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Music / Imagine

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"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 through Apple Records. 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".


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 Want to Be a Soldier" (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?" was written as a retort to Paul McCartney's "Too Many People", and responds to McCartney's portrayal of him and Yoko Ono as egotists by mocking McCartney as a shell of his former self subsiding on his good looks to obscure what Lennon deems a lack of talent.
  • 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.
  • Bowdlerization: There are versions of "Imagine" that replace the line "and no religion too" with "and one religion too", to better appeal to Christian listeners. Which rather fails to address the fact the song implicitly asks the listener to consider the absence of both Heaven and Hell, and to view their absence in a positive light, but then, these versions are not very well known or liked outside of their target audience.
  • 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.
  • The Diss Track
    • "How Do You Sleep?" is directed at Paul McCartney, evidently in response to some lines Lennon had read as being subtle digs at him in McCartney's Ram. McCartney later confirmed that "Too Many People" was indeed directed at Lennon, but they ultimately reconciled before Lennon's death. "How Do You Sleep?" reads as being absolutely scathing and incorporates several of McCartney's song titles ironically, but Lennon was already downplaying their differences shortly after the release of Imagine, saying, "There's really no feud between me and Paul. It's all good, clean fun." By the mid-seventies, he stated that the song was as much directed at himself as it was at Paul.
      • Some people have also read "Crippled Inside" as containing a few subtle digs at McCartney (That Other Wiki lists "You can live a lie until you die" as one of the lines interpreted this way), but it's not clear if Lennon ever confirmed this.
    • "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.
  • 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 Want to Be a Soldier."
    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
  • Evolving Music: Lennon wrote the melody of "Jealous Guy" in India in 1968, for a song called "Child of Nature". Perhaps because Paul had written "Mother Nature's Son" (both songs apparently inspired by the same Maharishi Mahesh Yogi lecture), John didn't attempt it for The White Album. He briefly tried it again in the early rehearsals for Let It Be (changing the original opening line from "on the road to Rishikesh" to "on the road to Marrakesh"). Obviously knowing it was a strong melody, he rewrote the lyrics from scratch for this album.
  • Face on the Cover: John's face in close-up.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: "Jealous Guy", in which the protagonist apologizes for offending his partner because he was just jealous.
  • Lighter and Softer: While Imagine does have "Gimme Some Truth," "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier," and "How Do You Sleep?", that Lennon could go in a year from singing "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.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Crippled Inside" has an upbeat melody with jaunty accompaniment, but the lyrics are quite dark and almost cynical.
  • 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" and "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier Mama."
    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?" and "How?"
  • "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."
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: "It's So Hard," where Lennon acknowledges both the good and difficult things about life. The album overall incorporates material at both ends, with "Imagine" being firmly at the idealistic end and other material ("How Do You Sleep?", "Crippled Inside") being very cynical. Most songs are somewhere in the middle, though.
  • Special Guest: George Harrison plays electric and slide guitar on "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier," "Gimme Some Truth," "Oh My Love," and "How Do You Sleep?". 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...
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Oh Yoko!" to "My Mummy's Dead", in a way. They both incorporate elements of the children's rhyme "Three Blind Mice" into their melodies, but "My Mummy's Dead" is a Grief Song for Lennon's mother sung in a Creepy Monotone, while "Oh Yoko!" is, of course, a love song to his wife.
  • War Is Hell: "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier," 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!