John Lennon Preferred 1 of His Other Political Songs to ‘Imagine’

“Imagine” is one of John’s most famous political tunes. It overshadowed another socially-conscious track John released during his solo career.

John Lennon played “Imagine” for a group of communists before the public heard it. Subsequently, one of the communists told John he preferred one of his other political tunes. John agreed.

A communist told John Lennon ‘Imagine’ wasn’t as good as another 1 of his songs

Tariq Ali was a communist activist who became friends with John. During a 2020 interview with Jacobin, Ali remembered introducing John to fellow communist Régis Debray. “So when we said to Debray, ‘Do you want to meet John Lennon?” Ali recalled. “He said, ‘Who is he?’ We explained, and [writer] Robin [Blackburn] said, ‘You have been in prison, Régis, but I thought that it would have penetrated down there that there is a group called The Beatles who are now more popular than Jesus.’

“So we took Régis along and John said, ‘OK, I’m going to sing it to you,’” Ali added. “So he sang ‘Imagine,’ and then he looked at me. So I said, ‘Let me think.’ I made some fake consultations with Robin and Régis, and I said, ‘Yes, John, the politburo agrees. It can go out.’”

“Imagine” wasn’t Ali’s favorite song by John. “But later, when we were alone, I said to him that I like ‘Imagine’ and that it might touch people, but it is a bit too sugary,” he said. “I prefer ‘Working Class Hero,’ which is an absolutely wonderful song. He said, ‘So do I. I prefer that, too.’ But of course, ‘Imagine’ went everywhere.”

John Lennon gave fans insight into the meaning of ‘Working Class Hero’

The book Lennon on Lennon: Conversations With John Lennon features an interview from 1971. In it, John said “Working Class Hero” was about class barriers. John felt he had helped to break down class barriers through his art.

In addition, John said the subordination of the working class made them feel good. In his opinion, subordination was a comforting feeling because it made thinking irrelevant. He felt some people liked being subservient because they desired a father figure.

Why ‘Imagine’ had so much more appeal than ‘Working Class Hero’

John Lennon’s “Imagine” garnered the approval of some communist writers.
“Imagine” is one of John’s most famous political tunes.
It overshadowed another socially-conscious track John released during his solo career.
John Lennon played “Imagine” for a group of communists before the public heard it. Subsequently, one of the communists told John he preferred one of his other political tunes. John agreed.

A communist told John Lennon ‘Imagine’ wasn’t as good as another 1 of his songs

Tariq Ali was a communist activist who became friends with John. During a 2020 interview with Jacobin, Ali remembered introducing John to fellow communist Régis Debray. “So when we said to Debray, ‘Do you want to meet John Lennon?” Ali recalled. “He said, ‘Who is he?’ We explained, and [writer] Robin [Blackburn] said, ‘You have been in prison, Régis, but I thought that it would have penetrated down there that there is a group called The Beatles who are now more popular than Jesus.’

“So we took Régis along and John said, ‘OK, I’m going to sing it to you,’” Ali added. “So he sang ‘Imagine,’ and then he looked at me. So I said, ‘Let me think.’ I made some fake consultations with Robin and Régis, and I said, ‘Yes, John, the politburo agrees. It can go out.’”

“Imagine” wasn’t Ali’s favorite song by John. “But later, when we were alone, I said to him that I like ‘Imagine’ and that it might touch people, but it is a bit too sugary,” he said. “I prefer ‘Working Class Hero,’ which is an absolutely wonderful song. He said, ‘So do I. I prefer that, too.’ But of course, ‘Imagine’ went everywhere.”

John Lennon gave fans insight into the meaning of ‘Working Class Hero’
The book Lennon on Lennon: Conversations With John Lennon features an interview from 1971. In it, John said “Working Class Hero” was about class barriers. John felt he had helped to break down class barriers through his art.

In addition, John said the subordination of the working class made them feel good. In his opinion, subordination was a comforting feeling because it made thinking irrelevant. He felt some people liked being subservient because they desired a father figure.

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Why ‘Imagine’ had so much more appeal than ‘Working Class Hero’

Ali noted that “Imagine” became a lot more popular than “Working Class Hero.” That’s not surprising at all. “Imagine” might be lyrically subversive, but sonically, it’s similar to the easy-listening music that dominated the airwaves for decades. In addition, its lyrics are hopeful and beautiful.

On the other hand, “Working Class Hero” is an old-school folk song. Folk music was big in the 1960s, but the genre wasn’t as prominent by the time John released “Working Class Hero” in 1970. Also, the lyrics of “Working Class Hero” are bitter and pessimistic. It’s far too upsetting to become a radio hit, much less an enduring standard. Also, the tune features profanity at a time when that was less acceptable.

John preferred “Working Class Hero” to “Imagine” listeners felt the opposite way.

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