Book Review: Read My Lips
Yoko Ono in pictures
Reviewed by Neph Basedow, Fri., May 29, 2015
See Hear Yokoby Bob Gruen & Jody Denberg
Harper, 192 pp., $39.99
Approaching Yoko Ono's 80th birthday, Austin radio linchpin Jody Denberg tapped rock photographer Bob Gruen with a novel gift idea. As Ono's personal lensman for 40-plus years, Gruen selected over 300 photographs he'd snapped, and Denberg chose quotes from his past interviews with her. Moved, Ono then urged the collaborators to publish their collection. Her handwritten thank-you note opens the hardcover, whose first glossies date back to 1971. The book's front half captures striking intimacy between the activist and her late husband, John Lennon, as accompanying text adds insight without detracting from compelling snapshots. A portrait of the couple with their newborn son, Sean, depicts the pair robe-clad and widely smiling; Gruen was the first to photograph the baby in the family's New York City home. A visible shift occurs post 1980, as shots no longer show Lennon at his wife's side. Vacationing with Sean in Bermuda, recording 1985 LP Starpeace, and forging various art shows, Ono comes alive in the remarkably intimate See Hear Yoko, which presents its subject in her myriad roles: muse, widow, mother, artist, and survivor. "Many different lives I had," she says on the book's final page. "Nine lives, maybe."