dar williams denies the link between this song and the one by the barenaked ladies. so it's just a fishy coincidence, i suppose.

dar went to wesleyan college, where apparently yoko ono was more well-known and admired than john lennon. as she puts it, "...ethnomusicology, performance art, and experimental music set the vibe for the campus....Double Fantasy was called, by some, a 'Yoko Ono album with special guests.'" the song is sort of a retaliation to those who view her as a no-talent, controlling banshee who almost ruined john lennon's career.

The "Be My Yoko Ono"/"I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono" coincidence came up when Dar Williams appeared on Idiot's Delight on August 20, 2000 to discuss The Green World. The following is the relevant part of the conversation between Dar and show host Vin Scelsa.


Vin: That's Dar Williams live on Idiot's Delight, "I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono", one of the songs on the album called The Green World. Now... there was a song a coupla years ago by the Barenaked Ladies (murmured assent from Dar) called "You Can Be My Yoko Ono".

Dar: Right. (laughs)

Vin: ...and it's fun as a DJ to play them back to back, which is what I did last week on the show, but I have a feeling there's no relationship between them. It's not, you're not, like, answering the Barenaked Ladies?

Dar: No... I'm so embarrassed, 'cause it sounds like such a rebuttal, like "Oh yeah, Barenaked Ladies?" (Vin laughs)

But, um, I was asked to write a song for... Sherman Alexie's upcoming film---

Vin: Oh really?

Dar: ---based on Reservation Blues, and which is a sequel to Smoke Signals so I was so thrilled, and... they sent me the script, they gave me the parameters for the song that they wanted. But then I read the scene preceding the song I was supposed to write, and there was this thing about Yoko Ono breaking up the Beatles, y'know, the reference to "Yoko Ono is the person who broke up the Beatles"... and I went to, um, Wesleyan in Connecticut, where there was lots of performance art and experimental music, and Yoko Ono was a very different figure at Wesleyan than just the person who broke up the Beatles, she was kind of a celebrated person, and people knew her works, and (laughs)

Vin: That's not where she went to school, though.

Dar: ...No, she went to Sarah Lawrence, where your daughter is... John Cage... worked at Wesleyan for awhile, so he was... our guy... but she did sort of a groundbreaking art piece at Wesleyan, apparently, so she was sort of a hero in that...

Vin: She was accepted as the artist that she is---

Dar: Exactly.

Vin: ---and not as this pop figure who, quote, "broke up the Beatles".

Dar: Right, exactly... not someone who came into the pop world... she sort of came from a marginalized art form, but, you know, people like me find that to be an incredibly valid marginalized art form. So that's why I wrote "I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono". And I thought, "Oh God, somebody wrote 'Will You Be My Yoko Ono' and I thought, "Oh, well, it was probably some little band, I remember hearing it on the radio..." (laughs)

Vin: You didn't remember it was Barenaked Ladies.

Dar: Right---"Oh, Dar, it was Barenaked Ladies, you're in trouble."


Sorry this ran on for so long; at this point the conversation began to really drift into more general discussion of John Lennon and Yoko Ono (the latter has been a guest on Idiot's Delight) and what it means to live a meaningful life as a human as well as an artist, which I personally found fascinating but isn't really relevant here.

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