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Imagine: The Story of the Song

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Imagine was a song written by John Lennon in 1971 as part of the album Imagine. John Lennon was a member of the famous English rock band The Beatles. This band broke up in April 1970 and John Lennon went on to become a solo artist. One of his most successful solo songs was Imagine.

Imagine is a deep song that touches on the difficult political topic of world peace and acting as one united world. It is said that Lennon’s inspiration for this song came from his wife’s book, Grapefruit. His wife was Yoko Ono. When asked about the meaning of the lyrics in an interview in 1980, Lennon referred to the idea that we could all act together as one country, one world, one people. It is often referred to as the song of the working class and its release did cause uproar for being so political.

Taking inspiration from his wife, Lennon wrote this song using his bedroom piano at his home in Ascot, UK in 1971. It was only recorded three times and the second was chosen to be released to the US later that year. It didn’t come to the UK until 1975. 

This song is known as an anthem, given its global success. It reached number one in the UK chart following Lennon’s assassination in 1980 and was even voted as Britain’s favourite song lyric in 1999.

When this song was first released, all credit went to John Lennon but his wife, Yoko Ono, contributed significantly to the lyrics and the concept of the song. Lennon said himself “I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted her contribution”. As well as his selfishness, it was suggested that success of the single may be different if a woman’s name was attached. It wasn’t until 2017 that Ono’s name was officially added to the song as a songwriter. 

Imagine was such a successful song that even the piano upon which the song was written, was sold for over $2 million in 2000 to George Michael. 

John Lennon was sadly killed on 8th December in 1980 as the result of a shooting in New York. The murderer, Mark Chapman, stated that he was angered by Lennon’s religious and political statements in his songs.