If ‘Woman Is The N—-r Of The World’ was John Lennon’s song for women’s equality, ‘Sisters, O Sisters’ was Ono’s call for solidarity.
The song begins with Ono’s spoken message “No chauvinist pig engineer”, presumably directed at a member of the studio staff, followed by Lennon’s jokey “Right on, sister”.
‘Sisters, O Sisters’ was recorded with a reggae beat and plenty of Spector echo. Strings – credited to Invisible Strings and arranged by Ron Frangipane – were overdubbed afterwards.
Lennon and Ono had previously performed the song before 15,000 people at the Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at a concert to raise money for John Sinclair’s appeal fund. Their performance was filmed but never released. The concert took place on 10 December 1971; the other songs played were ‘Attica State’, ‘The Luck Of The Irish’, and ‘John Sinclair’.
Six days later they played the song during an appearance on The David Frost Show, and again on 17 December at the Apollo Theatre, Harlem, at a fundraiser for the families of those killed in the Attica State prison riots.
Between 14 and 28 January 1972 Lennon and Ono co-hosted The Mike Douglas Show. The editions of the daytime US television show were broadcast from 14-18 February. This was their first public performance with Elephant’s Memory, the New York group which was the backing band on Some Time In New York City. They performed 10 songs while on the show, including ‘Sisters, O Sisters’.
The song was also performed at both the afternoon and evening concerts at Madison Square Gardens on 30 August 1972. The One To One festival was a fundraiser for handicapped children, and Lennon and Ono appeared for a final live outing with Elephant’s Memory. Although extracts from both concerts were released on 1986’s Live In New York City and 1998’s John Lennon Anthology, ‘Sisters, O Sisters’ appeared on neither.
‘Sisters, O Sisters’ was the final track on Onobox, Yoko Ono’s 1992 six-CD career retrospective. The song was also remixed by Le Tigre for her 2006 album Yes, I’m A Witch.