The second of John Lennon’s post-Beatles solo endeavours, Imagine has been a firm fan favourite since its release on September 9th 1971. It acted as the follow up to 1970’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and, in many ways, marked a continuation of the style Lennon had developed with the group in the immediate period following The Beatles’ split.
Both albums feature Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” production style, and many of the songs from Imagine feel as though they could have been plucked from that previous record. However, with Imagine, John Lennon had his sights set firmly on the number one spot.
Unlike John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, which was very well received by the critics but failed to capture the hearts of fans, Imagine was a huge hit in both the US and the UK. The production and arrangements on tracks like ‘Imagine’, ‘Jealous Guy’, and ‘Oh My Love’ represented from an angular and experimental sound to something polished, even, and sonically accessible.
‘How Do You Sleep?” was written in response to the lawsuit McCartney filed against The Beatles as well as to Paul’s own potent ‘Too Many People’, which he admitted had been targetted at Lennon.
The title track is, of course, the most recognisable song on the album. Written in the key of C Major and comprising of just 26 lines, it is a masterpiece of accessible songwriting. After the release of Imagine, the track became an anthem of peace and solidarity, with the public coming to regard it as one of the most defining songs of the liberal humanist cause. In that way, it has come to be seen as a song that captures the very essence of the human struggle against adversity.
As a whole, the album, typifies Lennon’s songwriting. and stands as one of the most brilliant solo albums of all time.
Imagine is an album of two distinct characters , it is a commercially accessible record crafted by Lennon out of a hunger to achieve greatness on his own terms and spread a message of peace and love across the entire globe, it is an album filled with mischief and confessional wit.
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