Powerful Meaning Behind “Imagine” by John Lennon (Song Meaning & Lyrics Analysis)

It would not be an over exaggeration to call John Lennon a visionary and a pure genius of musical prowess. The musical revolution John Lennon was able to create in the 70’s in unparalleled. In this same era, he created another gem of a piece of music, which is loved and adored and honored to-date. The track is titled “Imagine” and it is more relevant to today than it was for 30 years ago. In that sense, John Lennon was a visionary beyond his times.

“Imagine” was the most successful single off of John Lennon’s career. The song is acclaimed as one of the greatest songs of the history of music. And it’s also one of the most commercially successful records of the past. “Imagine” was released in October 1971 on Vinyl, that included “It’s So Hard” and “Working Class Hero” on the back side of it.

Cover art for "Imagine" by John Lennon

Cover art for “Imagine” by John Lennon

Watch John Lennon Perform “Imagine”

Download “Imagine” Single by John Lennon on iTunes / Amazon

It’s such a simple song, yet it has a powerful and deep meaning underneath those simple lyric lines. It is so worth to take a closer look at the lyrics of the song. If you are interested, keep reading.

Song Meaning of “Imagine” by John Lennon

The song is one massive flow of beautiful and thoughtful wordings. The process begins from the very first verse itself.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Beautiful and simple lyrics right? Yes, and quite deep at the same time. John Lennon asks us to imagine that there’s no heaven and hell. He says we may have to try a little-because we have been spoon-fed that above us is the heaven and below us is the hell from our very childhoods. So it may need a little effort, but you can imagine it. And who teaches us of heaven and hell? Well, the religion. I’m not hating on any religion, but the chaos we have brought upon this world in the name of ‘religion’ is beyond justifiable under any faith. It’s as if, the world would have been a better place without religions.

We go to heaven or hell ‘tomorrow’-not today. What if people focused on the present? Living in the present? How would that impact our behavior? Would we treat people differently if we knew we had to endure the consequences of our actions today? We go to heaven or hell after our death. Well, what if we had to pay off our debts in this life itself? Would we still be doing all the inhumanities that we do today?

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

John Lennon asks us to imagine that there are no countries. Why? Well, what are countries? Goggle defines a country as “a nation with its own government, occupying a particular territory.” That’s a red sign right there. How many wars have been fought in the name of patriotism, sovereignty, imperialism and territory? What if the whole world was one nation? Would people still fight for boundaries? Wealthy and powerful nations thrive on acquiring and pondering smaller and weaker nations. ‘Peace’ is the shield they use to cover their dirty hands.

We take pride in saying “we are willing to die for our country”. True, there’s nobility in that, because we are already divided into territories. But what if there were no territories? Would people still have to die for a piece of land? Probably not!

“Imagine” music video features a Red Indian woman. Red Indians were the initial occupiers of the land that we call today-United States of America. The early white settlers slaughtered and massacred the Red Indians-the whole civilization-and built the great nation of United States. Showing this Red Indian woman shedding light to the room where John Lennon plays his piano is a subtle slap to the great nation. And this Red Indian woman is John Lennon’s spouse-a Japanese-Yoko Ono!

In the second verse, John Lennon emphasizes on ‘religion’ as a thing that has created a lot of evil in the world. I kinda have to agree.

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Keep dreaming, we could say and shrug off Lennon. But this is not John Lennon speaking. This is him speaking on behalf of all of us. This is a common dream we all have. A world of peace. But world peace requires the contribution of everybody. I mean everybody. If there’s even a single spoke that is bent or broken, this wheel would collapse.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

John Lennon gets a little spiritual in the third verse. Imagine a life without possessions. What are possessions? Well, pretty much everything that we love and adore and cannot let go. Can we imagine a life without our smart phone? Probably, we can’t. And that’s why John Lennon says he wonders if we are capable of such a feat.

John Lennon invites us to let go of worldly possessions. There’s no need for greed over material things-we leave it all behind when we have to go. We have to share our things with the less fortunate. That’s how we end world hunger. Imagine a world where the USA did not dump tons and tons of crops in to the ocean without giving it to the poor, just to keep the market prices stable. Imagine, what would have happened if we shared our excess food with the less fortunate. World hunger would probably end overnight.

It’s interesting to see the change of tonality in the imaginations by Lennon.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do…

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can…

Imagining there’s no heaven? Pretty easy. Imagining there’s no countries? Not that hard. Imagining a world without greed for material things? Not so easy!

Heaven is a concept. It will be easy to let go of it. Country is part of our livelihood. It has been carved in to our bones. It won’t be easy to let go. But we can do it. We do it when we migrate. How about letting go of your computer, smart phone, comfy chair, favorite book? Not so easy. But that’s where we should be at to achieve world peace. Nothing belongs to you. Everything was made out of the nature and it shall return to the nature. It’s as simple as that.

The chorus repeats with just one change in the last sentence “And the world will live as one” and this amazing song comes to an end.

“Imagine” is loved and praised as one of the most influential songs in the history of music. The plain lyrics may hide the powerful message behind it, but it’s not difficult to see it if you have an inquiring mind.

If you have your own interpretations of the lyrics of the song, do let us know in the comments below. Let us know what you think about the song and the artist.

RIP John Lennon!

Adam McDonald

Hi! I am the founder and lead author and editor of Justrandomthings music community. A vast range of personal interests from Hip-Hop to Country to Hard Rock and Punk music will keep you entertained.

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