120. John Lennon – ‘Imagine’ (1971)

“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one”

Taken from the album Imagine

Also released on Shaved Fish, The John Lennon Collection, Live In New York City, Imagine: John Lennon, Lennon, Lennon Legend: The Very Best Of John Lennon, John Lennon Anthology, Wonsaponatime, Instant Karma: All-Time Greatest Hits, Acoustic, Peace, Love And Truth, Working Class Hero: The Definitive Lennon and The US vs John Lennon: Original Soundtrack

UK #1, US #3

When I get into political discussions I often get accused of being naive or overly simple, and I usually tell people I have “John & Yoko” beliefs: peace, love, and that’s all there is to it. ‘Imagine’ is the theme song for this sort of thinking, and while the idea has been explored in many, many songs over the years, by John, Yoko and countless followers, this is the definitive and simplest expression of the manifesto.

‘Imagine’ isn’t just a call for freedom from religion and war, it’s become something of a religion itself. The ideals expressed here are a bit of a pipe dream, something that will never happen, but as my favourite line says, “you may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”. The simple, instantly recognisable piano and famous melody never really loses impact, even if the sentiment has been constantly repeated.

This song has been covered by everybody. Diana Ross, Eva Cassidy, A Perfect Circle, Etta James, Avril Lavigne, everybody. My three favourite cover versions are by the predictable trio of Yoko Ono, Dolly Parton and Madonna. Even of those three, only Dolly comes close to matching the original, and none of them could ever stand up to this first recording. Every cover is in good faith and is paying tribute to a great song, but they’re always just that: a tribute.

Music video:

One Response to “120. John Lennon – ‘Imagine’ (1971)”

  1. Rabbitbunny Says:

    I mean, what can I say? John Lennon’s Rebel Rock anthem Imagine is Our alternative International Anthem because the tune accomplishes its Main Goal-the tune imagines a world, a planet and an idea-where there is no war, no fighting, no money and no religion and defiantly no God.. Of course that may never happen because of the current state our Earth is in However, we can always to paraphrase another Beatle idea
    -‘Take a sad song and make it better.’ That is why Imagine is a beautiful Prayer for humanity. I guess that’s why Madonna was so moved and inspired to sing and play Imagine on the Reinvention Tour. When I heard Madge sing Imagine at Verizon center in 2004, I was touched, I was moved and most importantly of all I cried and sobbed profusely. It was quite simply the ultimate tribute a living star gave to some she will always remember. Finally what both the Beatles and Madonna have in common is that the music of both acts revolves around Love. That is something we could sure use a lot more of in these changing, uncertain and hard times ahead that we live in. Imagine is a song that will live for ever because only John Lennon
    and Madonna Ciccone know this Truth-that Love and Peace are are only Hope for our Earth’s survival. I am extremely glad that Madonna paid tribute to a man-John Lennon-that she’ll always and forever Love with all her Heart. As far as protest anthems go, Imagine is still and will always be the best Beatles song of all time. Peace-No Surrender=Brilliance!

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