IN AN ATTEMPT to reach more potential readers for my blogs, I have taken to answering questions posed on Quora. While the questions posed run the gamut of the rationality spectrum, most of the answers provided by readers are intelligent and articulate. It’s a good site that claims to have more than 190,000,000 monthly unique visitors!
So the question was, “Is there any Beatles song that has influenced the world as much as John Lennon’s song Imagine has done?” This is my answer, which is the text between the two picture sleeves (although I added the years of release for this article):
Love Me Do
Please Please Me
From Me To You
She Loves You
I Want To Hold Your Hand
Can’t Buy Me Love
A Hard Day’s Night
I Feel Fine
Eight Days A Week
Ticket To Ride
We Can Work It Out
Strawberry Fields Forever
All You Need Is Love
The Ballad Of John And Yoko
Let It Be
The Long And Winding Road
Somebody else can do the album tracks …
I can’t imagine that
I can’t image that there is a reasonable manner in which the “influence” of any given song by any artist can be objectively gauged or measured, ergo a definitive argument between the impact of Imagine versus a song like All You Need Is Love can’t really be made.
But anyone who lived through the ’60s—perhaps here it would be better to say “The Sixties”—knows the almost planet-wide impact that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr had on Western culture. (Music, art, hair, clothing, attitude, more.)
It was arguably greater than that of many famous and notoriously “great” military leaders and politicians, let alone any artist or entertainer. 1
John Lennon’s Imagine actually wasn’t that big of a hit when originally released in 1971: while it topped the charts in the US and Canada, it was “only” a Top 10 hit in most other markets. 2
It has become an anthem of sorts since then, turning up in the unlikeliest of places. So its influence in the past twenty years may be greater than its influence was in its first twenty years.
We shall probably never know. 3
FEATURED IMAGE: The bloody marvelous caricature of Beatlejohn at the top of this page is the product of an artist who goes by the handle of Arcouette. Record collectors please note that the American, Capitol-manufactured picture sleeves for both I Want To Hold Your Hand (1963) and The Long And Winding Road (1970) pictured above are very difficult to find in near mint (NM) condition. So be wary of sellers offering NM copies at premium prices (and reproductions also exist).
1 Except Elvis. Of course. But that’s another story.
2 Oddly, Imagine wasn’t issued as a single in the UK in 1971.
3 Unless the Tralfamadorians have been keeping track of this stuff all along and decide to share with us some day. But I’m not holding my breath on that one …