I imagine we all know the rather unkind meaning of someone being “The Yoko” in a musical context, but for those of you who don’t, it refers to John Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono, considered by many to be a major factor in The Beatles splitting up.
There have been other, less famous examples: David St Hubbins hooking up with Jeanine Pettibone in the ever-glorious, funniest film ever made, This Is Spinal Tap, for example.
In our family household, were we ever to seek to apply a similar term, we would probably plump for The Rita, after Rita Coolidge, who began dating Kris Kristofferson at almost exactly the moment that his creative powers started to wane. And of course, we blame that on his involvement with her. And then she started turning up on his records, and then being credited as co-lead performer, and the game was up, as far as we were concerned (for a while anyway).
As an example, years ago I got a text from my brother telling me there was going to be one of those performances-from-the-vaults type shows on TV that night, probably BBC4. This one featured singer-songwriters, and in the listings it had stated that Kristofferson would appear.
I watched, and sure enough KK appeared and began performing Me & Bobby McGee, but within seconds it was apparent that he had company, and there was Coolidge, not just performing backing vocals, but singing if not alternate lines then whole verses.
A follow-up text from my brother: “Well, that’s that ruined.”
It’s odd, isn’t it, how we often don’t want our favourite performers, be they Country singers or comedians, to be happy. For their greatest works were often written when they were distinctly not happy, down in the gutter, trying to catch a break, and as soon as love or fortune finds them, their work suddenly becomes more upbeat and that simply is no good to us.
All of this is grossly unfair to Coolidge, of course, who has made some wonderful records herself. She’s won two Grammys (ok, co-won, with Kristofferson) and has even done a Bond theme tune, and made a pretty good fist of it too (All Time High from Octopussy, in case you’re curious).
And I would have to include this song as one which, soppy old thing that it is and I am, I absolutely adore:
I mean, that just exudes class, in a Radio 2 Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs kind of way. Which I mean as a compliment, honest.