On September 9, half a century ago, the artist released his second album – which bears the same title as the famous song – with ten pieces that represent, to some extent, a love letter to his wife Yoko Ono.
Away from The Beatles, he sought creative refuge in his partner, whom he had married that same year in Gibraltar. His first move without the Liverpool boys was John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band (1970), an experimental catharsis with heartbreaking lyrics caused by the primal therapy he underwent alongside Yoko.
A portion of Imagine was recorded in Lennon’s personal studio at his Tittenhurst Park mansion, London, while the strings were added at New York’s Record Plant. As in his previous album, Phil Spector would be in the role of co-producer. Those sessions were videotaped that later became known in a documentary titled Gimme Some Truth: The Making of John Lennon’s Imagine.
“Perhaps he is his most important solo work. The debut was raw, where he was freed from demons. In Imagine he returned to the more Beatle formula, with songs that go through ballads, rock and some have a more political message. He had a lot of arrival in the people and was number one ”, highlighted Fernando Blanco, member of Nube 9 and author of several books about the Beatles a La Viola.
Regarding the recording process, the musician said that Lennon had as guests important colleagues such as his former partner George Harrison; Alan White, on drums; Tom Evans, on guitars; Klaus Voormann, on bass; Nicky Hopkins, on piano; and the renowned saxophonist King Curtis, among others. “At that stage, John was in the middle between his life in England and the beginning of his time in New York. He was taking on some political questions, he left the path of peace a little to enter a more intense and radical militancy ”.
His love for Yoko and his rivalry with Paul McCartney
The track that opens the album would go down in history. “Imagine” was inspired by several poems from Grapefruit, a book Yoko published. This was recognized by Lennon himself in an interview 48 hours before he died.
“I know she (Ono) helped a lot with the lyrics, but I wasn’t man enough to give her credit. That song was actually written by John and Yoko, ”said the remembered artist. It is their best-selling single, a prayer for peace that had many versions of different artists such as Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Ray Charles, Madonna, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Diana Ross, Herbie Hancock and Joan Baez, among others.
The former member of The Beatles opened his heart to that Japanese woman he had met in November 1966, hours before the opening of the exhibition “Unfinished Paitings & Objects” that the artist presented at the Indica gallery in London. She was 33 and he was 26, just less than a month old.
“When you are really in love with someone you get jealous and you want to be their owner, to own them one hundred percent, which is my case. But intellectually, before that, you think taking over a person is stupid, ”Lennon described. Another song where the artist is present is “Oh, Yoko!”. The artist expressed in a fragment: “In the middle of a cloud I pronounce your name. Oh, Yoko, my love will turn you on ”.
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“Imagine” turns 50: jealousy, love and desire for a better world by John Lennon