Study Guide

Imagine

Imagine Introduction

In a Nutshell

If there's any song that doesn't need an introduction, it's got to be this one. 

"Imagine" is famous the world over as an anthem for peace, embodying the spirit of harmony that both John Lennon and Yoko Ono promoted through their music and art. It's written in the simplest piano key there is (C Major), and uses simple lyrics to construct a world in which people don't fight over anything: They just get along. 

Lennon may have been a dreamer, but once you've heard this song, you'll probably count yourself as a dreamer, too.

About the Song

ArtistLennon, John
Year1971
LabelApple Records
Writer(s)John Lennon
Producer(s)John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector
Musician(s)John Lennon
Learn to playPiano
AlbumImagine

Music Video

Influences on Lennon, John

Elvis
Bob Dylan
Chuck Berry
Marcel Duchamp
Yoko Ono
Lewis Carroll
Vincent Van Gogh
Liverpool
New York
The Vietnam War
The Gospel
Personal suffering

Influenced by Lennon, John

Elton John
Bob Dylan
The Rolling Stones
Oasis
Yoko Ono
Ray Charles
Ike and Tina Turner
Radiohead
Peace crusaders

Imagine Resources

Books

Hunter Davies, The Beatles (1996)
From their official biographer comes a sweeping timeline of the band's saga, with all the history and heartbreak that we have come to know and love.

Cynthia Lennon, John (2006)
His first wife's take on his life, obviously a little less worshipping and a little more scathing than some of the other biographies.

John Lennon, In His Own Write (2000)
Published posthumously, this collection of John's writings contains an introduction by Yoko Ono and also a humorous Carroll-esque "About the Author" section.

Philip Norman, Shout! The Beatles in Their Generation (1996)
"The best, most detailed, and most serious biography of the Beatles and their time."—Chicago Sun-Times

Philip Norman, John Lennon: The Life (2008)
The definitive biography of the musical genius for peace, written by the author of Shout!

Yoko Ono, Grapefruit: A Book of Drawings and Instructions (1964)
This is the collection of instructional poetry that got John to fall in love with Yoko and later inspired "Imagine." The first line of the book is, "Burn this book after you read it," and John's contribution is, "This is the greatest book I've ever burned."

Movies & TV

John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band: Live in Toronto '69 (2009)
A live video recording of the band's first public appearance.

Across the Universe (2007)
This film is an artistic tribute to the Beatles. It's a musical journey which follows a young couple, Jude and Lucy (both song title characters) through a crazy trip of love and discovery. The band's songs are covered throughout the movie by various famous artists.

The U.S. vs. John Lennon (2006)
This film that chronicles the never-ending troubles Lennon faced at the hands of the Nixon administration and men like J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI. Considered a viable threat to national security for his leftist leanings, he was threatened with deportation repeatedly and given endless grief by the federal government.

John & Yoko: Give Peace a Song (2006)
Footage from their most famous bed-in, a seven-day stay at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada in May 1969.

The Beatles Anthology (1995)
A collection of documentaries spanning the entire career of the band.

Imagine (1988)
Edited from hundreds of hours of footage, a compelling and touching look at one man who shaped the later half of the 20th century and changed music forever.

Websites

John Lennon's Official Site
This site's pretty minimal but we had to plug it.

Imagine Peace
This website is dedicated to John and Yoko, created by Ono after his death.

Jonathan Cott, "John Lennon: The Rolling Stone Interview," Rolling Stone (1968)
This great interview covers The White Album and Two Virgins, among other subjects.

Pete Hamill, "John Lennon: Long Night's Journey Into Day," Rolling Stone (1972)
Hamill asks some hard-hitting questions about the other band members, Yoko, and his past.

David Sheff, "Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono," Playboy (1980)
We've quoted this interview of John and Yoko over and over because it contains so much insight into his thoughts and the rest of the band. Read it; you won't be disappointed.

Jonathan Cott, "John Lennon: The Last Interview," Rolling Stone (1980, 2010)
Conducted just three days before his death on December 9th, this interview captures John at his most philosophical, on life, love, feminism, peace, and the future.

Pete Hamill, "The Death and Life of John Lennon," New York Magazine (1980)
A touching and well-written article detailing the biography of Lennon and the appalling news of his assassination that rocked an entire generation of people.

Video & Audio

John Lennon, "Imagine"
Here's the official video—the film features John and Yoko walking together, showing the world the deep love they have for one another and their message of peace. It gained immense popularity worldwide and continues to have a profound impact on its listener's today.

Letters from Lennon's Killer, CNN
The arresting officer talks about Lennon's murderer, Mark David Chapman. What a mess of a guy.

John and Yoko's Bed-In
This was their non-violent protest against war. The media flocked to it, thinking they were going to get footage of the pair having sex, but instead, all they got was the two of them sitting in bed and talking about peace.

John and Yoko, "Give Peace a Chance"
This is one of the couple's collaborative records protesting against violence. One line is, "Stay in bed and grow your hair."