Imagine by John Lennon: Analysis of the Legendary Song

Categories: John Lennon

Imagine solicits audience members to imagine a world from harmony and solidarity. It crested at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stays one of the most notable and regarded melodies around the world. Some have scrutinized its message and Lennon's truthfulness in its message. This catchy tune was a political message glossed over in a lovely melody. Lennon understood that in order to for him to portray his message in a vague manner, he must urge the listener to envision his message.

IN this essay I will explore how the song can be interpreted differently by different audiences.

The song was a popular hit in the ’70s during the Vietnamese war as it was a protest song that John Lennon used to express his feelings by questioning what the world would be like if only we all failed to recall the differences which separate us and come together as one. The song covers the issue of how human beings are divided by our different religious beliefs, territories, possessions.

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He imagines how much better the absence of these factors can possibly make the world a better place. From someone who is hearing the song for the first time, Lennon might come off as someone promoting atheist, communist and anarchy based beliefs. In the first verse of the song, Lennon sings about a world without separation and things that cause division in society such as nationality and religion. The deeper meaning of the song is generally displayed throughout the song.

“Imagine there's no heaven

It's easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us, only sky.

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Lennon demands the listener to imagine how the world would be without the idea of heaven and hell which is an idea that surrounds religious beliefs. Lennon asks the listener to take a moment

to think about a world where nobody believes in heaven or hell. From someone hearing this for the first time, especially a religious mind, he/she may belittle the statements made by Lennon. Especially coming from the man who claimed The Beatles were more famous than Jesus.

But from a non-religious perspective, Lennon is vaguely requesting the listener to imagine how much better the world would be if we were not divided by our different religious beliefs. He believes the conflicts we have brought upon this world for the sake of 'religion' are past unacceptable. It's as though the world would have been a land of peace and unity if we didn’t have religion.

“Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too…”

In these few lines, he urges the listener to imagine how the world would possibly be if we were not divided by any territories. There would be nothing to kill for or die for. Without deep analysis, especially during the time of the Vietnamese war, a patriot would identify these lyrics as an appeal for a world based on anarchy and communism. In true sense, Lennon was entitling the listener to imagine how peaceful the world would be if, in the absence of conflict over boundaries and how many disputes have been caused by sovereignty and patriotism alone.

“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…”

Lastly, Lennon importunes the listener to imagine if we have no possessions. He desires for the listener to imagine a world where we share our belongings and riches with those who are less fortunate. A world where we didn’t have phones. How much appreciation we would have for each other and our environment? We wouldn’t have poverty, greed or hunger.

The main inspiration for the song came from Grapefruit, a poem published in 1964 by Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono. In an interview, Lennon claimed that most of the credit for the songs should be given to Ono. “‘Imagine’ should be credited to Lennon/Ono. A lot of it – the lyric and the concept – came from Yoko, but in those days, I was a bit more selfish, a bit more

macho, and I sort of omitted her contribution, but it was right out of Grapefruit.” Most people believe the song was inspired by Lennon's communist and atheist beliefs, that the world would be a better place if we lived as one sharing what we had and only believing in one another, as he only believed in himself and Ono. But, the inspiration Lennon had come from the many conflicts that take place in the world because of the many divisions we have. At the time of the Vietnamese war, many other methods of peace awareness were being performed. Be it parades, paintings and alike, none had impacted the world as much as Imagine. The simple inspiration came from the thought of letting go of things that divide us and focus on a world in which we are all equal and no one is different.

Overall, the song seems like it is filled with complex lyrics with different meanings but the song is soothing and peaceful. It has a calm tone and it is also heard through the tone of Lennon’s voice making it sound peaceful and inviting. Lennon makes the listener feel at ease by describing an ideal world where we all live without conflict and division. The song makes listeners think about what we, as humans, could possibly do to erase the thought of division in our mind and bring up a sense of unity within our world. On the other hand, Imagine is a very hard song to interpret if one has a mind full of inquiry. A listener might find that the song makes them feel that Lennon is challenging their religious beliefs or patriotism with his own beliefs, and many have made that mistake before, but have received nothing out of it. Whereas, those who listen to the song as bluntly as the lyrics are, feel they need for change in the way they live their lives.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Imagine by John Lennon: Analysis of the Legendary Song. (2024, Feb 12). Retrieved from

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