In the history of rock ‘n’ roll, no album has been more maligned, misjudged, and misunderstood than John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Sometime In New York City which was released at the height of the women’s rights movement, civil rights activism, the gay rights movement, resistance to the Vietnam conflict, the shenanigans of the Nixon Administration, and the insanity that is the American prison industrial complex – among other issues which sadly, still resonate to this day.
To my ears this is John Lennon’s greatest solo work. John and Yoko pulled no punches and risked everything in speaking truth to power. At the time, the establishment – including most of the rock press, were infuriated with the Lennons. However at the age of 12 in June of 1972, I saved my allowance for two weeks and grabbed the new Lennon/Ono album off the racks at Sam Goody and snuck it home. I got the messages and knew I had to figure out a way to play rock ‘n’ roll. Years later I can understand why John and Yoko chose to collaborate with the raucous, funky Elephant’s Memory Band – a legendary East Village ensemble which personified the mayhem of the times in their music. At the center of this musical and cultural firestorm was Gary Van Scyoc –whose bass artistry served as a bridge between the frenetic musicianship of his Plastic Ono Elephants Memory Band mates and John and Yoko’s riveting libretto. Gary grooved in the pocket and kept it simple – which was the way John loved his bass players.
Gary’s understanding of soul, blues, traditional rock, and folk – all of which John referenced on these historic sessions – fit the songs perfectly. Don’t read the history books – hear this album, and Gary, and decide for yourself. Gary Van Scyoc is still on the bandstand, and shares his knowledge as a bass instructor and educator.