- Imagine (song)
Name = Imagine
from Album = Imagine
B-side = It's So Hard [US] Working Class Hero [UK]
Released = flagicon|US
11 October 1971
24 October 1975
Format = 7" vinyl
Recorded = 1971
Genre = Rock,
Length = 3:01
Phil Spector, John Lennon Adam McCabeand Yoko Ono
Last single = "Power to the People"
This single = "Imagine"/"
It's So Hard"
Next single = "
Happy Xmas (War is Over)"/"Listen, the Snow is Falling"
Misc =Extra chronology 2
Type = single
Last single = "Stand by Me" (1975)
This single = "Imagine"/"
Working Class Hero" (UK, 1975)
Next single = "
(Just Like) Starting Over" (1980) "Imagine" is a song by John Lennon, which appears on his 1971 album, "Imagine". The song was produced by Phil Spector. It was released as a single in the same year, and reached number three in the U.S.Billboard charts, and number six in the United Kingdom.
In 2004, "
Rolling Stone" magazine voted "Imagine" the third greatest song of all time. [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/500songs The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time] , Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2006-12-02.] Former U.S. president Jimmy Cartersaid, "In many countries around the world — my wife and I have visited about 125 countries — you hear John Lennon's song 'Imagine' used almost equally with national anthems." [ [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6439233 Carter helps monitor Nicaragua presidential election] , Debbie Elliott. Retrieved on 2006-12-03.]
In the book "Lennon in America", written by
Geoffrey Giuliano, Lennon commented that the song was "an anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic song, but because it's sugar-coated, it's accepted." [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/johnlennon/articles/story/8898300/lennon_lives_forever Lennon Lives Forever: John Lennon] , Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2006-12-02.] Lennon also described it as "virtually the Communist Manifesto". [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/6595848/imagine Rolling Stone] ]
The lyrics were thought to be inspired by Lennon's hopes for a more peaceful world, though their origins are not known for certain. In 1963 Lennon penned the lyrics to "
I'll Get You" with an opening verse of, "Imagine I'm in love with you, it's easy cause I know." The first verse of "Imagine" would seem to be a reworking of this. But the song's refrain may have been partly inspired by Yoko Ono's poetry, in reaction to her childhood in Japanduring World War II. According to "The Guardian", primordial versions of the song's refrain can be found in her 1965 book "Grapefruit", where she penned lines such as, "imagine a raindrop" and "imagine the clouds dripping." [ [http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,,1505281,00.html Age becomes her] , The Guardian. Retrieved on 2006-12-03.]
Composition and lyrical intent
The following is a quote by John Lennon on the message of "Imagine", interviewed by David Sheff for Playboy magazine in 1980:
: Sheff: On a new album, you close with "Hard Times Are Over (For a While)". Why?
Lennon: It's not a new message: "Give Peace a Chance" — we're not being unreasonable, just saying, "Give it a chance." With "Imagine," we're saying, "Can you imagine a world without countries or religions?" It's the same message over and over. And it's positive. [ [http://members.tripod.com/~taz4158/playboy.html Playboy Interview: John Lennon and Yoko Ono] , David Sheff. Retrieved on
Yoko Ono said that the lyrical content of "Imagine" was "just what John believed — that we are all one country, one world, one people. He wanted to get that idea out." [ [http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/6595848/imagine Imagine] , Rolling Stone. Retrieved on
Nutopia The Country of Peace
Nutopia is a conceptual country created by John Lennon and Yoko Ono on
April 1st1973. This nation was supposed to live up to the standards set by the song "Imagine".
In the official declaration of Nutopia, it is stated that it:"has no land, no boundaries, no
passports, only people. Nutopia has no laws other than cosmic. All people of Nutopia are ambassadorsof the country. Citizenshipof the country can be obtained by declaration of your awareness of Nutopia." The flagof Nutopia has only one color: white. Some criticized this association with surrender, but Lennon & Ono defended that association, saying that only through surrender and compromise can peace be achieved. U2later adopted the Nutopian flag as a part of their live performance of the political songs from their third album, "War",an example of this can be seen on the video version of U2's live album " Under a Blood Red Sky", during the famous performance of their song "Sunday Bloody Sunday", which, interestingly, shares the same title as a song from Lennon's album " Some Time in New York City".
The seal of Nutopia is a picture of the marine animal of the same name, a seal. The "Nutopian International
Anthem" was included on John Lennon's album " Mind Games", and consisted of a few seconds of silence.
A plaque engraved with the words "NUTOPIAN EMBASSY" was duly installed at their home at
the Dakota. It is believed that the whole affair was a jibe at Lennon's ongoing immigrationtroubles, as he and Ono tried to move to the United States. (Ono already had a Resident Alien "green card" through her previous husband, Tony Cox. Lennon had been denied permanent residence status.)
In 2006 a Nutopia website [ [http://www.joinnutopia.com Nutopia website] ] was created by
Lions Gate Entertainment, [ [http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp Perform a search for "www.jointutopia.com" here] ] the producers of the documentary " The U.S. Versus John Lennon".
Despite its popularity, "Imagine" has received critiques over the years, some of which have perceived the lyrics in a negative light, typically in response to how ironic or even hypocritical it is that such a rich man as Lennon would write "Imagine."
Journalist and broadcaster
Robert Elmssaid "Imagine" was written by a "multi-millionaire with one temperature-controlled room in his Manhattan mansion just to store his fur coats." [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2005/10/12/robert_elms_beatles_feature.shtml The not-so Fab Four?] , Robert Elms. Retrieved on 2006-12-03.] Elvis Costelloalso commented satirically on the song in " The Other Side of Summer", wherein he asks the question, "Was it a millionaire who said 'Imagine no possessions'?"
Lennon, during an interview with Playboy magazine, was criticized on a similar note for his wealth, and defended himself by pointing out how difficult it is to leave a materialist world behind once you are caught up in it, comparing this to leaving the Beatles:
: PLAYBOY: "Why does anyone need $150,000,000? Couldn't you be perfectly content with $100,000,000? Or $1,000,000?": LENNON: "What would you suggest I do? Give everything away and walk the streets? The Buddhist says, 'Get rid of the possessions of the mind.' Walking away from all the money would not accomplish that. It's like the Beatles. I couldn't walk away from the Beatles. That's one possession that's still tagging along, right? If I walk away from one house or 400 houses, I'm not gonna escape it." [ [http://www.geocities.com/~beatleboy1/dbjypb.int2.html Playboy Interview: John Lennon and Yoko Ono] , David Sheff. Retrieved on
Some have been critical of the song's anti-religion stance, and some artists have even changed the line "and no religion too" into "and one religion too" or "and all religions too" in their cover versions (the change itself has faced criticism from people who agree with the anti-religious message or who think Lennon's vision should be respected).Fact|date=July 2008
* In 1999, BMI named "Imagine" as one of the top 100 most performed songs of the 20th century.
* Lennon's original recording of "Imagine" appears 23rd in the list of best-selling singles in the UK issued in 2002.
*In November 2004, ranked 3rd on Rolling Stone's list of the RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
1 January 2005, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporationnamed "Imagine" the greatest song in the past 100 years, as voted by listeners, on the show " 50 Tracks".
* The song ranked #30 on the
Recording Industry Association of America's list of the 365 Songs of the Centurybearing the most historical significance.
Virgin Radioconducted a UK favourite song survey in December 2005, and Imagine was voted into top spot, beating Beatles songs " Hey Jude" and "Let It Be".
* The song was voted the greatest song of all time by the Nine Network's "
20 to 1" countdown show in Australiaon September 12, 2006.
* British rock band
Oasisused the piano riff from 'Imagine' in the intro to their song " Don't Look Back In Anger".
* The song is referenced in
George Harrison's song " All Those Years Ago". One of the lines is "You were the one who imagined it all, all those years ago."
* The song was used in the last sequence of the 1984 film "The Killing Fields".
* The song was performed during a show commemorating the 30th anniversary of "".Fact|date=April 2008
* In 1990, the song was featured in the "Quantum Leap" episode "The Leap Home" and is also on the soundtrack of the series. This version, however is performed by the show's star,
* The lyrics to the song were featured in the "Clean Up Radio Everywhere" episode of "
WKRP in Cincinnati", which dealt with censorship.
* When the Liverpool airport was named after Lennon, a phrase from the song, "above us only sky", was painted on the ceiling of the terminal. When commenting on this, the panel of "
Have I Got News for You" joked that the baggage handlers' motto was taken from the same song: "Imagine no possessions".Fact|date=March 2008
* A mosaic was constructed as a part of the
Strawberry Fields memorialin Central Park, New York City, near Lennon's final home, in memory of the singer. In the centre of the mosaic is the word "Imagine".Fact|date=March 2008
* "Imagine" is the official song of the
human rights organization Amnesty International.
* A humorous telling of this song's origin appears in "Forrest Gump". The main character, Forrest, is a guest on "
The Dick Cavett Show" alongside John Lennon. Forrest recounts his experiences playing ping pong in China; he claims that the Chinese do not have much stuff ("no possessions") and, unlike him, do not go to church every Sunday (which Lennon interprets as "no religion too"), to which Dick Cavett responds, "It's hard to imagine", and Lennon says, "Well it's easy if you try".
*"Imagine" and other songs by John Lennon were used in the 1995 movie "
Mr. Holland's Opus".
January 30, 2003, the song was played to wake up the astronauts on the Space Shuttle Columbiaduring its ill-fated mission.
*In 2005, post-hardcore band
Thricereleased a b-sidefrom their album " Vheissu" called "Lullaby". The song is a response to "Imagine". Though Thrice lyricist Dustin Kensrue is an admitted fan of Lennon, he has stated that he disagrees with the message of the song because it doesn't offer any realistic solutions to world problems.
* The song was "WABC-AM" 's final song before switching to its current "NewsTalkRadio" format.
* The song was included in the
list of songs deemed inappropriate by Clear Channel following the September 11, 2001 attacks.
* In 2003,
Bill Clintonjoined Lieland 40 Jewish and 40 Arab children at the 80th birthday of Shimon Peresin Tel Avivto sing "Imagine". [ [http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=-7724028215785561219&q=tel+aviv Shimon Peres 80th birthday] ]
* In the Iranian left movement, the song usually relates to
Mansoor Hekmatand his party, the Worker-Communist Party of Iran. The WPI plays the song in all of its meetings and demonstrations, and in its TV channel. Within Iran, the song is sometimes sung in protests and symbolizes the left movement, especially the WPI.
George Gallowayquoted the line "I'm Not the Only One" for the title of his autobiography.
* On November 18, 2006,
UFCfighter and known anarchist Jeff Monsonused "Imagine" as his walk in/entrance song for his heavyweight title fight against Tim Sylviaat UFC 65: Bad Intentions in Sacramento, California.
New Years Eveat the start of 2006, 2007 and 2008, "Imagine" was played in Times Square, New York Cityin the minutes before the clock struck midnight.
* The song is a popular choice for students learning the piano. Fact|date=May 2007
Ozzy Osbourne's song "Dreamer" may reference this and other songs by Lennon, most notably the title, which seems to echo the line, "You may say I'm a dreamer".
Aviv Geffen's song "Shir Tikva" ("Hope Song"), also known as "Bo'u Nitz'ad LaHalom" ("Let's Walk Towards the Dream") is considered "The Israeli Imagine".
Bill Hicksused to say at the end of certain skits, "I'm a dreamer, man, a fookin' dreamer, but I'm not the only one," obviously interpreting a British dialect.
Ben & Jerry'soffers a brand of ice creamcalled "Imagine Whirled Peace," which contains chocolate peace symbols. [ [http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/2008/05/28/2008-05-28_ben__jerrys_new_flavor_a_salute_to_john_.html Ben & Jerry's new flavor a salute to John Lennon ] ]
*In the PC game
Super Columbine Massacre RPG!the main characters run into John Lennonin Hell. He sings Imagine to them, to which Eric Harrisreplies: "You're full of shit. If you weren't already dead, VoDkA and I would blow your fucking brains out."
*The song is played repeatedly thoughout every episode of the Freedom from Religion Foundation's,
*The song is featured in the
Miami ViceSeason 3 Premiere Episode "When Irish Eyes are Crying".
Nas& John Legendadd vocals to the song.
* Khaled and Noa released an Arabic and Hebrew duo cover of "Imagine" and released it in Khaled's album
Jeff Berlincovered the song on his 1997 album "Taking Notes".
Joan Baezhas recorded and performed the song numerous times throughout her career. She first included it on her 1972 album " Come from the Shadows", and often includes it in her concert set lists.
*Dana covered "Imagine" on her 1980 album "Everything is Beautiful".
Diana Rosscovered the song on her 1973 album "Touch Me in the Morning".
Tommy Emmanueldid an instrumental cover version of Imagine on his album "Determination."
* American R&B/soul singer,
Tracie Spencer, remade the song for her 1988 self-titled debut album. The song did moderately well in the USA, hitting #31 on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts. She was only 11 years old when the album was released.
* Tutu-Tutu covered the song in the
* In 1995, the band Oasis used a piano section from "Imagine" at the start of "
Don't Look Back in Anger", from their second album " (What's the Story) Morning Glory?"
* Late singer
Eva Cassidyhas a version of the song on her 2002 album Imagine. Although not released as a single, it appeared on Now That's What I Call Music! 53 the same year. The album was released in November, the month Cassidy died six years earlier.
2004, alternative rockband A Perfect Circlecovered the song on their third album, "eMOTIVe". The song is performed in a minor key to add a darker tone to the song, more in keeping with the rest of the album.
* Scottish harpist and singer
Katie Targett Adamsrecorded "Imagine" on her 2004 album K:T:A. [http://www.katieharpvoice.com/ Katie Targett Adams]
* Canadian rock musician
Allison Crowe, who performs the song in concert, recorded "Imagine" for release on her 2005 double-album, Live at Wood Hall.
Dolly Partonrecently released a cover of the song on her 2005 album "Those Were the Days", in a duet with David Foster. The video for Parton's cover of the song featured vintage footage of Lennon and Yoko Ono.
* Brazilian musician
Gilberto Gilcovered the song on his 2004 live album, "Eletracústico"
Venezuelan band Cachicamo con Caspa has a Latin-feel cover on their "A Pulir la Hebilla" album.
* A 2005 song by artist RX featured
George W. Bush"singing" a mixture of Lennon's "Imagine" and Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side".
Avril Lavigne, Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson& Me'Shell NdegéOcello each recorded versions of the song for the 2007 John Lennon tribute album, "."
* Vagrants on Parade, a
Port Coquitlam skaband, did a cover entitled; Imagine: John Lennonism.
Blues Travelerdid a version for the 1995 Lennon tribute album "".
Mari Nalloscovered the song on her 2006 album "The Crystal Voice of Asia.
Declan Galbraith, British singer, covered the song for his 2002 album "Declan.
Ray Charles, First release: On audio album Definitive 2001.
Jefferson Starshipcovered the song in their 2008 album Jefferson's Tree of Liberty[ [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:jpfyxz9kldae Jefferson's Tree of Liberty on allmusic.com] ,] . The song is featured in a mash-up with Redemption Songby Bob Marley.
Notable live cover interpretations
Over the years a lot of artists performed the song at their live shows, although much of these were not released on albums. Below are listed some of the more notable.
* The band Queen performed this song a few times in 1980 right after Lennon's death. On
July 15, 2005, Queen + Paul Rodgersperformed the song live in Hyde Park as a tribute to the victims of the London terrorist attacks.
1983, David Bowiecovered the song live during a concert in Hong Kong on the Anniversary of Lennon's Death as a tribute to him.
Elton Johncovered this song during his 1980 tour (including his performance at the Central Park), shortly before Lennon's death.
Randy Crawfordcovered this song in a live version, available on some of her samplers like "The ultimate collection" or "best of album"
Stevie Wonderperformed "Imagine" on August 4, 1996at the 1996 Summer Olympicsclosing ceremony. Almost ten years later on February 10, 2006 Peter Gabrielperformed the song at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics.
* Alternative rock band Live covered the song many times during their 1999 tour for their album
The Distance to Here. Their version was notably heavier at parts in typical Live. style.
Neil Youngcovered the song at the concert [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/1562007.stm All-star telethon raises $150m] ] on September 21, 2001. [ [http://www.cmt.com/artists/news/1450905/11122001/id_0.jhtml 'Tribute to Heroes' Set for CD, Video] ] The words he sang were "Imagine no possessions / I wonder if "I" can".
15 January 2005, Madonna performed a live cover-version of John Lennon's "Imagine" (which was also part of her " The Re-Invention Tour" in 2004) at the NBCBenefit Telethon "".
* American hard rock band
Guns N' Rosesperformed an instrumental cover live in concert, with guitarist Slash performing the piano arrangement on guitar.
Eva Cassidyrecorded the song before her death at age 33; the album was entitled, "Imagine".
Blake Lewis, the runner-up on the sixth season of " American Idol", performed the song during the show's special Idol Gives Backepisode on April 24, 2007. Its studio version was later released on the "American Idol" official website and in the "", the compilation of the studio versions of song performed by the finalists of "Idol".
David Archuletaperformed Eva Cassidy's cover of this song for the top 20 of American Idol (season 7)on February 26, 2008, though it was not credited on the show. He again performed the song on the season 7 finale on May 20, 2008. In both performances, he notably sings only the third verse of the song beginning with 'imagine no possessions..' and repeats the chorus several times.
Giorgiaperformed the song live on MTV at the start of the new year in Rome, Italy on January 1st, 2008.
24 August2008, James Morrisonperformed a live cover of this song for the London 2012 Party
*Bob Dylan performed this song in Times Square, New York City on the eve of John Lennon's assasination.
Lawsuit for unauthorised use
The controversial satirical documentary film "", which promotes
intelligent design creationismand depicts evolutionary science as atheistic, uses part of the song with a claim that Lennon was promoting atheism while showing film clips of Joseph Stalinand Chinese communist party troops as the lyrics "and no religion too" are superimposed against the images. The producers of the film, Premise Media, failed to seek a license for use of the music or the permission of the copyright holder, John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120839097431221369.html?mod=googlenews_wsj Yoko Ono, Filmmakers Caught in 'Expelled' Flap] Ethan Smith. Wall Street Journal, April 16, 2008.] cite news |author=Ethan Stanislawski |title= UPDATE: Ben Stein did not acquire the rights to the Killers or John Lennon |url=http://www.prefixmag.com/news/update-ben-stein-did-not-acquire-the-rights-to-the/18179/ |publisher=Prefix Magazine |date=2008-04-16 |accessdate=2008-04-17 ] who filed a lawsuit.cite web |url=http://uk.reuters.com/article/entertainmentNews/idUKN2320158220080423 |title=Yoko Ono sues Expelled filmmakers : Entertainment |author=Leslie Gevirtz |date=April 24, 2008 |format= |work= |publisher=Reuters |accessdate=2008-04-24] The producers of the film responded by saying that they had only used 25 seconds of "Imagine" and this constituted fair useunder American copyright law. [ [http://www.evolutionnews.org/2008/04/executive_producers_of_expelle.html "Executive Producers of EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed Statement on Lawsuit by Yoko Ono"] , April 23, 2008]
* [http://www.thrasherswheat.org/jammin/lennon.htm John Lennon and Neil Young: Jammin' with Neil] - covered on "Tribute to Heroes" (9/11/2001) by
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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