that they already know you in a way no one else ever will. It’s a spark you feel between you that never dies out- a bond that can never be broken by time, distance, or circumstance.
A hopeless romantic will think they can meet someone, have that immediate attraction, and call that person their soulmate, but that’s not how it works. You don’t get to pick your soulmate- it’s not simply about physical attraction; it’s a connection on a spiritual level, where two hearts recognize their counterpart in one another.
When those two hearts come together, they’re like two pieces of a puzzle that complete the picture. They fit seamlessly.
When you fall in love with someone, your natural response is to become the best version of yourself, but eventually, that feeling fades. When you meet the person you’re meant to be with, they already bring out the best in you- they inspire it, simply by virtue of being a part of your life. It’s not a choice you make; it’s something that’s already there. It’s only been awakened within you.
Do you really think John Lennon could have written something as beautiful as “Imagine” without Yoko Ono? I’m pretty sure even he would say no.
Or, as Moliere once wrote, “The great ambition of women is to inspire love.”
Rest easy, John. You are missed.