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Yoko Ono Given a Songwriting Credit for ‘Imagine’

“Proudest day of my life," Sean Lennon posted.

By Annie Reuter

Nearly 50 years after the release of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” the publishers of the song are giving credit where credit is due, and naming Yoko Ono as a co-writer of the song.

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During the National Music Publishers Association’s Centennial annual meeting in New York on Wednesday (June 14), “Imagine” was honored with the Centennial Song Award.

Lennon’s Imagine album was released in 1971. The title track was the best-selling single of his solo career. At Wednesday’s gathering, an old BBC interview with Lennon was played which showed the singer admitting that his wife was the co-writer on the song.

“Actually that should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because a lot of it — the lyric and the concept — came from Yoko,” Lennon said. “But those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution. But it was right out of ‘Grapefruit,’ her book. There’s a whole pile of pieces about ‘Imagine this’ and ‘Imagine that.'”

Both Ono and son Sean Ono Lennon were in attendance to honor the song and receive the award, never expecting that Yoko would receive a co-credit.

“When they officially acknowledged — through my father’s account — that my mother co-wrote ‘Imagine,’ the ‘Song of the Century,’ it may have been the happiest day of mine and mother’s life,” Lennon told Billboard.

He later shared his excitement in a heartfelt note posted to Instagram beside a photo of himself and his mother in a wheelchair with Patti Smith and daughter Jesse.

“Proudest day of my life: The National Music Publishers Association just gave the Centennial (Song of The Century) Award to ‘Imagine,'” he wrote. “But WAIT! Surprise! They played an audio interview of my father saying (approximately) ‘Imagine’ should have been credited as a Lennon/Ono song. If it had been anyone other than my wife I would have given them credit.’ Cut to my mother welling up in tears, and then Patti and Jesse Smith played ‘Imagine’! Patience is a virtue (PS Then they officially declared ‘Imagine’ to be a Lennon/Ono song!).”

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