Imagine John Lennon at the age of 78?
Well, he would have turned just that on 9 October but for crazed music fan Mark David Chapman waiting outside the Dakota Building in New York where John stayed back in December of 1980.
Lennon was returning home from The Record Plant recording studio with his wife Yoko Ono when Chapman stopped him, asked for an autograph and then proceeded to shoot the ex-Beatle.
News of John’s violent death reverberated around the world not just because of his fame but also because of his activism for peace and the cessation of war, expressed so powerfully in songs like ‘Give Peace A Chance’ and ‘Imagine’.
‘Imagine’, John’s powerful musical masterpiece, has over the years become watered down … its radical suggestions for a world without religion, borders or material possessions, have been buried in heaps of sentimentality and hi-jacked by champagne liberals. John would probably have had a few caustic remarks to make about that.
And now to mark what would have been John’s 78thbirthday, Yoko Ono has released an understated and totally arresting cover version of ‘Imagine’ sung in her signature wailing style.
Now before the musically self-righteous, Beatle-loving, anti-Yoko lobby groups start to tear this act of audacity on Ms Ono’s part apart, here is a little known and highly relevant fact … in an interview with Playboy magazine John Lennon stated that ‘Imagine’ should have been co-credited to Yoko. He said: ‘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 her book Grapefruit.’
Yoko’s art may look, sound and feel like an assault on the senses to some but her influence on John’s artistic thinking, his creativity and politics should not be underestimated.
The John and Yoko story played out in such a way as to create the mysterious Lennon image that still exists to this day … one of a man who’s message grew way beyond his musicianship.
In 2017, Yoko Ono received an official credit as co-writer of the song ‘Imagine’.
Clive Ridgway – Program Director, Smile 90.4FM