Today is former Beatle John Lennon’s birthday, but in two days will also be the anniversary of the 1971 release of the song “Imagine,” one of the most influential songs of the 20th century. Although he started writing the song while still a member of the Beatles, the song’s influence actually stems from Lennon’s wife, conceptual artist Yoko Ono.
Just shy over a year after the Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, broke up, the famous songwriter finished recording “Imagine” in a single session in his home studio at his country estate with Ono, Tittenhurst Park, with producer Phil Spector. This song was different from his other releases during this time period because it actually didn’t contain such a heavy political message. It’s dreamy sound illustrates and epitomizes the idea of a utopian vision as a result of the desire of Lennon and many others for the Vietnam War to come to an end.
Lennon’s song is a call to the optimistic ideals of encapsulating humanness, the kind that was defined by just the previous decade. Lennon asserted that the concept and lyrics of the song also came straight out of his wife’s poetry book Grapefruit, resulting in her name being accredited to the song in 2017.
Listen to “Imagine” by John Lennon:
“Imagine” has become the ultimate representation of sweet struggle and finding beauty and joy in dreaming of another idealistic reality. The song has timelessly still remained popular, even being used today in celebrity propaganda as the COVID-19 hit hard all over the world. In was in the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics and the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. It has been played right before the Times Square Ball dropped on New Year’s Eve in New York City since 2006, and the word “Imagine” itself appears on Central Park’s Strawberry Fields memorial that honors Lennon. “Above us, only sky,” lyrics from the song, is also Liverpool’s John Lennon International Airport’s motto.
The solo artist said in 1980 that, “The album Imagine was after Plastic Ono. I call it ‘Plastic Ono with chocolate coating,” referring to the JohnLennon/Plastic Ono band with the Flux Fiddlers, the rock band and orchestra that he and his wife formed, with Alan White as their drummer. The Imagine album contained some of the greatest songs from Lennon’s solo career and was recognized by Rolling Stone as Lennon’s “greatest musical gift to the world.”