Can you imagine true peace throughout the world? A world where people were completely free to live their lives in peace and harmony, without the fear of being shot, blown up, or sent to hell because they do not worship a deity? It would not be an exaggeration to say that John Lennon was a visionary, a musical genius or one of the greatest minds of the last century. From 1962 until 1970, “Beatlemania” went viral from the UK to the US until the band finally split. Lennon was quoted as saying “As a Beatle, we made it, and there was nothing to do. We had money, we had fame, and there was no joy” (Marskell). Shortly thereafter, he wrote Imagine—a song that would redefine a generation, and perhaps even the future.
Imagine was the most successful single of Lennon’s career and is acclaimed as one of the greatest songs in the history of music. It is short, simple and to the point, yet has deeper meaning just beneath the surface if you read between the lines. The song starts out requesting listeners imagine that there is no Heaven above or Hell below us. Some believe that this song, with this line specifically, is blasphemous against God and religion. However, therein lies the problem. Throughout history, a great number of wars have been waged in the name of religion. Lennon is simply asking us to open our minds and imagine what life would be like if we did not kill one another over who’s God has the bigger dick. He then goes on to speak about imagining there are no countries. Yet another thing man goes to war over. Patriotism. We will kill any country that says the US is not the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. Imagine if there were no countries, though. Nothing to kill or die for, just living life in peace.
“You may say I’m a dreamer,” and you would probably be right. While Lennon could imagine such great things for this world, having peace throughout seems almost impossible. The world is like an imperfectly designed wheel with spokes. World peace would require every single person alive to contribute to it, and if one spoke on this imperfectly designed wheel is broken, the whole wheel collapses. The idea is absolute beauty, but there is so much hate in the world at this point in time, that it feels like nothing more than a pipe dream. Although, Lennon thought we could change everybody through the power of love. What if we gave peace a chance? Could changing hearts really change the world? Lennon was definitely not the only one that believed in this theory, and he had hoped that many more would join this movement as time went on, but unfortunately, his time ended too soon. before his vision could be recognized, but what we’re left with is a roadmap that shows us how to accomplish his vision and guides us into his proclaimed ‘utopia’.
John Lennon truly was a visionary. He states, “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can.” Imagine going a day without checking your Facebook on your smart phone, or opening your laptop to check your email, or turning on the TV to watch the latest episode of your favorite show. I do not think you can do it. We are so engrossed in our everyday lives and the possessions that have been created to distract us from one another. He invites us to rid ourselves of all of these distractions, and enjoy our lives with our fellow man, and sharing what we have with those around us that perhaps do not have as much. He wanted to end world hunger. After all, how can we have true peace knowing that there are people out there starving to death while the 1% sit at the top of the world on top of all of their money dropping not a crumb for the less fortunate to pick up? Again, one break in the spoke, and everything crumbles away.
On December 8th, 1980, John Lennon had a bunch of media and press scheduled. A photo shoot for Rolling Stone and a radio interview to be broadcast on the RKO Radio network with DJ Dave Sholin were just the beginning of his day. From there, Lennon returned to his apartment, and at 5:40 PM, his tardy limousine arrived. A man named Mark David Chapman approached Lennon along with a multitude of other fans for an autograph. After signing the CD Chapman had provided, Lennon asked him “Is this all you want”, and Chapman returned and a smile and a nod of agreement. John went on to do more press for the day, and finally, he returned to him apartment at 10:50 PM. Lennon exited his limousine and walked right by Chapman who was lying in wait. Lennon glanced over in recognition at Chapman as he walked by. Seconds later, Chapman opened fire placing 5 hollow point bullets into the back of Lennon. The doorman wrestled the gun away from Chapman. He then removed his own hat and coat in preparation for the arrival of the police to show that he wasn’t carrying any concealed weapons. The doorman yelled at Chapman asking, “Do you know what you’ve just done?!”, to which Chapman replied, “Yes, I just shot John Lennon.” And with that, it would have seemed, all hopes for peace in life were snuffed out. John Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital at 11:15 PM on December 8th, 1980.
The song and this essay conclude with a line from the chorus that places the dot under the exclamation point; “And the world will live as one”. It is almost as if Lennon created this song as a guide, unbeknownst to us, as a guide that was to be used after he was gone to continue his work and help us obtain world peace. Once again, a roadmap showing how to get there and stay there. This song is a huge part of John Lennon’s legacy. It is what he worked for in the later years of his career. John believed that we could replace hate and war with love and peace, but since he has been gone, hate and war have run amok. We have lost sight of love and peace, and replaced it with cell phones and yoga. What if, however, the entire world was to follow this model as a blueprint, and truly make an attempt at world peace? What if we gave up our possessions, hammered world hunger, stopped killing one another over who’s God is the true God, if we stopped drawing lines between our countries and lived harmoniously as brothers and sisters? Was this the forethought outcome Lennon saw through his vision in ‘Imagine’?
Lennon, John W. “’Imagine’ Lyrics.” AZ Lyrics, www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/johnlennon/imagine.html.
Marskell, Lucy (happypoetica). “As a Beatle we made it and there was nothing to do. We had money, we had fame and there was no joy #JohnLennon” 29 Jul 2017, 7:27 AM. Tweet.