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