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Remixed messages from Ono

June 13, 2004|Steve Hochman | Special to The Times

Back in 1980, Yoko Ono sang "Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him."

Recent cultural developments have led her to rethink and expand that sentiment.

The latest release in an ongoing Ono remix project adapts that song to cover all possible gender combinations: Every man has a man, every woman has a woman and every woman has a man, in addition to the original version from Ono and John Lennon's "Double Fantasy" album.

Ono recorded new vocal bits to make the lyric changes, then handed those and the original tracks from the song to producers and mixers the Basement Jaxx, Dave Aude, Ralphi Rosario, Murk, the Passengerz and DJ Vibe.

The results will be available through Apple's iTunes starting this week and will later be released by Mind Train Records, the New York label that has been behind the Ono remix project. In the last few years that undertaking has seen new mixes of such songs as "Walking on Thin Ice" become dance club hits. Also coming are remixes of "Hell in Paradise," an antiwar song from Ono's 1985 album "Starpeace" that now is being issued as a commentary about the situation in Iraq.

Oddly, given Ono's role as an outspoken social critic who regularly used music as a platform for commentary, she was reluctant to make musical statements now.

"It isn't like I was pushing for it," she says. "It's just very interesting that the timing was maybe appropriate, a time when people should be encouraged in doing something, taking action and feeling good about it. We are going to better the world and it's not going to be doomsday. It's fine. There's so much tension and fear and confusion and somehow I wanted to express it."

The impetus came from Rob Stevens, managing director of Mind Train and the producer of the remix projects.

"When we started in October 2001, we started putting out remixes of songs that were not as politically oriented as people remembered her being," he says. "In order to bring this new project to light, we didn't want to be encumbered by the old images people had of her. But the time has come where we can enter into realms that are more political and have them both be entertaining and express her point of view."

Ono believes that there is a renewed desire among young people to hear pointed yet hopeful messages in music.

"Love is something so scarce now that they want it," she says. "Through understanding the situations clearly and what we can do about it rather than being frightened and confused, I think we together will heal this world. It's a very beautiful future we're about to bring. It's very important that we know that, instead of just buying the most pessimistic stories."

Rollins is there

for the troops

There are few more outspoken critics of President Bush or the war in Iraq than Henry Rollins. Just check out his upcoming "Shock and Awe" DVD, recorded on a recent spoken-word tour.

But that hasn't stopped him from becoming a favorite for the USO to send to entertain the troops.

The former Black Flag singer has just returned from a trip to Iraq and Kuwait where he regaled soldiers with tales of Hollywood follies and the rock 'n' roll life. He did not, though, share his political views.

"I don't know whether it really is much of a tonic to the troops to go to Baghdad and tell them you think the war they're fighting is totally wasting their time, which is my opinion," Rollins says, noting that he was never given any restrictions by the USO on what he could say. "I'm not a fan of the war or of the president, but these are young people in the face of fire and they don't need to hear that from me. There's lots of other stuff to talk about."

"The USO is an apolitical organization," says Donna St. John, USO director of communications. "We don't question celebrities about their politics. When we know they want to volunteer their time and talents to show their support for the troops, we are pleased to be able to send them out on USO tours. It's important that our troops know that they are not forgotten, and entertainers who participate in USO tours remind them of that."

This was not Rollins' first USO trip. Last year he went to Afghanistan, and he'll head out again later this year to entertain troops stationed in Honduras.

Rollins, who has just started hosting a radio show on Indie 103.1 (KDLD-FM) on Monday nights at 7, knows that it's an odd match, but he's taken to it.

"They said, 'Troops like you, you know how to do this, you travel hard. You have carte blanche whenever you want to go.' I came back and said, 'Thank you sir, may I have another?' "

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