Imagine has become the (undeclared) soundtrack of the International Day of Peace.
A soft piano melody and John Lennon’s stupendous voice – written in collaboration with Yoko Ono – were the necessary ingredients for Imagine to continue to resonate in our memory 50 years later.
It was a morning in early 1971 when John Lennon and his wife, the Japanese artist Yoko Ono, began to compose ‘Imagine‘. The room of Tittenhurst Park, in the English town of Ascot, was the scene where the notes of the ballad began to emerge from John Lennon’s Steinway piano.
Once the work of art was conceived, the recording was carried out between May and July in Ascot Sound Studios, for which they counted on the producer Phil Spector.
The musicians Klaus Voormann -on bass-, Alan White -on drums- and Flux Fiddlers -on strings- were the other three members of the final take.
In October of that same year, the song began to be distributed by the record label Apple Records in the United States.
Grammy Hall of Fame
Imagine, which was awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame award -among other recognitions-, was conceived thanks to the love between Yoko Ono and John Lennon.
The two met at the Indica Gallery (London), where Yoko Ono was holding an exhibition of conceptual art. Peace and the world of ideas were the vital pillars of the couple –who would marry in 1969-.
In fact, Yoko Ono had published in 1964 the book Grapefruit, in which we can find quotes like «imagine the clouds dripping, dig a hole in your garden to keep them» or «imagine a thousand suns in the sky at the same time«.
That literary piece was the source of inspiration for the lyrics of Imagine, which is why the poem Cloud Piece appeared on the back cover of the album.See also:«Dancing In The Dark» the best Bruce Springsteen song?
Although it should be noted that Ono’s co-authorship was not recognized by the National Music Publishers’ Association until June 2017, the year in which the artist published a children’s book inspired by the song.
Fun fact: the cover was taken with a polaroid by famed visual artist Andy Warhol.
Despite the fact that the second stanza says «Imagine there are no countries, it’s not hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion, too«, John Lennon argued that the song was not an affront to faith.
Such a statement managed to convince publications such as Rolling Stone, whose pages described it as «22 lines of gentle, simple faith in the power of a world, purposefully bound together, to repair and change itself».
In contrast, authors such as Richard Dawkins called it an «atheist hymn«.
Be that as it may, ‘Imagine’ managed to take off from John Lennon’s vocal cords to put itself on the lips of society as a whole.
In 1972, the couple released the 81-minute film of the same name, in which scenes of the two of them at home and in the recording studio, passing through New York, can be seen.
The film served as material for the subsequent music video, made by Zbigniew Rybczyński and released in 1987.
We are facing Lennon’s most successful single in his solo career.
Since then, no generation has let the song fall into oblivion; to the figures we refer: according to data collected up to 2018, over the course of Imagine’s history approximately five million physical copies have been sold and more than four million digital copies have been distributed.
In addition, the song reaches almost 357 million plays on Spotify and 218 million on YouTube.See also:John Lennon Secrets Revealed