Relive “Imagine” By John Lennon In This 1972 Video
John Lennon performing at the Jerry Lewis Telethon, 1972 - Renan Muniz / Youtube
The late John Lennon was a dreamer and visionary, which was very much evident in his 1971 hit single, “Imagine”. Its universal call for peace resonated with the listeners really well, providing a vivid imagery for people to take in. A promising world without walls, segregation, and total unity, melded in a inspiring and emotional yet laid-back melody seemed to be the perfect formula for this Lennon hit.
Credited mostly to Lennon, it wasn’t until later years that he acknowledged most of the themes came from Yoko Ono’s contributions, saying it “should be credited as a Lennon/Ono song. 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.”
While the song’s positive impact brought a new outlook for people and gave hope to the hopeless, some institutions wanted in on its massive influence. Lennon recalls how the World Church wanted to alter the meaning of the song with just one word change. “The concept of positive prayer … If you can imagine a world at peace, with no denominations of religion – not without religion but without this my God-is-bigger-than-your-God thing – then it can be true … the World Church called me once and asked, “Can we use the lyrics to ‘Imagine’ and just change it to ‘Imagine one religion’?” That showed [me] they didn’t understand it at all. It would defeat the whole purpose of the song, the whole idea.”
Here is a rare September 4, 1972 performance of John Lennon with this song, at the Jerry Lewis Telethon.