The song “Imagine” is by far one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. I love to hear John Lennon sing, listen to it be covered by many an influential artist of the times, and to sing it and imagine we might have peace one day. My first major in college was to be a Vocalist, because songs of this nature get out to so many different kinds of people and may change their minds about our world. I then changed my degree to History, so that like John Lennon, not only could I sing about it but I could educate the masses of our previous mistakes and how to maybe correct them when they come around again.
While the song is beautiful, if you listen carefully you can hear radical ideas swirling in his lyrics. It is what he intended to do, as he was no stranger to being the face of controversy. If we begin to strip the song down, we will then see how Lennon wanted his message of peace and love to not mask the words he really wanted us to hear.
“Imagine” was written during the 1970s, the hippie era. In order to understand what Lennon was seeing in the world, we have to look at the times. During this time was the Vietnam war, Nixon was claiming he wasn’t a “crook”, and many minorities were still fighting for their equality. So he wrote the song with inspiration that he himself wished for the people around him. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” (Lennon) In my interpretation, that part of the song is saying, you may not have the words so I wrote them out for you.
Of course Lennon was not a perfect man. After the song had been released, many people began to call him out on some of the lyrics saying that yeah you can say that stuff and everything will be all flowers and joy but are you supposed to be an example of this. They said this because here he is a millionaire with fancy cars and he’s talking about “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can.” Well since he wasn’t a man that took criticism horribly, he agreed with them and changed the lyrics to “I wonder if WE can.” Not only that, but he criticized himself for not giving proper credit to his wife Yoko Ono, who had written a book that gave him inspiration as well to write the song. To write his wrong he added the poem to the back of his album “Imagine” stating that he “wasn’t man enough” to admit it before.
And here we are decades later, still singing that song when we need a sign of hope to push us to the next day when our world is still fighting battles that maybe are not necessary. Religion, law, race, sexuality… the list will go on for what we are fighting for, but we are all different and of course that is what makes us human. Let’s hope one day we will listen to Lennon’s lyrics and stand up next to our fellow man and have a hand to help.
Lennon, John. Imagine. John Lennon. 1971. Vinyl recording.
History.com Staff. “The 1970s.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 19 June 2017. <http://www.history.com/topics/1970s>.
Ulster, Laurie. “The Life & Legacy of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’.” Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 07 July 2016. Web. 19 June 2017. <https://www.biography.com/news/john-lennon-imagine-song-facts>.