John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band: “Power To The People” (1971)

John’s emancipation proclamation for women and workers. Right on, indeed.

Kronomyth 5.5: He says he wants a revolution.

Power to the people, right on! Not the people in power, or the people who voted for the people in power, but those other people. No, not the lazy ones who didn’t vote. To the right of them. The malcontents who voted for the loser last time. Those people. Seems like a good idea in theory, and then one day you wake up and pumpkinhead is president.

I never liked the politics of this song. Power is a gun, and you can argue endlessly that it’s a deterrent and not a weapon, but no one ever uses it that way. Musically, this song is another of John Lennon’s anthems, and I didn’t enjoy any of those except “Woman is the Nigger of the World.” Brilliant track, that.

The B side was Yoko Ono’s controversial “Open Your Box,” which was banned in the UK. The US single featured a different song in its place, “Touch Me” from Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band. “Open Your Box” and “Touch Me” are both pretty amazing avant-garde compositions and make a strong case for considering Yoko as a serious artist. It’s too bad she began writing pop songs instead, since her strengths clearly lie in the field of musique concrète.

Original 7-inch single

A1. Power To The People (John Lennon) (3:15)
B1. Open Your Box (Yoko Ono) (3:25)

Original 7-inch single (US)
A1. Power To The People (John Lennon) (3:15)
B1. Touch Me (Yoko Ono) (3:40)

The Players

John Lennon (vocals, guitar), Yoko Ono (backing vocals, piano), Rosetta Hightower (backing vocals, handclaps), Bobby Keys (saxophone), Billy Preston (piano, keyboards), Klaus Voormann (bass), Alan White (drums). Produced by Phil Spector & John & Yoko (A1), John & Yoko (B1).

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single on March 12, 1971 in the UK and Denmark (Apple, R 5892), on March 22, 1971 in the US and Canada (Apple, 1830) and in 1971 in Argentina (Odeon, 8702), Australia (Apple, 9488), Belgium (Apple, 4C 006 04766), Brazil (Apple, 7-BT-51), Chile (Apple, APPLE-26), France (Apple, 2C 006-04766 M), Germany (Apple, 1C 006-04 766), Ireland (Apple, R(I)5892), Israel (Parlophone, R 5892), Italy (Apple, 3C 006-04766), Jamaica (Parlophone, R 5892), Japan (Apple, AR-2773), the Netherlands (Apple, 5C 006-04766), Spain (EMI Odeon, J 006-04.766) and Sweden (Apple, E006-04766) with regional picture sleeve. Reached #7 on the UK charts (charted on March 20, 1971 for 9 weeks) and #11 on the US charts (charted on April 3, 1971 for 9 weeks).

  1. Re-issued on 7-inch single in 1978 in the US (Capitol, 1830).
  2. Re-issued on 7-inch single in 1981 in Japan (Apple, EAS-17124) with picture sleeve.

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