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"Imagine" - John Lennon

--"Imagine" became the best-selling single of Lennon's solo career.

 

--Rolling Stone described "Imagine" as Lennon's "greatest musical gift to the world", praising "the serene melody; the pillowy chord progression; and that beckoning, four-note piano figure."

 

--Lets talk about what makes the song “serene and pillowy”… For one, there’s no lead instrument in the song’s arrangement! So the only instrumental hooks we have--or we can argue that we have--are ghosting around in the top of the piano part, and the vocal itself.

 

--Like for instance there’s a ‘maj7’, politely knocking over and over in the vocal, and also in a chorus hook.

 

--And, in “that beckoning, four-note piano figure” there’s an ‘add9’--at the end of the riff that s skips the 8th note of the scale, for a kinda—pillowy lift.

 

--Also, that ‘maj7’ note can be argued to give the music its “sereneness” if we think of it as a raised/sharped ‘Lydian’ 4th, when the F chord is played. Some people might not call it that, but the way I hear it, it lingers a millisecond--mostly due to the reverb—and that’s where you get that Lydian yumminess.

 

--The slashies (or inversions), mostly in the “Pre-chorus,” are caused by the descending bassline F-E-D-C-G. The bassline makes the Am chord into a ‘second inversion’ with bassnote E. Next, it makes a ‘third inversion’ of what becomes a Dm7 chord (with the added 7, ‘C’), in the bass.

 

--You can even consider the ding-dongin' F chords in the Verse to be ‘second inversions’, if you’re only listening to the right hand, were he makes the ‘C’ he’s playing into a pedal tone.

 

--Nothing special about the Dominant V7(G7) chord, but the III chord is probably the specialest chord of all the song, since it’s the only non diatonic. Some would call it a Secondary Dominant; some would not.

 

--CHORUS VARIANT UNO: So, the lyrics in the first chorus are “be as one” then the second chorus is “live as one.” Let the conspiracy theories begin!

 

--CHORUS VARIANT DOS: the first chorus has this transitional ‘V’ riff, and Chorus 2 just stays on the One Chord for a slight ritard.

 

OK, so Whose Charts are we talking about here?

-When it came out in ‘71:

--#1 on UK chart.

--#3 on the (US) Billboard Hot 100 (Partly Censored)

--#1 in Canada on the RPM national singles chart,

-All the rest are later UK charts.

--#6 1975 (compilation ‘Shaved Fish’ single)

--#1 1981 (right after Lennon’s death)

--#45 1988 (?)

--#3 1999 (Millennium?)

--#33 2003 (B-side to a re-release of "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

 

--@:14 Spector turns on a mic inside the piano--left speaker--Now you got two slightly different piano sounds! Sneaky cool.

 

--@:37 Drums in!

 

--@:52 Strings!

 

--At 76bpm, you can’t really dance to it--it’s more of a slow, meditative walk, with these short pauses that almost force philosophical thought.

 

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