Album facts: Imagine

John Lennon released Imagine in the US on September 9th 1971 and October 8th in the UK. This was his second solo album, not including the experimental releases with Yoko Ono in the '60s.

"The album Imagine was after Plastic Ono. I call it Plastic Ono with chocolate coating." - John Lennon

For Imagine, John enlisted Phil Spector to produce alongside himself and Yoko; Spector had produced The Beatles' Let It Be album the previous year. Imagine was recorded between February and July at various locations; including John's mansion at Tittenhurst Park (which began on June 23rd) and Abbey Road Studios, London. 

One week before the album's recording, John asked George Harrison if he'd like to play on ImagineGeorge agreed and appears on several of Imagine's songs including: Gimme Some Truth, How Do You Sleep? and Crippled Inside.

Imagine is considered by many to be one of Lennon's finest albums, featuring some of his most beloved songs, like: Jealous Guy, Oh Yoko, Crippled Inside and of course, Imagine itself.

Imagine album cover, 1971.

Imagine album cover, 1971.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono at Tittenhurst Park, 1971.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono at Tittenhurst Park, 1971.

John Lennon at Tittenhurst Park, 1971.

John Lennon at Tittenhurst Park, 1971.

Personnel

  • John Lennon – vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, piano; whistling on "Jealous Guy"; harmonica on "Oh Yoko"
  • George Harrison – electric and slide guitar on "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier", "Gimme Some Truth," "Oh My Love," and "How Do You Sleep?";dobro on "Crippled Inside"
  • Nicky Hopkins – piano; electric piano on "Jealous Guy", "Oh My Love" and "How Do You Sleep?"; tack piano on "Crippled Inside"
  • Klaus Voormann – bass; upright bass on "Crippled Inside"
  • Alan White – drums on "Imagine", "Gimme Some Truth", "Oh My Love", "How Do You Sleep?", "How?", and "Oh Yoko!"; Tibetan cymbals on "Oh My Love"; vibraphone on "Jealous Guy"
  • Jim Keltner – drums on "Crippled Inside," "Jealous Guy," and "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier"
  • Jim Gordon – drums on "It's So Hard"
  • King Curtis – saxophone on "It's So Hard" and "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier"
  • John Barham – harmonium on "Jealous Guy"; vibraphone on "How?"
  • Joey Molland and Tom Evans – acoustic guitars on "Jealous Guy" (incorrectly credited as "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier")
  • John Tout - piano on "Crippled Inside" (incorrectly credited as playing "acoustic guitar")
  • Ted Turner – acoustic guitars on "Crippled Inside"
  • Rod Linton – acoustic guitar on "Crippled Inside", "Gimme Some Truth" and "Oh Yoko!"
  • Andy Davis – acoustic guitar on "Gimme Some Truth", "How?" and "Oh Yoko!"
  • Mike Pinder – tambourine on "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier"
  • Steve Brendell – upright bass on "Crippled Inside"; maracas on "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier"
  • Phil Spector – harmony vocal on "Oh Yoko!"
  • The Flux Fiddlers (members of the New York Philharmonic) – orchestral strings

Track listing

Side one

  1. "Imagine" – 3:01
  2. "Crippled Inside" – 3:47
  3. "Jealous Guy" – 4:14
  4. "It's So Hard" – 2:25
  5. "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier, Mama, I Don't Want to Die" – 6:05

Side two

  1. "Gimme Some Truth" – 3:16
  2. "Oh My Love" – 2:50
  3. "How Do You Sleep?" – 5:36
  4. "How?" – 3:43
  5. "Oh Yoko!" – 4:20

Buy Imagine on Amazon (US or UK)

Promotion

On September 11th 1971, John Lennon and Yoko Ono appeared on the Dick Cavett Show to promote Imagine.

Mocking McCartney

Early pressings of the LP featured Lennon holding a pig, mocking Paul McCartney's cover for his 1971 album Ram in which he holds a sheep in a similar pose. Lennon also blasted McCartney in the song How Do You Sleep?.

"I heard Paul's messages in Ram - yes there are dear reader! Too many people going where? Missed our lucky what? What was our first mistake? Can't be wrong? Huh! I mean Yoko, me, and other friends can't all be hearing things. So to have some fun, I must thank Allen Klein publicly for the line 'just another day'. A real poet! Some people don't see the funny side of it. Too bad. What am I supposed to do, make you laugh? It's what you might call an 'angry letter', sung - get it?" - John Lennon
"Well, it was like Dylan doing Like A Rolling Stone, one of his nasty songs. It's using somebody as an object to create something. I wasn't really feeling that vicious at the time, but I was using my resentment towards Paul to create a song. Let's put it that way.
It was just a mood. Paul took it the way he did because it obviously, pointedly refers to him, and people just hounded him about it, asking, 'How do ya feel about it?' But there were a few little digs on his albums, which he kept but I heard them. So I just thought, Well, hang up being obscure! I'll just get right down to the nitty-gritty." - John Lennon
Paul McCartney on his 1971 album Ram, and Lennon with a pig on the Imagine insert.

Paul McCartney on his 1971 album Ram, and Lennon with a pig on the Imagine insert.

John Lennon and George Harrison recording Imagine, 1971.

John Lennon and George Harrison recording Imagine, 1971.

Phil Scector and George Harrison working on Imagine at Tittenhurst Park, 1971.

Phil Scector and George Harrison working on Imagine at Tittenhurst Park, 1971.

John Lennon and George Harrison working on Imagine at Tittenhurst Park, 1971.

John Lennon and George Harrison working on Imagine at Tittenhurst Park, 1971.

John Lennon and George Harrison working on Imagine at Tittenhurst Park, 1971.

John Lennon and George Harrison working on Imagine at Tittenhurst Park, 1971.

John Lennon and George Harrison working on Imagine at Tittenhurst Park, 1971.

John Lennon and George Harrison working on Imagine at Tittenhurst Park, 1971.

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