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Ono mines Lennon library for acoustic disc

‘Acoustics’ features live, home recordings of ex-Beatle's classic songs
/ Source: The Associated Press

Yoko Ono knows she could probably release old recordings of John Lennon yodeling and there would be market for it.

Outtakes, musical flubs or subpar recordings may generate sales, but Lennon’s widow says would never release such material. She’s always been choosy about what the public hears from her late husband’s musical archives.

“People have tried to make me do that — like people will love it anyway, and I’m not doing it,” Ono told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. “I know how astute John was and John would have hated to have been seen in that light. He wanted to just bring out things that he felt was good enough.”

Ono feels the previously unreleased material on the new album “Acoustic” lives up to the Beatle’s high standards. The disc, released this week, simply features Lennon and his guitar on live renditions of classics such as “Imagine” and “Watching the Wheels,” as well as versions of songs that he recorded in his home.

“He was just such an incredible guitarist and most people don’t know that,” Ono said. “Just the way he picks the guitar is so beautiful, you would think that he had training in Spanish classical guitar or something.”

The album came about after organizers of a Lennon event in Japan approached Ono about putting out some of his acoustic work on CD. Ono selected live tracks from other Lennon albums, but also listened to some of his home recordings — mostly done in his bedroom, with few people around — and thought “maybe I could do something about this.”

Although Lennon recorded some songs on piano, Ono found those unusable.

“The balance between the piano and the sound was totally off,” she said, blaming the placement of the microphone atop the piano. “The sound was drowning his voice, and there was nothing I could do about it.”

The guitar tracks were more pleasing to the ear, and engineers worked to make them CD worthy.

The “Acoustic” CD is being released here on Capitol Records, along with the re-release of another John Lennon album, 1975’s “Rock ’n’ Roll.”

Lennon was shot to death in 1980 at age 40. Ono knows there is an insatiable market for his music, but she’ll continue to be careful about what she releases from his creative vaults.

“I do know that there are more songs that I have, but they’re all very important songs,” she said, “and they have to be put out in a way where it’s not just scratching the bottom of the barrel.”