"Imagine" is a song by John Lennon which is a strong political message that is sugarcoated in a beautiful melody. Lennon realized that the softer approach would bring the song to a wider audience, who hopefully would listen to his message.
Lennon later felt that this song should have been a Lennon/Ono collaboration. He got the idea from Yoko's book Grapefruit, which is a book of instructions, with things like "Imagine the sky crying..." or "Imagine you're a cloud."
Some people have wondered if Lennon included a message in the video for this song as well. In the video, Lennon is dressed as a cowboy and Yoko Ono is dressed as an Indian squaw. This could be a kind of message about all cultures getting along. (thanks, Adam - Dewsbury, England, for above 2)
This song plays a role in the movie Forrest Gump. Gump (played by Tom Hanks) appears on a talk show with Lennon, talking about a place where there are "no possessions" and "no religion." It's implied that Gump gave Lennon the idea for this song.
A sidewalk mosaic spells out the word "Imagine" in a section of Central Park dedicated to Lennon. The area is called "Strawberry Fields," and is located across from Lennon's apartment where he was shot.
This was not released as a single in the UK until 1975, when it hit #6. Shortly after Lennon's death in 1980, it was re-released in the UK and hit #1. It was replaced at #1 by Lennon's "Woman," marking the first time an artist replaced himself on top of the UK charts since The Beatles followed "She Loves You" with "I Want To Hold Your Hand."
On September 21, 2001, Neil Young performed this on a benefit telethon for the victims of the terrorist attacks on America. Almost 60 million people watched the special in the US.
Oasis used the piano intro on their 1996 song "Don't Look Back In Anger."
This has been covered by many bands, including Our Lady Peace, and a vastly toned down version by A Perfect Circle. Jack Johnson recorded it for the 2007 compilation Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur. (thanks, Jeffrey - Victoria, Canada)
This was the last song played on WABC before they switched from a top-40 format to talk radio. Based in New York City, WABC was for decades the top AM radio station in the country. They debated long and hard to decide which song should be their farewell. (thanks, Rob - Minneapolis, MN)
Some speculate that this song contains backwards messages. With a keen ear and large imagination, you can barely make out the words "people war beside me" when reversing the line "Imagine all the people." (thanks, Spencer - Los Angeles, CA)
On September 13, 1980 Elton John did a free concert in Central Park, New York and ended it with this song. This performance was three months before Lennon's untimely death and before playing the song Elton said, "This is for a dear friend of mine who doesn't live too far from here, so lets sing it loud enough for him to hear it" - Lennon lived only a few blocks from that part of Central Park. The flamboyant Elton performed the song wearing a Donald Duck outfit. (thanks, Chris - Philly, PA)
Lennon said this song is "virtually the Communist Manifesto." That's usually the last we see of the quote, but Lennon added: "even though I am not particularly a communist and I do not belong to any movement." (thanks, adam - mechanicsburg, PA)
This song returned to the Hot 100 three times in the late 2000s, thanks to cover versions by Jack Johnson (#90, 2007), David Archuleta (#36, 2008) and The Glee Cast (#67, 2009).
The Jazz musician Herbie Hancock recorded this as the centerpiece to his Imagine Project. His version features Jeff Beck, P!nk, Seal, India.Arie, Konono N°1 and Oumou Sangaré.