Imagine

Music review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Imagine Music Poster Image
Lennon's most popular album captures his complex brilliance.

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Kids say

age 8+
Based on 6 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Lennon's rebellious honesty is not for everyone ("I'm sick to death of seeing things from tight-lipped-condescending-mommies little chauvinists / All I want is the truth") but it will strike a chord with teens who are paying attention. There's also a lot of introspective self-examination about relationships, especially romantic, and learning from one's past mistakes -- and the pure joy of things going well on that front.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A number of songs --"Oh, Yoko!," "Oh My Love," "Jealous Guy" -- are addressed to Yoko Ono, John's wife and muse, and show the positive impact she's had on his character development, from silly joy to greater understanding of life's meaning.

Violence

Revisiting one of his favorite themes, "I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier Mama I Don't Want to Die" rejects the military option among various conventional careers Lennon finds lacking. In general, Lennon's language is often caustic and abrasive, but he doesn't dwell on gory detail or obsess over violence.

Sex

For a man who garnered fame for various public nudity and sex-related exploits, usually in some peace demonstration with Yoko, Lennon keeps it pretty clean. "Oh, Yoko, my love will turn you on," says one song, and "When I hold you in my arms baby / Sometimes I feel like going down," says another.

Language

Lennon can get mean and nasty when taking on his adversaries, but he doesn't stoop to profanity. He is far too skilled with words. "The only thing you done was yesterday / and since you've gone you're just another day," he sneers at Paul McCartney, nailing his former bandmate with his own songs. Who needs swear words when you can do that?

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

While it's not unreasonable to suspect that drugs were consumed in the course of making this album, given the time and place (England, 1971), there are few overt references. "Gimme Some Truth" refers to "money for dope," but not in a positive way.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that John Lennon was never shy about being in-your-face with his views and challenging his audience to think. But the most problematical thing they'll find on his 1971 album Imagine is the rebellious worldview of a man who, describing the state of pop culture a few years earlier, had stated with statistical accuracy but no tact that his band (The Beatles) was more popular than Jesus. The bucking of convention starts with the lyric "Imagine there's no heaven" and doesn't stop there, but Lennon also revels in being in love with his wife, Yoko Ono. Depending on how his views mesh with yours, there may be some interesting conversations in your future.

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User Reviews

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Kid, 11 years old August 6, 2016
Teen, 15 years old Written byMollyLappe November 6, 2015

GREAT SONG!

I LOVE THIS SONG!!!! It has a great message and it is just beautiful. I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU'RE DOING STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND LISTEN TO THIS SO... Continue reading

What's the story?

With the title song that's become so iconic as to border on a pop-culture cliche in the years since his death, Imagine is John Lennon's second album since the Beatles' breakup and finds him at the top of his creative form, working with former bandmate George Harrison and legendary sidemen King Curtis and Nicky Hopkins, as well as producer Phil Spector. He's happy in love, furious at his enemies, disgusted at the state of the world in general, and gleeful at skewering anything he sees as false or hypocritical.

Is it any good?

There was quite a bit more to John Lennon than mere rock star -- tortured soul, charismatic genius, disrespecter of convention, devoted lover, and enigma in human form. It's all on view here, with artistic excellence and the honesty of a man who had long since ceased to see the point of anything but the naked truth. Several of the songs besides the title track, including "Jealous Guy," "Crippled Inside,"  "Oh Yoko," and "Oh My Love," are classics and remain popular today.

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about John Lennon's work with The Beatles, and after. Do you have any favorites?

  • What do you know about what was happening in the world in 1971, and what political and other issues Lennon is so angry about in some of the songs here?

  • From what you hear in these songs, do you understand why Lennon was such a compelling, and also polarizing, figure in his lifetime -- and why, less than a decade later, a crazy person would assassinate him?

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