When it comes to music, 1971 delivered strong with hits across the board. The biggest song of the year was George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” which hit number one in various countries. The second biggest song of the year, however, belonged to his former Beatles bandmate.
Imagine there’s no heaven
Following the disbandment of the Beatles, John Lennon continued his music career with several albums. Obviously, the apple of his eye was Yoko Ono, and he collaborated with her on these releases.
One day, he read Ono’s poetry from her book Grapefruit when something clicked in his head. He wasn’t thinking about the nutritional value of that delectable drink, either. Some lyrics came to his head, and he knew they had to be shared.
Imagine there’s no countries
Along with Phil Spector, Lennon started working on the song with Ono. Recording sessions took place on May 27, 1971 with musicians Klaus Voormann, Alan White, and the Flux Fiddlers.
After three takes, it was time to choose the best one. One take would launch the song into massive success. The other two could land the song as unforgettable as “The Shape of Things to Come” from The Headboys. Fortunately, they decided to use the second one for release.
You may say I’m a dreamer
Upon the song’s release, it landed at number three on the Billboard Top 100 chart. Critics around the world praised its song structure and engaging political content. One familiar person, however, misunderstood the song altogether. In an interview with Melody Maker, Paul McCartney upset Ono by stating “Imagine” wasn’t a political song.
Since Twitter didn’t exist back then, Ono responded with a letter to McCartney two weeks later. “So you think ‘Imagine’ ain’t political? It’s ‘Working Class Hero’ with sugar on it for conservatives like yourself!!” he stated. Regardless of McCartney’s opinion, the song became one of the most iconic songs ever released. To this day, it gets covered by artists of varying musical genres, proving that a great song knows no boundaries.