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Freaky Friday: Two Virgins

Posted by purplemary54 on May 9, 2014

Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins is the first recorded collaboration between John Lennon and Yoko Ono.  Lennon had become enamored with both Ono and her work after visiting one of her gallery shows.  They had not yet married, and the Beatles had not broken up.  But Two Virgins signaled a clear shift in Lennon’s artistic direction.

This is only music in the loosest sense, but it is pretty radical stuff.  Sound effects, repeated noises, screaming, and an overall feeling of chaos are jarring to people expecting the Beatles.  Two Virgins was not popular with a lot of fans.  But listening to it now, it’s easy to see how ahead of its time this work was.  This album, as well as Unfinished Music No.2:  Life with the Lions and Wedding Album were explorations in a very personal aural landscape.

On one level, the work is somewhat self-indulgent.  Lennon and Ono seemed to be doing whatever appeals to them with no real thought to listeners.  But I think that’s also part of the point.  The inward-looking nature of these sounds, the intimacy of just the two of them recording together, creates a very strange psychological landscape.  And although it is rather personal in nature, I think there’s still room for the listener to gain something from the experience.  The repetition is meditative for me.  My love of John Lennon is no secret, so I will readily concede my bias here.  But I think this is the kind of thing that could be played in a dark auditorium or art gallery as part of an installation.  It might not be for everyone, but I find the experimentation of Two Virgins mind-opening.

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2 Responses to “Freaky Friday: Two Virgins”

  1. 45spin said

    I brought this album to my high school art class to prove to my teacher that I had taste. As this was 1971 and my art teacher was kinda hippie like I assumed that this would prove to her that I cool (I wasn’t at all) Instead I received a lecture about women’s rights and feminism and that John & Yoko had very poor taste. Nice post

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