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The Time John Lennon Admitted Yoko Ono Was The Mastermind Behind 'Imagine'

John Lennon's most iconic song, 'Imagine,' was actually Yoko Ono's idea as he once declared. He also admitted it had been sexist to let her out of the credits.

After a very successful career as a member of The Beatles, John Lennon began an equally flourishing career in solitary in which he consolidated himself as a true music legend. Not only did Lennon feel creatively more liberated going solo, but he also managed to explore aspects of his own life and beliefs through music like he hadn’t done before.

Among his most famous hits in solitary, 'Imagine' is without a doubt one of his most iconic songs and one that became an immediate anthem for peace, unity, and hopes of a better world. Now, it's been argued that Lennon's real genius was better exploited when working with someone else, as his many collaborations with Paul McCartney prove. Recently, this has become more and more evident as it’s been discovered that his second wife, Yoko Ono, was an active participant in many of his iconic songs, including 'Imagine.'

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Imagine John and Yoko, a book published in 2018, takes everything from an original scrapbook from 1971 where it was registered every single bit of the creation process of Lennon’s Imagine album. Besides never-seen images from Lennon’s life in those days, the book reveals the creative origins of the iconic 'Imagine' song. 

It turns out that Yoko was the mastermind behind many elements of the song and album, including the simple and yet powerful name. The word ‘imagine’ was central to her artworks from the sixties and even key on one of her most successful expositions, and where he met John Lennon in 1966. Besides that, the core idea of the song comes from her 1964 book Grapefruit, as Lennon later explained: “it was right out of Grapefruit, her book. There's a whole pile of pieces about 'Imagine this' and 'Imagine that.'” Now, Yoko’s participation wasn’t a secret that the book just revealed. 

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Actually, Lennon once stated in an interview in 1980 that Yoko should be credited for her contribution to the album including giving it the now legendary name. 

“Actually, that should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because a lot of the lyric and the concept came from Yoko. But those days I was a bit more selfish, bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution.” 

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One year before the release of Imagine John Yoko, the song’s credit was changed to Lennon-Ono by the National Music Publishers Association of the United States. However, for Yoko, there was never a need to be credited for the songs. According to her, back in the day, they talked about the credits and thought it would be more powerful if it was credited only under Lennon’s name, especially after the activism he was doing at the time.

Still, Lennon shamefully admitted his decision had been sexist and double-standard. Had Yoko been a man, he would’ve put her name without even questioning, as he did with his famous collaboration with David Bowie: “see if you had been male. You know, when we wrote 'Fame' together. But when we did it, I just put Lennon because, you know, she's just the wife. And you don't put her name on, right?”

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Forty-eight years after the release of a song that’s often played as an anthem for peace in the world, Yoko finally received the recognition she always deserved for such a culturally iconic piece of art.

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