Richard Furnstein: An absolutely perfect single from the Beatles. "The Ballad of John and Yoko" is such a simple and fun throwaway that you can't imagine it making the cut on their albums; yet, it works perfectly as a anomaly in their catalog (and it is paired with the peerless "Old Brown Shoe").
Its delights are many, from the tropical breeze of the rhythm to the rock 'n roll ape piano. John wiggles his ass and throws Jesus Christ's name around all in the name of a lunkheaded pop number. Still, despite the parrothead trappings of this number, Lennon injects just enough self-importance ("think!") into the song to elevate it above similar Paul groovers like "Ob-La-Di."
Robert Bunter: Well, I don't know if I would go so far as to call this "absolutely perfect." We, the public, are meeting Lennon's latest incarnation for pretty much the first time here. In two short years we attempted to adjust ourselves to the psychedelic moustache-and-granny-glasses dreamweaver, followed rapidly by the terrifying, hollow-eyed malevolent spirit who haunts the White Album. Now, it's time for the weardo-beardo with his baffling wife, flying around the world in a white suit and babbling incoherently about "peace," which surely meant a hell of a lot coming from perhaps the most psychically violent human being on Earth. John's newfound self-importance grates, and the tune itself is mostly boilerplate shuffling. I don't think I ever consciously noticed the tropical undertones, however. Now that you mention it, I'm enjoying this song more. You know how I feel about tropical music.
Richard Furnstein: Much has been made of Paul and John's workmanlike collaboration on this number. Paul handled the drums (perfectly outfitted in sloppy snare static) and bouncy bass line while John provided the driving acoustics, piano, and the squirmish lead guitar bits. Tapes of these sessions reveal little of the joking or banter that highlight the early session recordings. Well, boo-hoo, these were men with serious haircuts and exotic foreign girlfriends that no longer had time to make dirty jokes for the benefit of a sniggering Mal Evans. The dream is over. Deal with the reality: three minutes of pure genius that drove idiot disc jockeys batty.
Robert Bunter: Yep. Forget about your pleasant monkeydreams, world. Wake up to the reality of a demented freak babbling to every media outlet who'd listen about how he and his inscrutable wife hold the secret to world enlightenment in a series of meaningless, fatuous slogans and then gets a persecution complex when the grey-suited 9-to-5-ers write unflattering articles. John Lennon is a lot like Jesus. That's the message of this tropical boogie.
Richard Furnstein: Mother, there's two strange men at the door. The one with the beard has a sack of acorns and an uncircumized penis. He wants to plant the acorns in our garden. The pudgy one with the dark hair just warbled at me and released a fly from her cupped hands.
Robert Bunter: A terrifying dream, to be sure. Is "garden" a metaphor for "drug diseased minds"?