♫ Imagine ♫

I seem to play this one at least once every year, but it never becomes dated, never loses its relevance to what is happening in our world.  In the past, I usually only provided the song, along with my own commentary, but no trivia.  This time, I thought I’d add a bit of the history of the song.

John Lennon wrote and recorded this song at his Tittenhurst Park estate in the English countryside where he and Yoko took up residence in the summer of 1969. When they moved to Tittenhurst, The Beatles hadn’t officially broken up, but they were on the outs and would never record together again (the last Beatles photo shoot took place there in August, 1969).

In early 1971, Lennon worked up songs for a new album – Imagine was one of them. In May, he summoned several of his musical cohorts to Tittenhurst to record it, including Phil Spector, George Harrison, bass player Klaus Voormann, piano man Nicky Hopkins, and drummers Alan White and Jim Keltner. They recorded on-campus in the studio Lennon had recently built, which he called Ascot Sound Studios. It was a genial atmosphere; footage from the sessions shows Lennon and his cohorts enjoying each others’ company, but also getting down to business when it came time to work – Phil Spector kept the sessions on track, and Lennon was exacting in his musical detail. Imagine was one of the first songs they recorded. With a very simple arrangement designed to spotlight the lyric, it required just Lennon’s vocals and piano, Voormann’s bass, and White’s drums. Strings were overdubbed later.

Some listeners had a problem with the “no possessions” line, finding Lennon hypocritical because he was so well-off. Yoko Ono addressed this in a 1998 interview with Uncut, where she said of her husband’s intentions: “He sincerely wished that there would be a time when all of us could feel happy without getting too obsessive about material goods.”

A sidewalk mosaic spells out the word Imagine in a section of Central Park dedicated to Lennon. The area is called Strawberry Fields, and is located across from Lennon’s apartment where he was shot.

Released as a single in America, Imagine climbed to #3 in November 1971. In the UK, John and Yoko decided not to release it as a single to put focus on their Christmas peace anthem Happy Xmas (War Is Over). In 1975, Imagine was issues as a UK single for the first time, reaching #6. Soon after Lennon’s death in 1980, it was re-released in the UK and hit #1 on January 10, 1981, where it stayed for four weeks.

John Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today (ah ah ah)

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that 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

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

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

Songwriters: John Winston Lennon
Imagine lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Downtown Music Publishing, BMG Rights Management

49 thoughts on “♫ Imagine ♫

  1. Pingback: ♫ All You Need Is Love ♫ (Redux) | Filosofa's Word

  2. When this song first came out, I felt an empathy with the message. I feel much less so now. It has a utopian ideal that in my youth (early twenties) I saw as being one in which everyone had the same wants and needs and shared the same values – a uniformity of thought, values and the ways in which they were expressed – a place where diversity didn’t exist. Perhaps I was mistaken in my perception of utopia, but I still imagine such a version of the world whenever I hear this song, and I’m still persuaded that is what Lennon imagined.

    I now find such a world alarming. What I’d much prefer to see is not just the acceptance of diversity, but the embracing of it. In this respect I prefer the sentiments of a verse from the song Melting Pot, which goes:
    Rabbis and the Friars
    Vishnus and the Gurus
    You got the Beatles or the Sun God, it’s true
    Well, it really doesn’t matter what religion you choose

    It at least pays a token acknowledgement to one form of diversity.

    I recently read an online article (sorry I can’t locate it now) which envisioned a similar utopian world to Lennon’s but went into greater detail. Not only would the be no religion, there’d be no politics, we’d share the same culture worldwide, and there’d be no racism because there’d be no races – we’d all be coffee coloured. It even went further in describing a world where suffering was eliminated, but among the causes of suffering that the author wanted to see eliminated such as poverty and disease (noble if it means the elimination of the causes and not the elimination of those who are affected by those causes – the article wasn’t clear) were “conditions” such as down syndrome, same sex attraction, transgenderism and autism. These are “conditions” where there is indeed suffering, but it is caused by societal attitudes, not the “conditions” themselves. In other words the author saw the use of eugenics as a means to solve social issue. That, in my mind, is more a dystopian world than a utopian one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do get what you’re saying, and after giving it some thought, I don’t think that Lennon’s words and a love of diversity are necessarily mutually exclusive. I value diversity, think that cultural diversity makes our society, our lives, much richer. However, I do think that the world could happily live without the hate and violence that is so prevalent today. Those are ideas that I don’t welcome and never would.

      As for the religion aspect … I understand that some people need to believe that there is something better to come, and/or that there is something in charge, that there is some order in the chaos. And that’s fine … people should be able to believe as they wish. But the problem I have with religion is it’s domineering side, the attempts to ‘convert’ others … I believe in “Live and let live”.

      I don’t think Lennon was trying to mold everyone into one view, but rather trying to promote acceptance, love everyone, even those who differ in some way, be it physical or ideological. Does that make any sense?


  3. Love this….”and no religion too” what a wonderful difference that would make especially these trump Christian white nationalists.

    Liked by 1 person

      • For once, I find myself disagreeing with you. The core of the world’s problems is indeed arrogance and greed. Religion is just a very convenient hook on which to hang them. But if you look at examples such as Aotearoa New Zealand where the religious are a distinct minority we still see arrogance and greed, but built along ethnic lines or socioeconomic lines and occasionally geographic or political lines instead. It may appear to be less toxic than that apparent with religion, but to those affected it is just as harmful.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Point well taken, my friend. Arrogance and greed are a part of human nature even without religion entering into the picture. I still think that religion plays upon those human frailties and exacerbates them, but you’re right … it isn’t the root cause. Thanks for making me think!


  4. Pingback: IMAGINE. |jilldennison.com | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

    • I’m glad you liked it, Michael! I’ve played it so many times that I feared people would be getting tired of it, but it seems not. Some songs are just timeless, I think. Have a great weekend, my friend! xx


  5. Jill, I wrote before this may be one of the finest songs ever written. It is not unlike “All you need is love” which was written by Lennon and recorded in front of about a billion people on TV. Lennon kept the lyrics and song simple for understanding by many, Imagine is if the same ilk. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • I, and may others, agree with you on that. So much simple truth in this song … if only people would listen. Last time I played it, one of my friends took umbrage and said he didn’t see why he should have to give up his religion and belongings. I think he listened only with his ears, and not with his heart.


  6. Best song in the wotld, in all of history, and for the foreseeable future. Someday humans will achieve tis vision — if we zllow ourselves enough time to get there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is certainly one of my faves! I don’t share your belief, though, that someday humans will achieve this vision. I think we’ve proven we are incapable of setting aside our greed, bigotry and arrogance to make a better world. Sigh.


      • Time, Jill, time. There is more than enough time to get there. It could take a century. It could take 100 centuries, or more. It may not even be humans who get us there. But as long as life exists, we (we being living beings) will get there. The line from the start is a direct line, though to our injured minds it looks crooked as hell. But look on an evolutionart scale, and hou will see the line is straight.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Well, rg, I’d have to disagree with you. First off, you and I and the rest of our friends will die long before a century passes. But more to the point, the human species is running out of time as we destroy our home, our planet, more with each passing day. As re the evolutionary scale … it is far beyond my mind to predict what forms of life, if any, will survive for a century or millennia.


    • We probably don’t have the time left it would take…climate change will overtake all of this in the next 25 years or less. Not pessimistic, just a realist…but I could be wrong and we can hope..

      Liked by 1 person

  7. People will always find something to judge about. Would those same people give up whatever means they had to live as one with nothing? SadLy, in these dark times, people would likely take offense to “Imagine there’s no heaven.” That would be beautiful though. Thanks Jill. I appreciate your choice today. My son bought me the Imagine biography book which is very detailed and honest with tons of images. There is an entire chapter written about the recording of this album. He was a gentle persevering soul and I miss him. ❤️❤️Thanks for the birthday gift. 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • ♫ 🎈🎁🍰🎂🍰🎁🎈♫ Happy, Happy Birthday!!!

      Yes, people are arrogant, believing that their own skin colour, religion, and beliefset is the “one and only” right one. Not all people, of course, but enough to cause a global angst in times like the present. Lennon wanted, as do you and I and many others, for humans to learn peace and love and not care about differences, but after all these thousands of years since man evolved from apes, we haven’t yet learned that, so I doubt we will.

      Liked by 1 person

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