“Imagine” is not just a John Lennon song anymore.
Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono received what’s long been considered an overdue co-writing credit for the 1971 anthem on Wednesday night (June 14) in New York, where “Imagine” received the National Music Publishers Association Centennial Song Award during the organization’s annual meeting.
The move was a surprise to Ono and came after the NMPA played a BBC interview with John Lennon saying that “Imagine” “should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because a lot of it — the lyric and the concept — came from Yoko. But those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to emotion her contribution. But it was right out of ‘Grapefruit,’ her book. There’s a whole pile of pieces about ‘imagine this’ and ‘imagine that.'”
Ono and her son Sean Lennon attended the ceremony, and Lennon posted a message on Facebook saying, “Proudest day of my life: The National Music Publishers Association just gave the Centennial (Song of The Century) Award to ‘Imagine.’ But WAIT! Surprise! They played an audio interview of my father saying (approximately) ‘Imagine’ should have been credited as a Lennon/Ono song. If it had been anyone other than my wife I would have given them credit.’ Cut to my mother welling up in tears, and then Patti and Jesse Smith played ‘Imagine’! Patience is a virtue (PS Then they officially declared ‘Imagine’ to be a Lennon/Ono song!).”
“Imagine” was a No. 1 hit in the U.K. and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. It was the title track for Lennon’s first proper solo album, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and has been certified double-platinum.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.