Music: Imagine

I hope someday you'll join us and the world will live as one.

Imagine is the fifth studio album by John Lennon, released in 1971. It is best known for the iconic title track "Imagine", which has become Lennon's Signature Song. Other hits and fan favourites include "Jealous Guy", "Crippled Inside" and "Gimme Some Truth". It's widely seen as one of Lennon's best albums and was listed at nr. #80 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time.


Tracklist:

Side One

  1. "Imagine" (3:01)
  2. "Crippled Inside" (3:47)
  3. "Jealous Guy" (4:14)
  4. "It's So Hard" (2:25)
  5. "I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die" (6:05)

Side Two

  1. "Gimme Some Truth" (3:16)
  2. "Oh My Love" (2:50)
  3. "How Do You Sleep?" (5:36)
  4. "How?" (3:43)
  5. "Oh Yoko!" (4:20)


Gimme Some Tropes:

  • Answer Song: "How Do You Sleep?" (see "The Reason You Suck" Speech below).
  • Apologises a Lot: "Jealous Guy"
    I'm just a jealous guy.
  • The Atoner: "Jealous Guy", about a man who apologizes to his partner for being disrespectful to her, but acknowledges he is just a jealous guy.
  • Call Back: "How Do You Sleep?" references Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Paul Is Dead and "Yesterday".
  • The Cameo: George Harrison plays guitar on some tracks on this album.
  • Cover Version: "Imagine" and "Jealous Guy" have been covered countless times.
  • Cult Soundtrack: Not exactly, but a companion movie, "Imagine" was released by Lennon a year later. This film is more a sort of documentary, though, than an actual film.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: "Gimme Some Truth", "Oh My Love", "How?" are all songs in which Lennon explores his self-identication and looks for some truth in his life.
  • Double Entendre: Lennon uses the phrase "going down" in "It's So Hard" twice, first in the context of depression, second in the context of having sex.
    • In "How Do You Sleep?" Lennon sings about Paul McCartney: "The only thing you done was yesterday", being both an attack on the fact that McCartney was unable to duplicate The Beatles' artistic and financial success on his own, and literally saying that the Beatles song "Yesterday", from Help! was the only thing memorable about Paul.
  • Draft Dodging: "I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die".
    Well, I don't wanna be a soldier, mama, I don't wanna die
  • Dream Sequence: The utopian vision in "Imagine" is basically this. Could be Dreaming of Things to Come too, but that might be stretching it a bit.
  • Enemy Within: "Crippled Inside".
    One thing you can't hide
    Is when you're crippled inside
  • Excited Show Title!: "Oh Yoko!"
  • Face on the Cover: John's face in close-up.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Imagine," by Lennon's own admission, "is virtually The Communist Manifesto" set to music, "even though I'm not particularly a Communist and I do not belong to any movement". (It could arguably be considered more similar to the writings of anarcho-communists like Pyotr Kropotkin and Emma Goldman, who took issue with some of Marx's ideas). Of the song, Lennon told "NME", "There is no real Communist state in the world; you must realize that. The Socialism I speak about ... [is] not the way some daft Russian might do it, or the Chinese might do it. That might suit them. Us, we should have a nice ... British Socialism."
    • This is a song where Lennon advocates abolishing nationalism, religion and capitalism and it still became a universal musical hit. As Lennon himself said:
    Anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic, but because it is sugar-coated it is accepted ... Now I understand what you have to do. Put your political message across with a little honey." Not that the controversy ever died. To this day some people will take offence or debate the lines.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: "Jealous Guy" in which the protagonist apologizes for offending his partner, because he just was jealous.
  • Lighter and Softer: While Imagine does have "Gimme Some Truth," "I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die" and "How Do You Sleep?", that Lennon could go in a year from singing "The dream is over the dream is over" in "God" to singing "You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one" in "Imagine" suggests that he got something out of his system.
  • Meadow Run: At the end of the "Oh Yoko!" music video. Though, they did it on a shore of the beach and referencing the famous scene from Wuthering Heights for they shout each other's names in the same fashion as the film.
  • One Woman Song: "Oh Yoko!" about Yoko Ono.
  • One-Word Title: "Imagine" and "How?"
  • Pacifism: "Imagine", "I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die".
    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
  • Questioning Title: "How Do You Sleep?"
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "How Do You Sleep?", directed toward Paul McCartney at the depth of their mutual hatred. A response to Paul's "Too Many People" from Ram, released earlier the same year. (The two buried the hatchet a few years later.)
  • Say My Name: "Oh Yoko" about Yoko Ono.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Gimme Some Truth" references the nursery rhyme "Old Mother Hubbard" during the line: "No short-haired, yellow-bellied, son of Tricky Dicky/ Is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me".
    • Gotlib once parodied the album cover with his character Hamster Jovial. [1]
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: "It's So Hard", where Lennon acknowledges both the good and difficult things about life.
  • Take That:
    • "How Do You Sleep?" is directed at Paul McCartney.
    • "Gimme Some Truth" expresses frustration about "short-haired yellow-bellied sons of Tricky Dicky", referencing Richard Nixon.
  • A photo of John in the album's liner notes parodies the album cover of McCartney's RAM, replacing the ram with a pig.
  • Special Guest: George Harrison plays electric and slide guitar on "I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier", "Gimme Some Truth", "Oh My Love" and "How Do You Sleep At Night". During "Crippled Inside" he plays dobro. Klaus Voormann, who designed the album cover of Revolver plass bass and upright bass. Phil Spector provides backing vocals during "Oh Yoko!"
  • Talking in Your Sleep: "Oh Yoko"
    In the middle of a dream I call your name
  • Time Marches On: "How Do You Sleep?", because it was a reflection of John's feelings against Paul at that particular moment in time. Later they became friends again.
  • Title Track: "Imagine"
    Imagine all the people...
  • War Is Hell: "I Don't Wanna Be A Soldier Mama I Don't Wanna Die" where Lennon shows that war is so horrible that a young recruit doesn't want to be drafted and killed in a faraway land.
    Mama, I don't wanna die!