"I WANT to thank Michelle Obama for my style. Michelle has been my inspiration. I am studying her oeuvre. Her oeuvre is fascinating. Oh, and if anybody can tell me what oeuvre means, I'd appreciate it."
That was Sean Lennon, onstage at Le Poisson Rouge last Saturday night, before he introduced his mother, Yoko Ono. I don't know if anybody explained to Sean what oeuvre means -- or why he thinks he has the first lady's style -- but one guy standing in the crowd did shout out, "Well, whatever you think it means, you are mispronouncing it!"
Then Sean good-naturedly and affectionately introduced his legendary mother. It was Yoko's 79th birthday. Sean said, "Instead of just going out for good food at some quiet place, as usual, my mother said, 'this year, I just want to rock the place down!' So, here she is to rock this place down!"
Yoko -- looking youthful and petite -- appeared in her standard all-black ensemble, dark shades and a jaunty little hat. She took in the roar of her assembled fans and their birthday greetings, but she said, "The thing is, I'm already thinking about the next one, only 12 months to go!" And then Yoko let loose. Her voice, her sound, has always been unique, and not universally admired. At least not back in the day. But her primal singing/songwriting/performing has been reclaimed by a younger generation. Her voice is astonishingly strong. The crowd loved her!
One charming aspect of the celebration was the presence of small trees (or large plants -- the place was dark.) All the guests were handed little cards on which they were instructed to write one word for Yoko's birthday. There were a lot of "Love" cards. But others read "Peace," "Flow," "Glow," "Art," "Forever" and other words representing Yoko's undeniable place in history, and her strong sense of self and survival. I wrote the word "Courage," which Yoko has in spades.
Oh, and the bond between Yoko and her son seems strong and loving. He was clearly proud to be onstage with his remarkable mother. She was equally proud and happy to have him there.
Perhaps later that night she explained oeuvre to him.