Saturday, June 23, 2012

John and Yoko Farming Beef

And another thing. Only since the advent of the Internet have we felt compelled to waste countless hours in the trivial pursuit of seeking out trivia ~ seeking the meaning of obscure song lyrics and the like. Take for instance I Do the Rock by Tim Curry. One verse of that song always puzzled me:
John and Yoko farming beef
Raising protein quota
Sometimes they make love and art
Inside their dakota
Rodney's feeling sexy
Mick is really frightfully bold
Me, I do the only thing that'stops me growing old
I do the Rock
I do the Rock Rock
I do the Rock Rock Rock 
Now, the other references weren't that obscure: Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger... pretty obvious. Edith Sitwell (from a previous verse) I'd heard of, and it wasn't hard, from there, to find "Satchie" (Sacheverell Sitwell, her brother). Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, I already knew.  "Baby" (Babe) Ruth, Knute Rockne, and O.J. were easy enough, as people who "wack" balls with great velocity ~ albeit O.J. is more famous, now, for wacking people. Likewise, Solzhenitzin, Nietsche, Einstein, various celebs, and world leaders posed no problem. I didn't bother to look up every ref, I got the drift of it. But somehow, John and Yoko just weren't associated with the farming of beef in my mind. The Dakota, sure; but "farming beef"? And "raising protein quota"? Was it a strange reference to child-getting, I wondered? Checking several sites that analyze obscure or unintelligible lyrics, I found that most of them included the song, but none had answers, or even guesses, about its meaning. Searches for John and Yoko and "beef" or "protein quota" all led to sites that mentioned the song, but had no insight into the lyrics. I learned that the Lennons bought a farm in Virginia and thought that I'd solved the mystery. But looking further into it, it didn't seem to be that kind of farm. It was an historic estate, not a cattle farm. Continuing to search, I found that John Lennon did a song called 'Beef Jerky.' Aha! I thought. But no, it was an instrumental. The one string of lyrics (Beef jerky, beef jerky, beef jerky) provided no enlightenment, and I did find a site which mentioned that Tim Curry dropped that verse in one live performance. Also, oddly enough, I found a father-and-son team, John and Sean Lennon (of no relation, apparently, to the famous ones) who farmed cannabis. And I found a Vanity Fair parody, in which a 70-year-old John Lennon (had he lived) went bounding about a dairy farm with pails of milk.

Not one to give up (and this song nagging, as it did, every time I thought of it), I kept plugging away on Google. And finally, voila! Something clicked. I began to find references to Yoko Ono's investments in cattle, references to a "$250,000" ($250K) cow, and various opinons as to Yoko Ono's genius for investing (or lack thereof); for she was (or wasn't) brilliant as John Lennon's financial manager, and made investments in cattle and organic farming. Thus, the most likely solution to the odd lyrics? Either Michael Kamen or Tim Curry picked up a stray tidbit from the entertainment news of the day.

So, here are the clues that led to my conclusion: 

From Beatles Photo Blog came a forum conversation betwixt "Alex of Bronx," "Tammy," and "Jo." Alex mentioned the Virginia farm, but Tammy and Jo provided my first clue about a $250,000 cow (somehow tied to Yoko Ono). Subsequent searches on Yoko, investments, and $250K cows turned up this: 
While Ono managed John’s money, John becomes a house husband, devoting his time to baking bread and raising his son Sean. John and Ono became worth hundreds of million of dollars, partly because of shrewd investments made Ono, who made a fortune in New York real estate and with dairy cows.
                                                                                                          ~ Facts and Details (Japan)

Ono became Lennon's business manager, and invested his money in real estate and organic farming. 
                                                                                                         ~ John Lennon, from Simple Wiki

His personal fortune was estimated at $150 million by the fall of 1980, before his death; most of his investments were in real estate and organic farming. (Tarot reader John Green asserted in Dakota Days that Lennon's actual fortune was far less, and the rest was hype on Yoko Ono's part.)
                                                                                from What Was Lennon's Net Worth 

And finally, this from a Yoko fan (perhaps her only):

Yoko, by contrast, was and is financially brilliant.  In All We Are Saying, she compares investments and financial transactions with chess.  The woman made millions for the two of them off of investments in cows.  Cows!  Dammit, I want her handling my money, too!
                                                                               from article on

So, regardless of the verity of any information found, the "fact" of the $250K cow obviously got about among Yoko fans, critics, or the general public. And for me, I've solved the mystery of the "John and Yoko farming beef" lyric, at least to my own satisfaction. And yes... we spend w-a-aaa-ay-y-y too much of our life seeking out the significance of obscure song lyrics...