Yoko Ono Felt ‘Guilty’ for Getting 1 of John Lennon’s Songs ‘Banned’

John Lennon‘s songs often featured Yoko Ono songs as B-sides. Yoko released a controversial song as the B-side to one of John’s classic tracks in the 1970s. John’s song became a modest hit in multiple countries. Subsequently, Yoko felt guilty that her “radical” nature prevented John’s song from finding greater success. 

John Lennon putting his arm around Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono and John Lennon | Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

A John Lennon song had a risque Yoko Ono song as its B-side

Yoko is known for her avant-garde art and music. For example, she produced a song called “Open Your Box.” The lyrics of the song are sexually charged and were very obscene by the standards of the early 1970s. “Open Your Box” served as the B-side to John’s classic single “Power to the People.” According to the book Lennon on Lennon: Conversations with John Lennon, Yoko discussed “Open Your Box” during a 1980 interview.

“I started to feel guilty because, for instance, he wrote a song called ‘Power to the People,’ which is a very powerful song, and then my ‘Open Your Box’ was on the B-side, and of course that was banned in America,” Yoko said. “And that sort of thing started to happen.”

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How Yoko Ono felt her song impacted ‘Power to the People’

Yoko worried she was doing John a “disfavor.” “So I felt that maybe I was doing a disfavor to him, in a way because, well, you know, he could be number one all the time, but now because he’s involved with somebody a bit radical or this and that, that he’s getting that … well, if you ban the B-side, you’re banning the single,” Yoko said.

Yoko had mixed feelings about collaborating with her husband. “And I was starting to feel guilty a bit,” she said. “But on the other hand, well, we did a lot of interesting things. We were having fun, as well.”

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How John Lennon’s ‘Power to the People’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

“Power to the People” was effectively banned in some places, but that didn’t stop it from becoming a hit. “Power to the People” reached No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for nine weeks. The song appeared on the compilation Gimme Some Truth. The Ultimate Mixes. The album reached No. 40 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for nine weeks.

“Power to the People” became even more prominent in the United Kingdom. According to The Official Charts Company, the song reached No. 7 in the U.K., lasting nine weeks on the chart. Meanwhile, Gimme Some Truth. The Ultimate Mixes reached No. 3 there and lasted on the chart for four weeks.

“Power to the People” became a hit even if Yoko thought she hindered its success.

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