Imagine (John Lennon song)
"Imagine" is a song co-written and performed by English musician John Lennon. The best-selling single of his solo career, its lyrics encourage the listener to imagine a world at peace without the barriers of borders or the divisions of religion and nationality and to consider the possibility that the whole of humanity would live unattached to material possessions. Shortly before his death, Lennon said that much of the song's "lyric and content" came from his wife Yoko Ono, and in 2017, she received a co-writing credit.
|Single by John Lennon|
|from the album Imagine|
|Released||11 October 1971 (US)|
24 October 1975 (UK)
|Studio||Ascot Sound Studios, Ascot|
Record Plant East, New York
|John Lennon US singles chronology|
|John Lennon UK singles chronology|
Lennon and Ono co-produced the song and album of the same name with Phil Spector. Recording began at Lennon's home studio at Tittenhurst Park, England, in May 1971, with final overdubs taking place at the Record Plant, in New York City, during July. One month after the September release of the LP, Lennon released "Imagine" as a single in the United States; the song peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and the LP reached number one on the UK chart in November, later becoming the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed album of Lennon's solo career. Although not originally released as a single in the United Kingdom, it was released in 1975 to promote Shaved Fish, a compilation LP and it reached number six on the chart that year. The photograph on the cover was taken by May Pang in 1974. The song has since sold more than 1.6 million copies in the UK; it reached number one following Lennon's murder in December 1980. In 1985, the Central Park Conservancy memorialised a portion of the park in honour of Lennon, called Strawberry Fields, with a mosaic that reads "Imagine".
BMI named "Imagine" one of the 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century. The song ranked number 30 on the Recording Industry Association of America's list of the 365 Songs of the Century bearing the most historical significance. It earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. A UK survey conducted by the Guinness World Records British Hit Singles Book named it the second best single of all time, while Rolling Stone ranked it number three in their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Since 2005, event organisers have played it just before the New Year's Times Square Ball drops in New York City. Dozens of artists have performed or recorded versions of "Imagine", including Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Joan Baez, Lady Gaga, Elton John and Diana Ross. Emeli Sandé recorded a cover for the BBC to use during the end credits montage at the close of the 2012 Summer Olympics coverage in August 2012. "Imagine" subsequently re-entered the UK Top 40, reaching number 18.
Composition and writingEdit
Several poems from Yoko Ono's 1964 book Grapefruit inspired Lennon to write the lyrics for "Imagine" – in particular, one which Capitol Records reproduced on the back cover of the original Imagine LP titled "Cloud Piece", reads: "Imagine the clouds dripping, dig a hole in your garden to put them in." Lennon later said the composition "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." When asked about the song's meaning during a December 1980 interview with David Sheff for Playboy magazine, Lennon told Sheff that Dick Gregory had given Ono and him a Christian prayer book, which inspired him the concept behind "Imagine".
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.
With the combined influence of "Cloud Piece" and the prayer book given to him by Gregory, Lennon wrote what author John Blaney described as "a humanistic paean for the people". Blaney wrote, "Lennon contends that global harmony is within our reach, but only if we reject the mechanisms of social control that restrict human potential." Rolling Stone's David Fricke commented: "[Lennon] calls for a unity and equality built upon the complete elimination of modern social order: geopolitical borders, organised religion, [and] economic class."
Lennon stated: "'Imagine', which says: 'Imagine that there was no more religion, no more country, no more politics,' is virtually the Communist Manifesto, even though I'm not particularly a Communist and I do not belong to any movement." He 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." Ono described the lyrical statement of "Imagine" as "just what John believed: that we are all one country, one world, one people." Rolling Stone described its lyrics as "22 lines of graceful, plain-spoken faith in the power of a world, united in purpose, to repair and change itself".[nb 1] Atheist author Richard Dawkins embraced it as an "atheist anthem". Lennon himself stated that his song "did not discourage faith".
Lennon composed "Imagine" one morning in early 1971, on a Steinway piano, in a bedroom at his Tittenhurst Park estate in Ascot, Berkshire, England. Ono watched as he composed the melody, chord structure and almost all the lyrics, nearly completing the song in one brief writing session. Described as a piano ballad performed in the soft rock genre, the song is in the key of C major. Its 4-bar piano introduction begins with a C chord then moves to Cmaj7 before changing to F; the 12-bar verses also follow this chord progression, with their last 4 bars moving from Am/E to Dm and Dm/C, finishing with G, G11 then G7, before resolving back to C. The 8-bar choruses progress from F to G to C, then Cmaj7 and E before ending on E7, a C chord substituted for E7 in the final bar. The 4-bar outro begins with F, then G, before resolving on C. With a duration of 3 minutes and 3 seconds and a time signature of 4/4, the song's tempo falls around 75 beats per minute.
Recording and commercial receptionEdit
Lennon and Ono co-produced the song and album with Phil Spector, who commented on the track: "We knew what we were going to do ... It was going to be John making a political statement, but a very commercial one as well ... I always thought that 'Imagine' was like the national anthem." Lennon described his working arrangement with Ono and Spector: "Phil doesn't arrange or anything like that—[Ono] and Phil will just sit in the other room and shout comments like, 'Why don't you try this sound' or 'You're not playing the piano too well' ... I'll get the initial idea and ... we'll just find a sound from [there]."
Recording took place on 27 May 1971 at Ascot Sound Studios, Lennon's newly built home studio at Tittenhurst Park, with string overdubs taking place on 4 July 1971 at the Record Plant, in New York City. Relaxed and patient, the sessions began during the late morning, running to just before dinner in the early evening. Lennon taught the musicians the chord progression and a working arrangement for "Imagine", rehearsing the song until he deemed the musicians ready to record. In his attempt to recreate Lennon's desired sound, Spector had some early tapings feature Lennon and Nicky Hopkins playing in different octaves on one piano. He also initially attempted to record the piano part with Lennon playing the white baby grand in the couple's all-white room. However, after having deemed the room's acoustics unsuitable, Spector abandoned the idea in favour of the superior environment of Lennon's home studio. They completed the session in minutes, recording three takes and choosing the second one for release. The finished recording featured Lennon on piano and vocal, Klaus Voormann on bass guitar, Alan White on drums and the Flux Fiddlers on strings.
Issued by Apple Records in the United States in October 1971, "Imagine" became the best-selling single of Lennon's solo career. It peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached number one in Canada on the RPM national singles chart, remaining there for two weeks. Upon its release the song's lyrics upset some religious groups, particularly the line: "Imagine there's no heaven". When asked about the song during one of his final interviews, Lennon said he considered it to be as strong a composition as any he had written with the Beatles. He described the song's meaning and explicated its commercial appeal: "Anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic, but because it is sugarcoated it is accepted ... Now I understand what you have to do. Put your political message across with a little honey." In an open letter to Paul McCartney published in Melody Maker, Lennon said that "Imagine" was "'Working Class Hero' with sugar on it for conservatives like yourself". On 30 November 1971, the Imagine LP reached number one on the UK chart. It became the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed album of Lennon's solo career.
Film and re-releasesEdit
In 1972, Lennon and Ono released an 81-minute film to accompany the Imagine album which featured footage of the couple in their home, garden and the recording studio of their Berkshire property at Tittenhurst Park as well as in New York City. A full-length documentary rock video, the film's first scene features a shot of Lennon and Ono walking through a thick fog, arriving at their house as the song "Imagine" begins. Above the front door to their house is a sign that reads: "This Is Not Here", the title of Ono's then New York art show. The next scene shows Lennon sitting at a white grand piano in a dimly lit, all-white room. Ono gradually walks around opening curtains that allow in light, making the room brighter with the song's progression. At the song's conclusion, Ono sits beside Lennon at the piano, and they share a quaint gaze, then a brief kiss.
Several celebrities appeared in the film, including Andy Warhol, Fred Astaire, Jack Palance, Dick Cavett and George Harrison. Derided by critics as "the most expensive home movie of all time", it premiered to an American audience in 1972. In 1986, Zbigniew Rybczyński made a music video for the song, and in 1987, it won both the "Silver Lion" award for Best Clip at Cannes and the Festival Award at the Rio International Film Festival.
Released as a single in the United Kingdom in 1975 in conjunction with the album Shaved Fish, "Imagine" peaked at number six on the UK Singles Chart. Following Lennon's murder in 1980, the single re-entered the UK chart, reaching number one, where it remained for four weeks in January 1981. "Imagine" was re-released as a single in the UK in 1988, peaking at number 45, and again in 1999, reaching number three. It has sold 1,640,000 copies in the UK as of June 2013, making it Lennon's best-selling single. In 1999, on National Poetry Day in the United Kingdom, the BBC announced that listeners had voted "Imagine" Britain's favourite song lyric. In 2003, it reached number 33 as the B-side to a re-release of "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)".
Recognition and criticismEdit
Rolling Stone described "Imagine" as Lennon's "greatest musical gift to the world", praising "the serene melody; the pillowy chord progression; [and] that beckoning, four-note [piano] figure". Robert Christgau called it "both a hymn for the Movement and a love song for his wife, celebrating a Yokoism and a Marcusianism simultaneously". Included in several song polls, in 1999, BMI named it one of the top 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century. Also that year, it received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. "Imagine" ranked number 23 in the list of best-selling singles of all time in the UK, in 2000. In 2002, a UK survey conducted by the Guinness World Records British Hit Singles Book ranked it the second best single of all time behind Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". Gold Radio ranked the song number three on its "Gold's greatest 1000 hits" list.
Rolling Stone ranked "Imagine" number three on its list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time", describing it as "an enduring hymn of solace and promise that has carried us through extreme grief, from the shock of Lennon's own death in 1980 to the unspeakable horror of September 11th. It is now impossible to imagine a world without 'Imagine', and we need it more than he ever dreamed." Despite that sentiment, Clear Channel Communications (now known today as iHeartMedia) included the song on its post-9/11 "do not play" list.[nb 2]
On 1 January 2005, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation named "Imagine" the greatest song in the past 100 years as voted by listeners on the show 50 Tracks. The song ranked number 30 on the Recording Industry Association of America's list of the 365 Songs of the Century bearing the most historical significance. Virgin Radio conducted a UK favourite song survey in December 2005, and listeners voted "Imagine" number one. Australians selected it the greatest song of all time on the Nine Network's 20 to 1 countdown show on 12 September 2006. They voted it eleventh in the youth radio network Triple J's Hottest 100 Of All Time on 11 July 2009.
Jimmy Carter said, "in many countries around the world – my wife and I have visited about 125 countries– you hear John Lennon's song 'Imagine' used almost equally with national anthems."[nb 3] On 9 October 2010, which would have been Lennon's 70th birthday, the Liverpool Singing Choir performed "Imagine" along with other Lennon songs at the unveiling of the John Lennon Peace Monument in Chavasse Park, Liverpool, England. Beatles producer George Martin praised Lennon's solo work, singling out the composition: "My favourite song of all was 'Imagine'". Music critic Paul Du Noyer described "Imagine" as Lennon's "most revered" post-Beatles song. Authors Ben Urish and Ken Bielen called it "the most subversive pop song recorded to achieve classic status". Fricke commented: "'Imagine' is a subtly contentious song, Lennon's greatest combined achievement as a balladeer and agitator."
Urish and Bielen criticised the song's instrumental music as overly sentimental and melodramatic, comparing it to the music of the pre-rock era and describing the vocal melody as understated. According to Blaney, Lennon's lyrics describe hypothetical possibilities that offer no practical solutions; lyrics that are at times nebulous and contradictory, asking the listener to abandon political systems while encouraging one similar to communism. Author Chris Ingham indicated the hypocrisy in Lennon, the millionaire rock star living in a mansion, encouraging listeners to imagine living their lives without possessions. Others argue that Lennon intended the song's lyrics to inspire listeners to imagine if the world could live without possessions, not as an explicit call to give them up. Blaney commented: "Lennon knew he had nothing concrete to offer, so instead he offers a dream, a concept to be built upon."
Blaney considered the song to be "riddled with contradictions. Its hymn-like setting sits uncomfortably alongside its author's plea for us to envision a world without religion." Urish and Bielen described Lennon's "dream world" without a heaven or hell as a call to "make the best world we can here and now, since this is all this is or will be". In their opinion, "because we are asked merely to imagine – to play a 'what if' game, Lennon can escape the harshest criticisms". Former Beatle Ringo Starr defended the song's lyrics during a 1981 interview with Barbara Walters, stating: "[Lennon] said 'imagine', that's all. Just imagine it."
The morning after the November 2015 Paris attacks, German pianist Davide Martello brought a grand piano to the street out in front of the Bataclan, where 89 concertgoers had been shot dead the night before, and performed an instrumental version to honour the victims of the attacks; video of his performance went viral. This led Katy Waldman of Slate to ponder why "Imagine" had become so frequently performed as a response to tragedy. In addition to its general popularity, she noted its musical simplicity, its key of C major, "the plainest and least complicated key, with no sharps or flats" aside from one passage with "a plaintive major seventh chord that allows a tiny bit of E minor into the tonic". That piano part, "gentle as a rocking chair", underpins lyrics that, Waldman says, "belongs to the tradition of hymns or spirituals that visualize a glorious afterlife without prophesizing any immediate end to suffering on earth". This understanding is also compounded by the historical context of Lennon's own violent death, "remind[ing] us that the universe can run ramshod over idealistic people". Ultimately, the song "captures the fragility of our hope after a violent or destructive event ... [bu]t also reveals its tenacity".
Performances and cover versionsEdit
In December 1971, Lennon and Ono appeared at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Lennon performed "Imagine" with an acoustic guitar, yielding the earliest known live recording of the song, later included on the John Lennon Anthology (1998). In 1975, he sang "Imagine" during his final public performance, a birthday celebration for Lew Grade.
Elton John performed the song regularly on his world tour in 1980, including at his free concert in Central Park, a few blocks away from Lennon's apartment in The Dakota. On 9 December 1980, the day after Lennon's murder, Queen performed "Imagine" as a tribute to him during their Wembley Arena show in London. In 1983, David Bowie performed it in Hong Kong during his Serious Moonlight Tour, on the third anniversary of Lennon's death. On 9 October 1990, more than one billion people listened to a broadcast of the song on what would have been Lennon's 50th birthday. Ratau Mike Makhalemele covered the song on an EP of Lennon covers in 1990. In 1991–92, Liza Minnelli performed the song in her show at Radio City Music Hall. Stevie Wonder gave his rendition of the song, with the Morehouse College Glee Club, during the closing ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics as a tribute to the victims of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing. In 2001, Neil Young performed it during the benefit concert America: A Tribute to Heroes. Madonna performed "Imagine" during the benefit Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope.[nb 4] Peter Gabriel performed the song during the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony. Herman Cain, then the CEO of Godfather's Pizza, performed a parody of "Imagine", identified as "Imagine There's No Pizza", before the Omaha Press Club in 1991, which became a viral video when he ran for President of the United States 20 years later.
Since 2005, "Imagine" has been played prior to the New Year's Eve ball drop at New York City's Times Square. Beginning in 2010, the song has been performed live; first by Taio Cruz, then in 2011 by CeeLo Green and in 2012 by Train. However, Green received criticism for changing the lyric "and no religion too" to "and all religions true", resulting in an immediate backlash from fans who believed that he had disrespected Lennon's legacy by changing the lyrics of his most iconic song. Green defended the change by saying it meant to represent "a world [where you] could believe what [you] wanted". The event got media attention outside of the US, with Britain's The Guardian stating "Lennon's original lyrics don't praise pluralism or interchangeable religious truths – they damn them".
More than 200 artists have recorded cover versions of "Imagine". Joan Baez included it on 1972's Come from the Shadows and Diana Ross recorded a version for her 1973 album, Touch Me in the Morning. In 1995, Blues Traveler recorded the song for the Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon album and Dave Matthews has performed the song live with them. American guitarist Eva Cassidy recorded a version for her 2002 album of the same name; this version failed to reach the top 100 in the United Kingdom but peaked at number 35 on the UK Indie Chart. A Perfect Circle covered the song for the album eMOTIVe, released in 2004. Dolly Parton recorded the song for her 2005 covers album Those Were the Days. David Archuleta reached number 36 in US and number 31 in Canada with his rendition. A cover version of the song, performed by Italian singer Marco Carta, entered the top 20 in Italy in 2009, peaking at number 13. Seal, Pink, India.Arie, Jeff Beck, Konono Nº1, Oumou Sangaré and others recorded a version for Herbie Hancock's 2010 album The Imagine Project.
Hancock performed it with Arie, Kristina Train and Greg Phillinganes at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert on 11 December. On 13 February 2011, the recording—with Pink, Seal, Malian singer Oumou Sangaré, India.Arie and Jeff Beck won a Grammy award for Best Pop Vocal Collaboration.
The song was performed as part of the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Performed by the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir and the Liverpool Signing Choir, the choirs sang the first verse and accompanied Lennon's original vocals during the rest of the song.[nb 5] A cover performed by Emeli Sandé was also used by the BBC for a closing montage that ended its coverage. "Imagine" subsequently re-entered the UK Top 40, reaching number 18.
In 2015, American singer and songwriter Lady Gaga performed the song at the 2015 European Games opening ceremony. The song was played for 70,000 people in Baku, Azerbaijan that served as host of the event. In 2018, the song was performed at the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang (South Korea). The same year Yoko Ono released her version of the song, with herself co-credited as writer.
Charts and certificationsEdit
Certification and salesEdit
- List of anti-war songs
- List of best-selling singles in the United Kingdom
- List of best-selling singles of the 1980s in the United Kingdom
- List of Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles in 1971
- List of number-one singles in Australia during the 1970s
- List of number-one singles of 1971 (Canada)
- List of number-one singles of 1975 (Ireland)
- List of number-one singles of 1981 (Ireland)
- List of number-one hits (Italy)
- List of UK Singles Chart number ones of the 1980s
- The lyrical content of "Imagine" relates to Lennon's concept of Nutopia: The Country of Peace, which he invented in 1973. Lennon included a symbolically mute anthem to this country on his album Mind Games released later that year.
- In 1991, the BBC restricted "Imagine" from airplay during the Gulf War.
- Yoko Ono dedicated the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland in 2007.
- Madonna included the song in her set list during the 2004 Re-Invention World Tour and released it on the live album and DVD documentary I'm Going to Tell You a Secret in 2006.
- The first adaptation of the original 8-track recording of "Imagine", Lennon also appeared in video.
- Album track from Live in New York City.
- Shea, Christopher D. (10 October 2018). "Yoko Ono: 'Imagine'". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
- Pang 2008.
- "Strawberry Fields". Central Park Conservancy. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
- Sheff 1981, pp. 212–13.
- Spizer, Bruce (2005). The Beatles Solo on Apple Records. 498 Productions, LLC. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-9662649-5-1.
- Blaney 2007, p. 51.
- Blaney 2007, p. 52.
- Fricke 2012, p. 59.
- Wenner 2010, p. 13.
- Blaney 2007, p. 82.
- Eyre, Hermione (1 November 2006). "Atheists should be louder and prouder". The Independent. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
- Barker, Memphis (25 August 2017). "Pakistani school drops plans to sing John Lennon's Imagine after accusations it encourages atheism". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
- Floman, Scott. "John Lennon – Overview". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- Trust, Gary (10 April 2013). "A History Of Hit Piano Ballads On The Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- Otte, Jef (11 January 2012). "Imagine that: John Lennon fans turn into zealots over Cee Lo's change in lyrics". Westword. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- Lennon 1983, pp. 5–9.
- For the musical notation to "Imagine" see: Lennon 1983, pp. 5–9; for the piano on which Lennon composed "Imagine" see: "George Michael buys Lennon's piano". BBC News. 18 October 2000. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- For Spector co-producing with Lennon and Ono see: Du Noyer 1971, pp. 1–14; for "I always thought that song was like the national anthem" see: Levy 2005, p. 87.
- Blaney 2007, pp. 50–51.
- Madinger & Raile 2015, pp. 239, 247.
- Fricke 2012, p. 58.
- Blaney 2007, p. 53.
- Roberts 2005, p. 292.
- Blaney 2007, p. 57.
- "Top RPM Singles: Issue 7536." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "RPM 100 Singles". RPM. 4 December 1971. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- Harry 2000, p. 382.
- Levy 2005, p. 87.
- Doggett, Peter (2009). You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup (1st US hardcover ed.). Harper. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-06-177446-1.
- Badman, Keith (1999). The Beatles After the Breakup 1970–2000: A Day-by-Day Diary (2001 ed.). Omnibus. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-7119-8307-6.
- Goldman, Albert (1988). The Lives of John Lennon. William Morrow and Company. p. 397. ISBN 1-55652-399-8.
- "George Michael buys Lennon's piano". BBC News. 18 October 2000. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
- Harry 2000, p. 378.
- For a description of the room and Ono opening shutters see: Edmondson, Jacqueline (2010). John Lennon: A Biography. Greenwood. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-313-37938-3.; for the title of Ono's then New York art show see: Harry 2000, pp. 907–8.
- Norman, Philip (2008). John Lennon: The Life. ECCO (Harper Collins). p. 763. ISBN 978-0-06-075401-3.
- "Artist/VIP gallery: Zbigniew Rybczynski". Polish American Film Society. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- "John Lennon". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- Roberts 2005, p. 292: Lennon's best-selling single; for 1.64 million copies sold in the UK see: Lane, Daniel (27 June 2013). "Daft Punk's Get Lucky becomes one of the UK's biggest selling singles of all-time!". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- Roberts 2005, p. 292: The 2003 re-release and peak UK chart position of "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"; Blaney 2007, p. 282: "Imagine" as the B-side of the 2003 re-release of "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)".
- Christgau, Robert (1981). "John Lennon: Imagine". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 0-8-9919-025-1. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
- "BMI Announces Top 100 Songs of the Century". BMI. 13 December 1999. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame – i". Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
- "Songs that shaped Rock and Roll: "Imagine"". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 1999. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
- Morgan-Gan, Theo. "The UK's Best Selling Singles". Ukcharts.20m.com. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
- "Queen rock on in poll". BBC News. 8 May 2002. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
- "Gold's Top 1000: Day 4". Gold. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Morello, Tom (1 November 2001). "The New Blacklist: The nation's largest radio network's list of 'questionable' songs". FAIR. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
- Peddie, Ian (2006). The Resisting Muse: Popular Music And Social Protest. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 13. ISBN 0-7546-5114-2.
- Jackson, Andrew Grant (2012). Still the Greatest: The Essential Songs of the Beatles' Solo Careers. Scarecrow Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-8108-8222-5.
- "Virgin Radio All Time Top 500 Songs". Last.fm. 31 December 2005. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Hottest 100 Of All Time 2009". ABC Online. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- Elliott, Debbie (5 November 2006). "Carter helps monitor Nicaragua presidential election". NPR. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
- Marter, Joan (2011). The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art, Volume 1. Oxford University Press. p. 596. ISBN 978-0-19-533579-8.
- "Peace monument unveiled in Liverpool for John Lennon's 70th (VIDEO & PICS)". Archived from the original on 13 October 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.. Liverpool Daily Post. 9 October 2010.
- "Imagine ... if he was still alive: Sculpture of Peace unveiled to mark John Lennon's life on his 70th birthday". Daily Mail. London. 10 October 2010.
- Coleman, Ray (1992). Lennon: The Definitive Biography (Updated ed.). Harper Perennial. p. 370. ISBN 978-0-06-098608-7.
- Du Noyer 1971, p. 1.
- Urish & Bielen 2007, p. 27.
- Ingham 2009, p. 99.
- "Paris attacks: What we know so far". France 24. 15 November 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
- Waldman, Katy (18 November 2015). "Why Do We Always Turn to John Lennon's 'Imagine' After a Violent Tragedy". Slate. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
- ""Imagine" après les attentats : entretien avec le pianiste qui a ému Paris" (in French). Metronews. 14 November 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
- Aswad, Jem (14 June 2017). "Yoko Ono to Receive Songwriting Credit on John Lennon's 'Imagine'". Variety. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
- Blaney 2007, p. 56.
- Bernardin, Claude; Stanton, Tom (1995). Rocket Man: The Encyclopedia of Elton John. Greenwood. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-313-29700-7.
- Sutcliffe, Phil (2009). Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock. Voyageur Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-7603-3719-6.
- Halliday, Ayun (12 February 2018). "Watch David Bowie Perform "Imagine": A Touching Tribute to His Friend John Lennon (1983)". Open Culture. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Today in Music History: A look at events from past Oct. 9ths". The Province. 9 October 2012. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
- Currin, Brian. "Mike Makhalemele – Mind Games". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 23 March 2014.
- Holden, Stephen (25 April 1991). "Review/Pop; Liza Minnelli Pays A Musical Tribute". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
- Frey, Jennifer (5 August 1996). "A Curtain Call in Atlanta". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
- Melnick, Jeffrey (2009). 9/11 Culture. Wiley-Blackwel. pp. 39, 61. ISBN 978-1-4051-7372-8.
- Mitchell, Claudia A.; Reid-Walsh, Jacqueline, eds. (2007). Girl Culture: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1. Greenwood. p. 413. ISBN 978-0-313-33909-7.
- For the inclusion of "Imagine" in the set-list for the Re-Invention World Tour, see: Timmerman, Dirk (2007). Madonna Live! Secret Re-inventions and Confessions on Tour. Maklu. p. 27. ISBN 978-90-8595-002-8. and: Mervis, Scott (4 November 2012). "Madonna to perform Tuesday at Consol Energy Center". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 19 November 2012.. For the inclusion of "Imagine" in the DVD documentary I'm Going to Tell You a Secret, see: "Madonna Spilling 'Secrets' In June". Billboard. 27 April 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
- "Gabriel, Pavarotti Participate In Surreal Olympic Opening". Billboard. 10 February 2006. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
- Dean, Sam (17 October 2011). "Watch Herman Cain Sing a Pizza Version of 'Imagine'". Bon Appétit. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
- James, Frank (18 October 2011). "Herman Cain Delivers In 'Imagine There's No Pizza' Song". NPR. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
- For "Imagine" being played in 2005's New Year's Eve celebration in New York see: Gilmore, Hugh (17 May 2012). "John Lennon's "Imagine" meets the DSM". Chestnut Hill Local. Retrieved 19 October 2012.; for "Imagine" being played "in its customary spot leading up to midnight" during 2010's New Year's Eve celebration in New York see: "Hello 2010: Huge, Wet Crowd Rings In New Year In Times Square". NY1. 1 January 2010. Archived from the original on 22 November 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2012.. For "Imagine" being played in 2011's New Year's Eve celebration in New York see: Golgowski, Nina (2 January 2012). "Cee Lo Green changes lyrics to Lennon's Imagine to include pro-religion message enraging fans". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
- Cooper, Gael Fashingbauer (1 January 2012). "Fans angry that Cee Lo changed 'Imagine' lyrics". NBC News. Archived from the original on 29 April 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- "Cee Lo Green criticised for changing lyrics to John Lennon's Imagine". The Guardian. Baku 2015. 3 January 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
- "Cover versions of Imagine written by John Lennon". Second Hand Songs. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "Imagine a World With Only Good Covers". UpVenue. 19 November 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
- Fricke 2012, p. 63.
- Gnatt, Brian (1 November 1995). "Records". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Eva Cassidy – Imagine". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
- "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50 17 November 2002 – 23 November 2002". Official Charts Company. 17 November 2002. Retrieved 27 November 2018.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Dolly Parton – Those Were the Days". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
- "Search results: David Archuleta – Imagine". Billboard. Retrieved 22 December 2018.
- "Italiancharts.com – Marco Carta – Imagine". Italiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
- Kelman, John (21 June 2010). "Herbie Hancock: The Imagine Project (2010)". All About Jazz. Retrieved 29 November 2010.
- "Past Winners Search". Grammy.com. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- Makarechi, Kia (12 August 2012). "John Lennon & Closing Ceremony: Video Of Late Beatle Singing 'Imagine' Wows At London Olympics". HuffPost. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
- Holden, Steve (15 August 2012). "Olympics closing ceremony sales boost for music artists". Newsbeat. BBC. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- Szalai, Georg (20 August 2012). "Summer Olympics Opening, Closing Ceremony Performers Rise on U.K. Charts". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- "Lady Gaga stars in Baku 2015 Opening Ceremony". Baku 2015. 12 June 2015.
- Graham, Bryan Armen (9 February 2018). "Winter Olympics opening ceremony: Koreans enter under unified flag – as it happened". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
- "Go-Set Australian charts – 1 January 1972". Go-Set. Retrieved 1 July 2014.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 175. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "Ultratop.be – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band – Imagine" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 7554." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Offiziellecharts.de – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band – Imagine". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- Okamoto, Satoshi (2011). Single Chart Book: Complete Edition 1968–2010 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. ISBN 4-87131-088-4.
- "Nederlandse Top 40 – John Lennon - Imagine" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band – Imagine" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "Norwegiancharts.com – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band – Imagine". VG-lista. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (L)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Swisscharts.com – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band – Imagine". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "Imagine – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending NOVEMBER 20, 1971". Cash Box. Archived from the original on 14 August 2012. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "The Singles Chart" (PDF). Record World. 20 November 1971. p. 33. ISSN 0034-1622. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Imagine". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Swedishcharts.com – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band – Imagine". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Austriancharts.at – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band – Imagine" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Charts.nz – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band – Imagine". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Australian-charts.com – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band – Imagine". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Le Détail par Artiste" (in French). InfoDisc. Select "John Lennon" from the artist drop-down menu. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "Lescharts.com – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band – Imagine" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "Italiancharts.com – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band – Imagine". Top Digital Download. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Spanishcharts.com – John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band – Imagine" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "RPM 100 Top Singles of '71". RPM. 8 January 1972. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1971" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1971" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 424. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1972". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Jaaroverzichten 1981" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1981" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
- "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1981" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- Rice, Tim; Rice, Jonathan; Gambaccini, Paul (1990). Guinness Hits of the 80s. Guinness Publishing. p. 288. ISBN 978-0-85112-398-1.
- Lane, Daniel (27 June 2013). "Daft Punk's Get Lucky becomes one of the UK's biggest selling singles of all-time!". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- "Italian single certifications – John Lennon – Imagine" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 5 March 2018. Select "Tutti gli anni" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Imagine" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
- Copsey, Rob (19 September 2017). "The UK's Official Chart 'millionaires' revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
- "British single certifications – John Lennon – Imagine". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 19 May 2016. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Imagine in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- Blaney, John (2007). Lennon and McCartney: Together Alone (1st ed.). Jawbone Press. ISBN 978-1-906002-02-2.
- Du Noyer, Paul (1971). Imagine (Media notes). John Lennon. Capitol Records.
- Ingham, Chris (2009). The Rough Guide to the Beatles (3rd ed.). Rough Guides. ISBN 978-1-84836-525-4.
- Fricke, David (2012) . "The Making of 'Imagine'". In Wenner, Jann. John Lennon: The Ultimate Guide to His Life, Music, and Legend. Rolling Stone. ISBN 978-7-09-893419-6.
- Harry, Bill (2000). The John Lennon Encyclopedia. Virgin. ISBN 978-0-7535-0404-8.
- Levy, Joe, ed. (2005). Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (First Paperback ed.). Wenner Books. ISBN 978-1-932958-61-4.
- Lennon, John (1983). The John Lennon Collection. Hal Leonard. ISBN 978-0-7935-0265-3.
- Madinger, Chip; Raile, Scott (2015). Lennonology Strange Days Indeed – A Scrapbook of Madness. Chesterfield, MO: Open Your Books, LLC. ISBN 978-1-63110-175-5.
- Pang, May (2008). Instamatic Karma. St. Martins Press (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-312-37741-0.
- Roberts, David, ed. (2005). British Hit Singles & Albums (18 ed.). Guinness World Records Limited. ISBN 978-1-904994-00-8.
- Sheff, David (1981). Golson, G. Barry, ed. All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono (2000 ed.). St Martin's Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-25464-3.
- Urish, Ben; Bielen, Ken (2007). The Words and Music of John Lennon. Praeger. ISBN 978-0-275-99180-7.
- Wenner, Jann (2010) . 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. OCLC 641731526.
- Borack, John (2010). John Lennon: Life Is What Happens. Krause Publications. ISBN 978-1-4402-1391-5.
- George-Warren, Holly, ed. (2001). The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (2005 revised and updated ed.). Fireside. ISBN 978-0-7432-9201-6.
- Riley, Tim (2011). Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music – The Definitive Life. Hyperion. ISBN 978-1-4013-2452-0.
- Tillery, Gary (2009). The Cynical Idealist: A Spiritual Biography of John Lennon. Quest Books. ISBN 978-0-8356-0875-6.
- Wenner, Jann (2000). George-Warren, Holly, ed. Lennon Remembers. Verso. ISBN 978-1-85984-600-1.