Last week I wrote about an album title that managed to say a great deal with only two words. This week, I give you one word, three vaguely defined syllables which perhaps represent the creative peak of modern popular music. I give you:


Imagine is the name of John Lennon’s second solo album released in 1971. Imagine is a verb. Mr Dale, my primary school teacher, said I should think of verbs as “doing words”. This doing word, however, has an overwhelming suggestion of not doing, of dreaming, drifting away on a cloud.

The album explores this strangest of verbs. Most of us spend a lot of time imagining something better. In our own way we imagine heaven. In the title track, John asks us to imagine there is no heaven, to give up on endless dissatisfaction. To do that, we would have to stop imagining. There he is, John Lennon, member of the awkward squad, handing back his MBE, doing bed-ins for peace, on an FBI watch list because of his political activism, telling us to stop imagining a better world. How does that work? How can you say let it be and let’s make things better, at the same time?

The secret lies in the word imagine. This is a word where doing and not doing coexist.


Nothing more needs to be said.

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