Imagine: a Utopian Analysis

3 March 2017

John Lennon’s Imagine, released in 1971, is one of the most famous utopias ever composed. In his song, Lennon dreams of a world in which there is no religion, no countries, world peace, no possessions and no discrimination; his utopia is a world based on equality. This song was heavily influenced by all the ongoing events that were occurring at the time of its composition. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were calling for world peace and for America to cease its involvement in the Vietnam War, in which it was killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

This song that Lennon wrote is reflective of the need of many people in the ‘70s for there to be world peace and no discrimination. Lennon’s utopia features real people. In his song he speaks of hopefully changing the views and opinions of the world population, and instead of having all people worrying about what may happen tomorrow or sometime in the future, he wants them to start implementing change now.

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Imagine all the people/living for today…” The repetition of this line in the song reinforces Lennon’s “dream” for a better world and it drills into the listener that this is what Lennon wants; a world in which people are trying to make a difference now, rather than at some unforeseeable time in the future. A common idea related to the utopian ideal of nature is that the removal of possessions could potentially lead to the end of the greed and ambition. This is what Lennon proposes in his utopia; “Imagine no possessions,/I wonder if you can,/No need for greed or hunger”. This line in the song is actually quite contentious, too.

Many believe that what Lennon proposes – “Imagine no possessions” – is actually quite an easy thing for him to state because through the exuberant amount of money that he made as being a member of the Beatles, he could easily have any possession that he wanted and he would never have to endure the agony of hunger or the need for fresh water. However, others believe that this statement made by Lennon would be quite difficult for him to make and would involve self-sacrifice as he would lose all the wealth that he had gathered if his utopia was to become real. The third verse of Imagine focuses on the utopian ideal of equality.

This is one of the key elements of Lennon’s utopia. He believes that through the abolishment of war, countries and discrimination in his utopia, that equality could be achieved. Through his simple wish of a world in which there could be “A brotherhood of man,/Imagine all the people/Sharing all the world”, one can’t help but sympathise with his dream. To share the world equally and for no race, creed or religion to affect the opinions of people about others would be a perfect world. Lennon’s world is just filled with “people”, not blacks, not Christians, not homosexuals, not Jews or whites, not Italians, not Buddhists; just people. And the world will live as one. ” In his song Lennon also introduces a different utopian ideal to what is featured in most utopias, and this ideal is that of world peace. Through Lennon’s utopia removing countries and patriotism as well as religion, he believes that in his utopia there would be no wars because there would be nothing for the people to fight for. “Imagine there’s no countries,/It isn’t hard to do,/Nothing to kill or die for,/No religion too,/Imagine all the people/living life in peace…” John Lennon delivers his utopia to the listener through monotonous vocals that at time sound as if they are just droning on.

However, this monotonous droning doesn’t bore the listener but instead gives the impression of someone having a dream. This, obviously, supports the purpose of the song which is to illustrate to the listener the utopia that Lennon has dreamt of. The vocals and simplistic language used also makes it easier for the listener to relate and sympathise with what Lennon’s utopia. The melody is quite personable, too. The repetition of different lines and phrases, such as “Imagine” emphasises the fact that this song is an illustration of what Lennon wishes the world to be like.

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