Yoko Ono is not making fans of John Lennon very happy right now. She's been busy editing Lennon's videos and changing songwriting credits. Call it her revenge on old enemies like Paul McCartney and May Pang.
Ono's weirdest piece of video trickery comes on the recently released DVD "Lennon Legend: The Very Best of John Lennon." On one film, for the classic song "#9 Dream," Ono has edited herself into the original video. There you will find her mouthing the backup vocals that were sung on the original hit recording by Lennon's girlfriend at that time, May Pang.
Pang, of course, was not thrilled to hear this had happened. "She is trying to erase everyone who had anything to do with John with her alone," says Pang, who is a popular figure in the New York music scene. "I am definitely upset at her misleading everyone into thinking she is on '#9 Dream.' She had nothing to do with this particular album and it was John's only No.1 album and No. 1 single during his lifetime. Boy, do I understand how Paul feels."
And how does Paul feel? Well, no one's been able to ask him yet, but apparently Ono has dropped his name from the songwriting credit on "Give Peace a Chance." The song was written by Lennon only, but at the time the songwriting duo was still putting their two names on everything.
Last year, in his own bid for more immortality, McCartney wanted Ono to let him drop Lennon's name from the Beatle songs he didn't write. When that didn't work, McCartney reversed the traditional order so they read "McCartney-Lennon." Now it seems Ono — who took umbrage at McCartney — has gotten her revenge.
As for the DVD, another source points out that Ono also edited herself in the video for "Stand By Me." "It should now be called 'Sit By Me,'" quips the insider.
None of this comes as any surprise to those who saw the TNT tribute to Lennon in the fall of 2001. Ono edited all the footage of Lennon from his Beatle days so that none of the other Fab Four appeared. And no reference to the Beatles was ever made, as if Lennon had simply arrived on the scene singing "Imagine." Imagine that.
It looked kind of dicey last night for Cyndi Lauper when she hit the stage at the Beacon Theatre. First of all, the big vertical zipper on the back of her sexy leather skirt would not stay down. Every time Lauper leapt, the zipper went with her. That can be distracting when you're trying to show off your amazing vocal range on serious songs.
Then there were all kinds of problems with the sound on stage (even though it was excellent in the theater). Lauper thought the piano was too loud, and she had trouble hearing herself. Some of the arrangements fell apart, and reconstructed themselves spontaneously without missing a beat. A mic stand was left too low by a roadie, causing Lauper to roll her eyes as she maneuvered it to the proper height.
A lesser woman would have freaked. Madonna would have sued someone. But Lauper turned her lemons into lemonade. She gave such a super-charged performance that it may have been the best of her career.
Mixing songs from her wonderful new album, "At Last" with her old hits, Lauper turned the Beacon into a coming home party. She hasn't played as the featured act in New York to such a large crowd for some time. In recent years she's opened for Cher or Tina Turner at the Garden. Her own shows have been at smaller venues like Joe's Pub. But she had no trouble filling the Beacon to the walls with wildly enthusiastic fans. A very skilled band, including a jivey three-piece horn section, backed her with no digital processes at hand.
Back in the mid 1980s, there was a watershed article in the New York Times comparing Lauper to Madonna as the two singers, then fairly new, were releasing their second albums. The article suggested that Lauper would become a superstar, and that Madonna was a flash in the pan. But who knew then that Lauper would make some key career mistakes thanks to a bad manager (and now ex-husband)? The result was a great talent gone off-course, and a career gone awry.
You'd never know any of this by the show last night at the Beacon. Lauper's stunning voice, admired by many other star singers, has only grown richer and more textured. She's taken the Joe's Pub show — with genuinely funny reminisces and ad-libbed observations — and fleshed it out for the bigger room. Now she mixes sophisticated arrangements of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" with glorious renditions of standards like Etta James' "At Last" and Aretha Franklin's "Until You Come Back to Me."
She even does a tribute to Louis Armstrong with a sort of Cajun-Latin version of "On the Sunny Side of the Street." This won particular raves from Lee Newman, the grandson of Jimmy McHugh, the songwriter of that hit. (Newman's other grandfather, trivia buffs, was Eddie Cantor.)
"I flew in from Los Angeles just to hear you sing it," said Newman to Lauper after the show. "Thank you for singing my grandfather's song."
Also in last night's audience: "Law & Order: SVU" star Chris Meloni, and Lauper's mother, who was unwitting foil for many of Cyndi's humorous anecdotes about growing up in Queens in the 1960s.
"Don't ever meet the people you idolize," she advised the audience, after telling a story about The Monkees' Davy Jones. "They'll never live up to your expectations."
"We love you, Cyndi!" shouted a bunch of fans from the balcony.
"Thank you," she said in a sweet, self-effacing voice, "but you don't have to live with me." That is left to Lauper's husband, David Thornton ("John Q," "A Civil Action") and their 6-year-old son Declyan.
Tonight, Lauper will play the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., then drive all night — to quote one of her hits — to see Declin play in a school hockey tournament. That much has changed since her days with Blue Angel circa 1980. But nothing else — not the voice, and not the dancing. Lauper hurls herself around the stage, into the audience, and up onto the tops of gigantic speakers with more grace and agility than singers half her age, all the while singing and not missing a beat. Forget the Madonna article all those years ago. This is Cyndi Lauper's year. At last.
I'm not a particular fan of the ABC soap, "General Hospital," but it's kind of amusing these days to watch the network's much loathed head of daytime, Brian Frons, destroy what's left of it. After first firing Rachel Ames, the only actress who'd been with the show from day one, then axing 90-year-old actress Anna Lee, who plays matriarch Lila Quartermaine, Frons has now turned his attention to the show's patriarch, Edward Quartermaine, played by 75-year-old John Ingle. Ingle has been fired after 10 years' service, as has Kin Shriner, 45, who's played Scotty Baldwin since 1977. Frons seems to be in a race with NBC's "Days of Our Lives" to see which soap can be killed off fastest. Soaps traditionally build their audience on characters and consistency, but in a youth-driven market that dog evidently does not hunt. "GH" stars Jackie Zeman, Stuart Damon, and Leslie Charleson — all with 25 years tenure — are thought to be next. Of course, when Frons is fired — oft rumored of late — ABC will have to go find his victims and beg their forgiveness... Thanks to the New York Post for picking up our exclusive story about Michael Jackson coming under the influence of the Nation of Islam. Though we were ID'd as "the Fox News website," we appreciate the mention. Tomorrow, Jackson's friends, fans, and family gather at Neverland before Michael jets off to London. I said to a friend at the BBC, "that's because he thinks the English people don't care about the accusations." The quick retort: "Oh yes we do."