Yoko Ono: Celebrate John Lennon's Birthday Today with Peace.

Happy birthday, Mr. Lennon.

Yoko Ono sends the Boing Boing community a video (link updated), embedded above, and explains a project launching this week in honor of John Lennon's birthday, the "Imagine Peace Tower" in Iceland -- a country that could use a little extra compassion this week, for sure, given the harsh effects of the economic collapse there. More on the project:

On 9 Oct 2008, John Lennon’s birthday, Yoko Ono asks the people of Iceland to join her and many others across the rest of the world in praying for peace and stability.

At 8pm, as IMAGINE PEACE TOWER is illuminated on the island of Viðey, she asks everyone to join together and let the power of light and prayer become a collective expression of the desire for peace and harmony on our planet.

And Ms. Ono herself says, to all Boingdom:
Dear Friends

Please join me not only in remembering John on October 9th but also in spreading the message of peace. This is something that was so important to John - the fact that we could all work together for the positive good of our planet. He would have loved how we are all mobilizing ourselves in thought and in action. It's time for action and the action is peace!

with love, yoko

Yoko Ono 9 Oct 2008

More info, and how to participate: IMAGINEPEACE.COM.

Below: Ms. Ono also reminds us today of John's belief that War Is Over If You Want It.

UPDATE 12pm PT: Simon, who works with Ms. Ono, says: "We'll have a webcam up shortly to show the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER lighting up live at 8pm Reykjavik time (1pm LA, 4pm NY, 9pm Liverpool, 5am Tokyo)."


  1. Now I’m torn… on the one hand, Lennon was great and his dream would be nice.

    On the other hand, Yoko and EMI are busy running around using their financial muscle and rights to Lennon’s work to try and deprive documentary providers of their fair use rights.

    So now I’m leaning towards the side of “Yoko wants to boost sales of his songs on iTunes” rather than “Yoko wants us to follow Lennon’s ideals”.

  2. Clueless Wonder, you may be aptly named. I think that’s an unfair thing to say in this context. There are some very fair arguments to make about the music rights issues, and that’s a complex situation. But this isn’t some cheap publicity stunt, and that was an unnecessarily low blow. Give the lady some respect.

    I would suggest instead that you think of what you’d type here if she were reading, which she may well be. Perhaps there is a more constructive way to share thoughts about that set of issues — though, really, that’s not what this thread is about per se.

  3. Thank you, Xeni. Thank you, Yoko. And thank you John.

    The light tower is stunning as are the concepts behind it. I’m curious about the wind tunnel project she had written up in the notes. Cool ideas brought to fruition.

    When Yoko started singing, I thought it was Bjork… Guess the Icelandic scenery puts you in such a mind. The waterfalls, geysers and steam baths look amazing. All of that energy can be harnessed (hydroelectric, hydrothermic, etc.) Maybe Iceland will lead the world with its sustainable energy projects and create a new economy of clean energy… imagine.

  4. Yoko,

    Thank you for continuing, unwavering, to promote the dream and message of Peace that you and John began together. Your efforts continue to change hearts and minds all over the world. The legacy you and John have created is a beacon of light continuing to inspire hope and change for the betterment of all and will continue to do so down through the ages, I predict. The Imagine Peace Tower is a beautiful symbol of this love we share; of our combined wishes for a better world, reminding us of the best part of human nature. Thanks to you and John, we all shine on!

  5. nvr ndrstd th drtn f Jhn Lnnn.

    H wrt sm gd sngs. Plnty f trrbl ns t bt dd nthng tht knw f t ctlly hlp ppl. Cmpr wth Bb Gldf. K h wrt sm trrbl sngs nd sm nrly dqt sngs bt thsnds f ppl r lv tdy bcs f wht h dd.

    ls s t jst m r s wrng fr cts nd drvng rnd n wht Rlls Ryc jst bt chsy fr lft-wng pc ctvst?

    h nd s lng s ‘m rntng dn’t hv t mgn. Thr s n gd, hvn r hll blw.

  6. “This October 9th will be John’s 67th birthday.”

    John Lennon was born 9 October 1940. He’s 68.

  7. Wow. I didn’t expect the idea to be so emotional.

    And to the poster above, the “adoration” isn’t necessarily for the man himself – it is for the idea of peace and that someone was brave enough during those times to speak up for it.

  8. #6)”Also is it just me or is wearing fur coats and driving around in a white Rolls Royce just a bit cheesy for a left-wing peace activist?”

    It’s just you. The two parts of your sentence don’t seem to have any connection whatsoever to me.

    John Lennon was a symbol to a lot of people. That counts for something.

    Plus, “imagine” kicks ass.

    1. Re birthdate discrepancy — Guys, I goofed and embedded the wrong video. That video was produced last year, hence the date confusion. Try reloading and rewatching, we’ve embedded a newer piece that she did which was intended for the blog here. Apols!

  9. For all of you who have to complain about some actions that John and Ono once did or might be still doing that opposes your point of view: It does not matter – what matters is what you get out of it.
    If there is something that inspires you it is totally irrelevant from where it comes. I understood that I can learn something even from the most unlikely participant of our society, bums, lawyers and even IRS agents. Any spark that reaches me I purify (or muddy up) myself and make it my own. After that it is totally my own responsibility what happens with it. For example I can see the light tower as an inspiring idea or a publicity stunt – just look what you make out of your inner world if you choose to select the second…
    Do you really want this for yourself?


  10. JOhn Lennon, wrote some brilliant music.

    Other than that and his tragically early death, he really was not a good guy.

    He beat his first wife and gave her STDs, beat and ignored his son.
    Abandioned them married again and ignored but ignored the first son for the rest of his life.


    “Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed or hunger
    A brotherhood of man ”

    The guy had a whole apartment in the Dakota Building converted to a climate controlled envirionment for his and Yoko’s fur coats.

    Still he wrote some superb songs. Just don’t go along with the wilfully blinkered view of him.

  11. sorry, ERROR404, but you can say all the shit you want about him, and it won’t make a bit of difference to me.

    he was a human being, after all, with human problems and human mistakes. but the one thing he DID do correctly was stand for peace and justice in the world when it was not fashionable to do so. he turned his back on his career for a long time, and worked to make amends for some of the bad familial decisions he made earlier in his life, and he died a senseless death at a time when things were just starting to look solid for him again. you may be too young to remember his death, but i can tell you that as for me, it was probably the first time in my life that i felt a part of a global community. EVERYONE mourned his death, whether you cared about his music or not. i wish he were around to see this year’s political race. i have no doubt in my mind who he’d be backing and making music about.

  12. Damn, I thought I could stay out of this thread but…
    Franko, I am most definitely old enough. I was at college in London when he died and did not mourn his death. There goes “EVERYONE”.
    I resented the press when they said EVERYONE mourned Diana Spencer in much the same way. Nobody has the right to tell others what they feel.

    1. Wow, nem0fazer, you can’t take a hint. Or tk hnt, for that matter. Why don’t you take a vacation through the weekend and I’ll reinstate your account on Monday.

  13. Everyone’s just a bit of hyperbole for “a very great many people.”

    Everyone knows its not meant literally.


    No point in getting rankled up over such an uber-trivial matter. I’m assuming there are better things to get one’s panties in a wad over, since being inadvertently lumped in with “everyone” doesnt actually hurt or denigrate you in any way, shape or form.

    Also, it doesnt matter if he was a bad person. Its what he represented to a lot of people that mattered.

  14. Nemofazer @17, thank you for giving me permission to disemvowel someone who was telling the rest of the thread that they were wrong to feel the way they did.

    And have a nice day.

  15. for those who were not so fortunate as to grow up with John; study what is recorded, it has value to you too. May your generation have similar, and all those to follow.

  16. NEMOFAZER: You obviously don’t get it, but why insist on being a buzzkill to the rest of us who do? In applying your belief, or lack thereof, to the rest of us as fact, you are just as guilty of dogmatic application as the most zealous of the religious. Where does that get us?

    Though obviously not your cup of tea, Lennon is arguably one of the greatest songwriters of all time. As we honor the man, we also look at the fact that he chose to devote his life and enormous resources to his belief in making the world a better place in the best way he knew how instead of leading the life of a pop star playboy. I think Bob Geldoff would be the first to recognize this, and may not have had the courage to try to help others if the path had not been first trodden by Lennon and others like him.

    Lennon himself was very aware and outspoken about his contradictions, if you looked into his body of work, and in fact when he sang the line in Imagine “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can” he sometimes added “I’m trying.” He has said in interviews that he wrote that line, like much of his work, pointing the finger at himself.

    But rather than get into a flame war on a post about Peace, I offer to extend my hand to you. I would love to turn you on, as it were, to Lennon’s genius, if you would retain an open mind and heart. If you can’t, then you’re nowhere, man.

    ERROR404: “he really was not a good guy.

    What a good guy you are to disparage the guy on a celebration his birthday and such an enlightening post. What a good guy you are to speak so lopsidedly of someone who worked so hard to make the world a better place and who was assassinated for being so approachable by any man on the street?

    John was originally very insecure and had the courage to face it and admit it openly, because by the time he got together with Yoko, he was quite a different man. He wrote the line in Getting Better: “I used to be cruel to my woman. I beat her and kept her apart from the things she loved. Man, I was mean but I’m changing my scene and I’m doing the best that I can.”

    I have read at least 12 biographies on the man, and there is nothing about his beating Julian. Maybe you have read Cynthia’s mud-slinging, which can hardly be called unbiased. He was up front about his infidelities while a Beatle, and is not unique for possibly passing the relatively harmless STDs of the day to his spouse for a rock star. Context is everything. He did express a great deal of loss for focusing so much on his career at the start to have time for Julien, but this also was not unique for people of his day who have a bright career early on. It should also be mentioned that he only married Cynthia, his first wife, because she became pregnant with Julien, and he did not “ignore him” later in life. There are many documented instances of his reaching out to him and including him in his life, though divorced from his mother. The fact that you can say this comes from Lennon’s own admissions of guilt he had for not being there for him as much as he would have liked, upon reflection. How many under the microscope make such admissions?

    When you consider such a multifaceted individual, you must also take into account his early life. His father was a merchant seaman who left for good when he was five. When his father left, he was made to choose between his parents at that early age. At first he sided with his father, then at the last minute ran to be with his mum. He was soon after given to his aunt to be raised, as his mother could not really deal with being a mother. In his early teens, he finally started to get close to his mother again and then she was killed by a drunk driving off-duty policeman. These events scarred him deeply and it was a long time before he could deal with the issues that came from them.

    Nonetheless, he did find great courage to deal with his issues, to be blatantly honest about them, writing a lot of very insightful songs about his therapeutic process that have helped millions to get on the path to heal themselves. “No one can harm you. Feel your own pain. I found out.”

    I don’t know who you are comparing the man to in saying he was not a good person, but I think it takes a lot of guts to change when you start out so broken, and become an inspiration to the world in so doing. The one thing you hear again and again about him is that he was a very vulnerable person. How many in such a position are so open and unflinchingly honest about who they are and what they have done? I can’t think of anyone who quite matches him in this respect.

  17. I was born in October of 81, so I never even got a chance to share the earth with the guy, but Lennon is one of my favorite people and always will be.

    Happy birthday, John. You’ve been one of my heroes all my life BECAUSE of all the imperfections you had and your willingness to be up front about them. None of us are saints. You were honest.

    And if Yoko happens to read this, I wish you the best today. That’s a beautiful tower.

  18. @Phikus #23: A nitpick, but when Getting Better was released, John was still with Cynthia (although he had met Yoko prior to then). I’ve also heard vague things about ‘beating’ Julian, although usually in less violent terms.

    Also, the disemvowelling seems to increasingly be a way for mods to mark down opinions they don’t like rather than mark down trolls or flamers. Just my opinion, YMMV.

  19. ADONAI@28: Yes, he was indeed still married to Cynthia at the time he wrote those lyrics. I said nothing to the contrary. But since you are nit-picking, I guess I should have said he was a different man well before getting together with Yoko. Does that make it clearer for you?

    And a lot of vague things are said about famous people without any truth to them. Rather than repeat gossip, I try to stick to first-hand accounts by people who don’t have a vested interest in disparaging their name, or what can be corroborated by multiple sources.

    Good day, sunshine!

  20. sorry, nemo (@17) — i was using “everyone” to mean that, from my perspective, it was something that affected the entire world, and made me feel truly in touch with that. every television station, every magazine and newspaper, all my friends, their parents, other people i happened to run in to… it was all anyone could talk about, and people were genuinely shocked. it was truly a global thing.

  21. I’m 40 years old, I remember very clearly beign upset at the time of the shooting as I’d been listening to a lot of Beatles stuff at the time.

    I just didn’t accept that because he died that he was in some way a saint.

    I also never said he beat his son.

    I am always fascinated by the need some people have to construct a beatific view of a person who’s acting, singing,comedy they admire.

    Lennon was an amazing song writer and did some extraordinary work.

    This makes him a Saint no more than it makes him a plumber.

    Peter Sellers was a huge influence on me but I don’t think being funny made him a great man. nor Hunter Thompson nor anyone else.

    And also

    “stand for peace and justice in the world when it was not fashionable to do so”, well it was very fashionable, and very much so with the kids buying the records.

    Not saying he didn’t believe in it, but it was in no way unfashionable.

    All the best and such.

    Be good.


  22. You have to admire John and Yokos faith in the human race. It was (and still is) an undiminished, perpetual belief that man has the ability to put down all weapons and fists and live in peace for eternity. Those good vibes touch good people – but you can imagine ‘Conservatives’ writhing in their seats when they watch that footage.

    Unfortunately, I’m a big cynic. I think that dudes have it in them to be evil – and as power transfers across to women, so will they develop the will to wage war and to affect thousands or millions of people (read: Sarah Palin, Condoleezza Rice, Margaret Thatcher). I just think that it is one of the horrible truths in life, that there will always be one individual that has the ability to hurt/maim/kill (or give the order to), and that due to the inherent need for humans to group, those with similar abilities will come together.

    I think that humans are like a spectrum of good (liberal thinkers) and evil (conservative fascists) plus everything inbetween. The diversity of human nature seems to me to mean that violence is inevitable. I hate that fact, but it’s there and it’s irritating.

    Pascal had it right – “The sum of evil would be much diminished if men [and women named Sarah Palin] could only learn to sit quietly in their rooms”

  23. ERROR404: No one but you in this thread has said anything about Lennon being a saint. He himself would have been the first to refute this. Like FOURFIVEFIRE said @25: It is his humanity we celebrate. Now please quit flogging your straw Beatle.

  24. Remembering John’s birthday prompted me to start my own “61 SECONDS FOR PEACE” Initiative on YouTube.

    My video (just 61 secs log) features new music on the ukelele, an instrument beloved by John and also by George harrison. There’ll be another song along soon.


    Check it out and give yourself 61 seconds for peace. Pass it on & thanks.


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