The Flaming Lips collaborate so widely and so frequently that it’s easy to shrug and move along without investigating when you see their name attached to some new partnership. Well, don’t skip this one. Oklahoma’s foremost psychedelic provocateurs sat in with Yoko Ono And Plastic Ono Band last night on Letterman to perform a version of the anti-war anthem “Cheshire Cat Cry” from Ono’s new Take Me To The Land Of Hell. (“Oh my goodness!” says Dave. “What a trip that would be!”) It’s definitely a trip.
The studio version, which featured Lenny Kravitz, is a slinky hall-of-mirrors funk-rocker in which an echo-laden Ono reads lines from the U.S. Constitution between pleas to “Stop the violence/ Stop all wars.” That’s worth your time, but the live take is even more worthy of attention. While Ono trades the Constitutional recitation for wordless searing wails (is that cheshire cat dying?), Wayne Coyne and company join forces with her band to whip up a chaotic fury that rivals the Lips’ own “Lightning Strikes The Postman.” The one lyric that comes through loud and clear? “Stop the violence! Stop all wars.” The peacenik message is a reminder of how long Ono has been in the public eye — she’s staying spry at age 80 — and the medium is the kind of weirdness that usually doesn’t make it on network TV. It’s a good weirdness. Watch it below.
“It’s fun when you leave the theater humming the music from the show, isn’t it?”