John Lennon’s “Imagine” Lyrics Meaning

As the title implies, “Imagine” is a song where John Lennon challenges listeners to do some creative thinking. He paints a general yet vivid picture of what exactly he wants them to visualize. The song centers around a fictitious world where many of the barriers that define social reality are nonexistent. For instance, Lennon sees a society where people are not compartmentalized based on their religion. Also, material wealth is virtually a non factor in this realm.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for John Lennon's Imagine at

Perhaps the even-greater meaning of “Imagine” is a call issued by Lennon that we as human beings should put aside all differences and unify. As such it is well-liked by proponents of globalism. It is also embraced by those who perceive unity as the path to peace.


Imagine begins with Lennon entreating the audience to do away with one of the most-basic religious concepts many of us have grown up with – that of heaven and hell. Then the track guides us down the path of imaging a world with no national boundaries. 

He associates “countries” with the idea of having something “to kill or die for”, which was likely a direct reference to the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War was ongoing at the time “Imagine” was written and released. Lennon himself was a very-strong and outspoken opponent to this conflict. In fact the song has become a synonymous piece of memorabilia associated with the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 70s.

Lennon then specifically states that the world he is singing about has “no religion”. In addition to nation-states, he has also identified such belief systems as causes of derision. Thus he concludes that without these factors people would have a better opportunity to ‘live in peace’.


In the chorus, Lennon acknowledges that the place he is describing is fantastic, as it doesn’t exist in the real world. However, he is not the only person envisioning such a state of existence. In fact he hopes the listeners themselves would embrace these ideas. Through doing so,he thinks the world stands a better chance of achieving unity and peace.


In the second verse, Lennon adds material possessions to his list of common aspects of human existence that he feels are negatively interfering with global harmony. In contrast to reality, he envisions a world where there is “no greed or hunger”. Under this ideology, he instead sees a humankind where we are all ‘brothers’, and people share instead of hoard.

“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky”

Did Lennon write “Imagine”?

Although Lennon took all of the songwriting credits initially, his wife, Yoko Ono, assisted him in scripting it. She was finally officially acknowledged for such in 2017.

This track was recorded in 1971, partially in England and partially in New York City.

“Imagine” was partially inspired by a prayer book Lennon and Ono had received from comedian Dick Gregory. But it was even more-heavily influenced by a book of poems Ono had composed a few years earlier.  And according to the fictitious movie Forrest Gump, Gump himself made a direct contribution to its composition.

“Imagine” served as Lennon’s tool whereas he was able to masterfully present his personal political views, which borderline on communism, in a way that was commercially appealing to the masses.


The song “Imagine” – and the album by the same name which it came from – where the most-successful ventures of Lennon’s solo career.

This classic charted at number one in the United Kingdom and reached number three on the US-based Billboard Hot 100. It re-charted in the UK, again at number one, after Lennon’s death in 1981.

It has been inducted into both the Grammy and Rock & Roll Halls of Fame.

The playing of “Imagine” has become an integral part of the world-renowned New Year’s celebration held in Times Square, New York City annually.

A documentary was released by Lennon and Ono to accompany this track in 1972.

This is one of the most critically-acclaimed songs of all time and accordingly has been covered by a number of A-list musicians.

The piano John Lennon used in writing “Imagine” was purchased in excess of two-million dollars in 2000 by the late musician George Michael. The piano has since been used as a museum artifact and to promote peace.

“Imagine” was the defining work of Lennon’s career, as made evident by a section of New York City’s Central Park dedicated to him being inscribed with this word.

Bebe Rexha performs “Imagine” in NYC

American singer Bebe Rexha performed “Imagine” at the legendary Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration in New York City to usher in 2019. In doing so, Times Square continued its longtime tradition of performing “Imagine” shortly before the arrival of New Year’s Day.

Imagine There’s No Religion

According to the Lennon, the world could live as one if religion didn’t exist. But would the world really be better off without religion?

There are currently more than four thousand religions in the world. Religion is generally based on faith or belief systems that lead to a lifestyle that is acceptable to the people involved. People who belong to a religion often meet privately or in public as social groups to practice the religion.

The activities that take place during such gatherings can include sermons, festivals, music, art, funerals, weddings, rituals, sacrifices, and any other aspect of human culture.

Most religions have different statements about belief in a supreme being and the following:

  • supernatural forces on earth
  • human nature
  • the meaning of life
  • ideas about life after death when we die.

There is no doubt that religion influences the development of people, societies, and nations.

Religion is Good

The world has seen positive changes in people’s behavior due to the beliefs of some religions. The message of many world religions is peace. They encourage people to always choose a peaceful way to solve their problems instead of using violence. Many country leaders believe in this message and have passed laws that include punishing those who use violent means to solve their problems without any significant reason. This has helped increase the security of the world.

Religion has helped improve the well-being of many people. In terms of health, education, and literacy, religion has played a positive role in improving them for many people.

Religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism are strong advocates of a healthy lifestyle and education for all. They have built many hospitals, schools, and libraries for many communities. They also have religious books that followers need to read to grow their faith and understand the religion for practice. This ensures that they prioritize the education and literacy of their followers.

Rachel Platten performs “Imagine” at Times Square New Year’s Eve in 2016.

Religion is Bad

However, it can be said that religion is also the cause of the lack of development and loss of lives in many parts of the world. Some religions teach that education and health care can only be achieved by practicing the faith of the religion. Members of these religions do not seek proper medical care when they are ill and can sometimes lose their lives.

Some religions also do not promote peace and tolerance. There have been many cases where members of some religions have even formed rebel groups that force other people to join their religion in a violent way. These rebel groups sometimes invade congregations of other religions and kill members of that religion. They see other religions as enemies.

The following are examples of religious conflict that has resulted in the loss of many lives around the world:

  • Palestinian-Israeli conflict
  • Syrian civil war
  • The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

Was John Lennon right about Religion being an obstacle to peace on Earth?

Non-religious people believe that religion and their beliefs are an obstacle to peace and other positive things that can be achieved in this world. They encourage the whole of society to act with logic, which is accepted by the laws of the society and not based on religious beliefs. They believe the world would be better off without religion.

But religion has indeed played an important role in the development and civilization of the world. However, like everything that is practiced in society, it has its pros and cons.

5 Responses

  1. numb nuts says:

    use your imagination to know meaning. if you have one.

  2. Misty says:

    This has always been one of my favorite songs. My Aunt (RIP) Pennie taught me the words to this song when I was about 4 years old in 1976. It is such a beautiful poem Ono wrote and Lennon sang. I wish we could have world peace.

  3. faye grimm says:

    “You Will Own Nothing and Be Happy,” Klaus Schwab … imagine that!

  4. Anonymous says:

    If you can imagine, let us strongly push towards it.

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