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John and Yoko turn their honeymoon into a protest for peace.

Sounds on Sunday: 50 of 50/13

WHAT WERE WE listening to 50 years ago? Here’s a short series on the hits of 1969 – two years after the Summer of Love, the year that humans landed on our moon, the last year of the 1960s.

The 60s was the decade of love and protest – but to look at the 1969 chart-toppers, you wouldn’t have guessed. Until, that is, the Beatles released the number that unites love and protest perfectly: The Ballad of John and Yoko. It topped the charts on 10th June and stayed there for three weeks.

The song tells the story of John Lennon and Yoko Ono getting married and the immigration hurdles they had to jump over to do so. Perhaps there is also a strand of recognition, on Lennon’s part, that he will be criticised, maybe “crucified”, for marrying a woman of a different ethnicity from his own. The song finishes with a reference to John and Yoko’s bed protest – when they invited the press to see them spending their honeymoon in bed in a call for an end to war and for peace to spread across the world.

Now, 50 years later, people still struggle to unite families divided by man-made borders. Wars are ongoing as the superpowers sell arms to the wannabes. However, the Corbyn-led Labour Party has today backed the principle of free movement of people. Perhaps that’s a small step in the right direction. One day, either John and Yoko’s hopes, or their fears, will be recognised. It is up to us to determine which it will be.

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Sounds on Sunday

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