Imagine a co-writer

Credit where credit is demonstrably due:

Yoko Ono will, legalities willing, be added as a songwriter to one of the most famous pop songs in the world — and John Lennon’s biggest solo hit — “Imagine.”

“Tonight, it is my distinct honor to correct the record some 48 years later,” David Israelite, president and CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association, said Wednesday night in New York at his organization’s annual event.

Just before announcing Ono’s addition, a clip from a BBC interview with John Lennon was played in which he admits her centrality to its creation and his “macho” omission of her from its credits:

“Actually that should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because a lot of it — the lyric and the concept — came from Yoko. 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.”

I can’t help but wonder if Yoko pointed this out to John when “Imagine” was released in 1971; she’s never exactly been known for her reticence.

The first question that came to me, though, was “Will this extend the copyright on the song?” It will not: under the law in force in 1971, the song enters the public domain 70 years after the death of the last author, and at the time, John Lennon was the one and only author of record. Not that I’m going to put out a PD version of “Imagine” in 2050 or anything.

8 comments

  1. Mike aka Proof »

    16 June 2017 · 6:05 pm

    I used to tick off my Lennon loving friends by singing, “Imagine there’s no gravity…”

  2. CGHill »

    16 June 2017 · 6:16 pm

    It’s not so easy, even if you try.

  3. Brett »

    16 June 2017 · 6:33 pm

    I’d probably have been happy having my name left off…

  4. John Salmon »

    16 June 2017 · 9:09 pm

    I wonder how this could possibly be legal, but I suppose no one will fight it. Surely no one else wants to claim this forgettable bit of psuedo-profound nihilism. Not surprising, really, that John borrowed it from Yoko-at his best, before Yoko, John likely would’ve thought it was ridiculous.

  5. John Salmon »

    16 June 2017 · 9:10 pm

    “pseudo”

  6. Mike aka Proof »

    16 June 2017 · 9:26 pm

    And for someone who “imagines no possessions”, there’s an awful lot of attention paid to who the copyright owner is and where the money goes!

  7. CGHill »

    16 June 2017 · 10:01 pm

    Well, of course. There’s real money involved. Forget all that theoretical jazz.

  8. Holly H »

    19 June 2017 · 10:11 am

    “forgettable bit of psuedo-profound nihilism”. It’s one of my favorite songs, and I consider it to be wildly optimistic, not “nihilism” of any sort. To each his/r own.

RSS feed for comments on this post