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Considered by many as one of the greatest songs of all time, “Imagine” was performed by John Lennon in his 1971 album Imagine. It was thought that the lyrics of the song reflected solely Lennon's hopes for a utopian world. However, the song's refrain can be found in several of Yoko Onno’s poems written in the early1960s, before she met Lennon, and in her 1965 book Grapefruit. It was coined by Yoko Ono, in reaction to her childhood in Japan during World War II.
(“Imagine: John Lennon”, 2006) The song contains a strong political message that is sugarcoated in a beautiful melody.
In the book Lennon in America, written by Geoffrey Giuliano, Lennon commented the song was "an anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic song, but because it's sugar-coated, it's accepted. " (“Imagine: John Lennon”, 2006) Lennon realized that the softer approach would bring the song to a wider audience, who hopefully would listen to his message. Lennon therefore used soft melody and easy lyrics in order to convey a much deeper meaning to more people.
Lennon used empathy in his words, in his call to the people to “imagine.
” He knows a world without "countries" or “religions” does not exist, but Lennon is asking the listener to take a moment and imagine what it would be like if the words in the song would ever come true, to imagine living in a utopian world and experience the peace that everyone has been longing for. Also, the lyrics imply that Lennon recognizes the suffering of other people less privileged than he is, so he empathizes with these people and “imagines” being the same as them, being in a “brotherhood of man.
” And through the song, he is also asking the listener to see and feel the things that he sees and feels, and to want a better world like he does, to end all suffering and division between peoples. Such call to “imagine” also involves the sympathetic identification with the singer and the collective “us” who Lennon refers to when he sings, “You may say I'm a dreamer, But I'm not the only one, I hope someday you'll join us. ” He recognizes that he is not the only dreamer, that he is not the only one dreaming of a perfect place. But he also wants the listener to “join” him and the other dreamers, and be part of the collective “us” and imagine.
Lennon knows that people long for peace, but these hopes for a better and ideal future have been long abandoned by many people whose lives have been tainted with negativity. But he calls out to these people and asks them to “imagine” and remember what it is like to hope again, no matter how impossible it is for the world to live as one. In identifying with Lennon and the other dreamers, their dreams become the listener’s own. That a listener realizes that their dreams are also his own, implies the existence of a social order the evils of which, if removed, would make the dream of everyone a reality.
The feeling of being a part of the dream and making that dream come true reaffirms the sense of shared responsibility and the recognition that such misery in the world ought not to be. The message of the song is pure and simple, but the ideas it imparts are radical in more ways than one. It implies that religion has been nothing but destructive to human societies. It divides people into groups, feeds them with supernatural explanations and otherworldly notions of the world, gives them something to believe in and something which they fear, in order to control them and pit them against other people of another “religion”, all in the name of God.
It also recognizes how countries have been divided and that many have died because of wars waged for these countries. The song also implies that want and need for the accumulation of material possessions is a cause of suffering in the world. It causes greed and hunger, a complete imbalance between those who have and those who do not. Lennon is imagining a world where people are sharing and living together, no man better then the other, a total state of equality. It is only when all people are equal, no rich or poor, where people will realize that there is no cause for division among them.
When all is united, a perfect place becomes possible because one acts not for one’s own good but for the good of everybody. Many people criticize the song as a naive dream of a man far removed from reality. “But the reason critics dislike 'Imagine' also happens to be exactly why the song, and all such art, is necessary.
It envisions, and in doing so creates, a world that we can't in real life. ” (“John Lennon and Neil Young”, n. d. ) Such grand statements of longing for world peace seems almost hypocritical to other people.
But Lennon himself once said, “We are willing to become the world's clowns if it helps spread the word for peace. " (“John Lennon and Neil Young”, n. d. ) Truly, this song is admirable simply for its capability to influence its listeners enough to pause and think about an ideal world… to imagine, even for a second.
WOKS CITED: “Imagine: John Lennon. ” (2006, October 31). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 31, 2006, from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Imagine:_John_Lennon “John Lennon and Neil Young. ” n. d. Retrieved October 31, 2006, http://www. thrasherswheat. org/jammin/lennon. htm.
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