Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What's in A Name?

This is Lennon. That's her name. She's a musician.

Unfortunately for her, Yoko Ono has decided to sue to prevent her from using her own name to ply her craft.

Yesterday I received notice that Yoko Ono had filed a law suit against me, asking for a cancellation of the trademark that I own for the name "Lennon." This could very well mean the career that I have worked so hard at, the one you all have believed in, may come to an end. I wanted to address the situation to all my fans because without you I am nothing and it's not fair to everyone who has believed in my music not to be properly informed of this pure bullshit.

When I first started playing music at 14, I was known for the most part as "The Lennon Murphy Band". Not a name I was very fond of, no one could ever agree on anything so it made sense. A few months later some of the shows started being marketed using my full name as well as some that just using "Lennon." There was never really any consistancy but there was well enough to justify stating that "Lennon" had been used in fact since 1997. When I signed with Arista Records in 2000 at the age of 18, a marketing decision was made to continue being known just as Lennon. In all honesty, I didn't care. I was just happy to sign a record deal, make an album, and pay my bills.

Now personally, I love John Lennon for his music, his legacy and his fight to become and to overcome himself. He set a standard that I will always aspire to as a songwriter. If I approach that standard then I have succeeded at my craft. I have on a few occasions written songs that were Lennon-esque, a few moments in homage and humour. I was never among those that blamed Yoko for the collapse of The Beatles. With the pressure that those guys endured during their career together, with the strength of the egos involved and the ambitions they sought to meet outside of the group, a breakup was inevitable. John Lennon was a rebellious, snotty bugger that liked to take the piss out of authority. If there is any harm being done to his name and to his legacy, it is in the action taken by Yoko, his widow, to quell the art of another rebellious young musician.

Yoko is, in her own right, a significant artist. I find it difficult to imagine the shift in her heart that must have taken place, for the woman whose installation at the top of a ladder which simply said "Yes" has become the greedy old woman whose lawyers bark "No". John Lennon died in 1980. The world lost a beloved artist and a brilliant voice. His legacy is intact, his life is celebrated and his art is cherished. His last album was released nearly thirty years ago. There is unlikely to ever be any confusion between he and Lennon Murphy. John's face, the round glasses and his mischievous grin are iconic. He is a part of the popular consciousness in a way normally reserved for world leaders and religious figures. An argument could be made that while he isn't bigger than Jesus, he's in the same league. Lennon Murphy is a striking young woman, named for her mother's hero, a man that had fallen a few short years before her birth.

This sad episode is just so wrong. Yoko, you'll never read these words, but come back to the world. This is the antithesis of peace, this is making war on a person with the weapon of money. Not because of a threat, real or perceived, but because you can, because you have power. And power it seems, does indeed corrupt. As John said, "living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see", please don't corrupt the spirit of the late John Lennon by seeking to snuff out another artist's voice. She was named to honour John. Climb that ladder, look up and find "yes".

Hat tip to boingboing


E in MD said...

I'm no expert when it comes to copyright law, but since when can you trademark or copyright a proper name? If that were the case those Seinfeld writers could copyright Kramer and I'd be shit out of luck since that's my last name.

That's ridiculous.

Excuse me while I go trademark the name 'Smith'

Jay said...

She's hot, I'll give her that. Any chance you can link to some music so we can judge for ourselves?

Slim emo chick.... mmmmmm.

Kelseigh said...

Out of curiosity, but is Yoko actively sueing the young lady, or has she been presented with a letter from her lawyers? If the latter, it's possible that Yoko doesn't even know what's happening, a lot of letters threatening suits get sent on a regular basis as a matter of course, and a lot of those don't end up going anywhere.

It's possible Yoko herself is involved, but it may also come as a surprise to her, and she'll call off the dogs in the end.

rabbit said...

Ryan Adams got some splaining to do.

pretty shaved ape said...

from her post, yoko and/or her lawyers have filed suit. her record company, arista, made yoko aware of lennon when they signed her to attempt to head off this sort of conflict. go read her note for full details. julian lennon is also aware of this and has sided with the young artist, no word from sean. there are links from her letter to her main site. her tunes aren't exactly my cup of tea, your mileage may vary.

the way i see it, if i decided to drop lindsay (my first name, often referred to as a girl's name) and put out my work as stewart, i'd be pretty pissed off to get a similar threatening letter from rod stewart.

Red Tory said...

Sounds like the young lady's record company was being a little too clever by half.

Cräbgräšš said...

Maybe she could call herself Jesus Christ instead.

Or is that taken?

pretty shaved ape said...

actually rt, her company contacted yoko in 2000 when she was signed. not a peep until it looked like she might make a buck for herself.