John Lennon (1940-1980) was a singer, songwriter, and musician who became a cultural icon as a member of the Beatles. Born in Liverpool, England, Lennon was known for his wit, sarcasm, and creativity, which he channeled into his music. Along with Paul McCartney, he wrote some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century, including “Imagine,” “Hey Jude,” and “All You Need Is Love.”
In addition to his work with the Beatles, Lennon also pursued a solo career, releasing several critically acclaimed albums. His music often reflected his political and social views, including his opposition to war and his support for civil rights.
Beyond music, Lennon was a controversial figure known for his outspokenness and activism. He and his wife, Yoko Ono, were heavily involved in anti-war protests, and he was famously targeted by the U.S. government for his political views. His tragic death at the age of 40, when he was shot by a deranged fan outside his New York City apartment, only added to his legend.
Lennon’s legacy as a musician and cultural icon continues to inspire generations of fans, who admire his creativity, his honesty, and his commitment to making the world a better place.
Table of Contents
1. ‘Instant Karma!’
“Instant Karma!” is a song written by John Lennon and released as a single in 1970. The song is known for its upbeat tempo and catchy chorus, with Lennon’s passionate vocals and driving piano playing. The lyrics call for instant karma to catch up with those who do wrong, with Lennon singing “We all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.” The song was recorded and released in just ten days, and was intended to promote Lennon’s and Yoko Ono’s peace campaign. It quickly became a hit, reaching the top five in both the UK and US charts, and remains a popular and influential song today.
2. ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’
“(Just Like) Starting Over” is a song by John Lennon released in 1980, just three weeks before his tragic death. The upbeat rock song was the lead single of his album “Double Fantasy,” which he recorded with his wife, Yoko Ono. The song features a catchy chorus, prominent piano, and Lennon’s signature gritty vocals. It was a commercial success, reaching the top of the charts in the UK and US after Lennon’s death. The song’s lyrics reflect Lennon’s optimistic outlook on life and his hope for a fresh start in his personal and professional life after a five-year hiatus from music. It remains a beloved and nostalgic track in the legacy of one of the most influential musicians of all time.
3. ‘Stand by Me’
“Stand by Me” is a classic soulful ballad recorded by Ben E. King in 1961. The song features a simple, yet memorable melody, coupled with heartfelt lyrics about the importance of having someone to lean on during difficult times. The song has been covered by numerous artists over the years, including John Lennon and Tracy Chapman, among others. The song’s popularity has endured for over six decades, and it has been featured in various films, television shows, and commercials. Its enduring appeal can be attributed to its universal message of love, friendship, and support, which has resonated with generations of listeners.
4. ‘Give Peace a Chance’
“Give Peace a Chance” is a 1969 song written by John Lennon, credited to Lennon-McCartney, and performed with Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band. It became an anthem of the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War era. The song features a simple, repetitive melody with lyrics that promote peace and unity, emphasizing the power of people to create change. The recording captures the atmosphere of a protest rally, with chanting and cheering in the background, giving it a raw and authentic feel. “Give Peace a Chance” has since become a classic and continues to be a popular song advocating for peace and social justice.
5. ‘#9 Dream
“#9 Dream” is a song by John Lennon, released in 1975. The song was inspired by a dream Lennon had, in which a voice repeated the phrase “number nine, number nine.” The dreamlike quality of the song is enhanced by the use of overdubs and sound effects, creating a surreal atmosphere. The lyrics are impressionistic and poetic, with phrases such as “Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé” and “sailing through the galaxies, stars in my eyes.” The chorus is catchy and memorable, with the repetition of the phrase “Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé” and the simple but effective melody. The song showcases Lennon’s creative experimentation and willingness to take risks, as well as his talent for writing catchy pop songs with a twist.
6. ‘Working Class Hero’
“Working Class Hero” is a song written by John Lennon that was released in 1970 on his debut solo album, “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band”. The song speaks to the struggles and frustrations of the working class and the societal pressures to conform. The lyrics are raw and honest, with a minimalist instrumental arrangement that highlights the power of Lennon’s vocals. The song has been covered by numerous artists over the years and has become an anthem for the working class and a call for societal change. With its strong social commentary and poignant lyrics, “Working Class Hero” remains a timeless classic that continues to resonate with audiences today.
“Woman” is a song by John Lennon, released in 1981 as a single from his album “Double Fantasy”. It was written as a tribute to his wife, Yoko Ono, and focuses on the theme of love and the importance of women in society. The song is characterized by Lennon’s signature rock sound, with prominent use of piano, guitar, and drums. The lyrics convey a sense of appreciation and admiration for women, and the chorus features a repeated declaration of “woman, I love you”. The song was a commercial success, reaching the top ten in several countries, and remains a popular tribute to the women in people’s lives.
8. ‘Jealous Guy’
“Jealous Guy” is a song by John Lennon that was first released on his 1971 album “Imagine”. The song is a melancholic ballad that reflects Lennon’s feelings of insecurity and jealousy within his relationship with Yoko Ono. The lyrics express regret for past actions and a desire to improve himself. The song has been covered by many artists over the years, including Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry, and has become a classic of Lennon’s solo career. Its emotional vulnerability and simple yet powerful melody make it a timeless piece of music that continues to resonate with listeners today.
9. ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’
Released in 1971 by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” is a holiday classic with a message of peace and hope. The song was written as a protest against the Vietnam War and features children singing the chorus “War is over, if you want it.” The lyrics encourage listeners to reflect on the year gone by and look forward to a brighter future. The song has become a popular Christmas staple and has been covered by various artists over the years. It remains a timeless reminder of the importance of peace, love, and understanding during the holiday season and beyond.
“Imagine” is a powerful and iconic song that encourages listeners to imagine a world without divisions and conflicts such as religion, borders, and possessions. Released by John Lennon in 1971, the song became an anthem for peace and unity. Its simple yet profound lyrics, along with Lennon’s emotive vocals and piano playing, make it one of the most recognizable and influential songs of all time. “Imagine” continues to inspire people around the world to strive for a better future and has become a symbol of hope and compassion.
Edward Tomlin is a frequent contributor to Singers Room. Since 2005, Singersroom has been the voice of R&B around the world. Connect with us via social media below.
"Imagine" Lennon acknowledges upfront that 'Imagine,' his bestselling and most popular solo song, is a bit naive: "You may say I'm a dreamer," he sings.What did John Lennon consider his best song? ›
- 'Strawberry Fields Forever'
- 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'
- 'I Am The Walrus'
- 'Across The Universe'
Lennon's most famous solo single was inspired, he said, by a book of poems by Yoko Ono, who was credited with co-writing Imagine in 2017. Rolling Stone voted it third in its run-down of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004 and it is still ubiquitous almost 50 years after it was made.
1. “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” Buddy Holly (1956) Originally written and recorded by Chuck Berry—whose 1964 rock hit “No Particular Place to Go” also made Lennon's playlist—”Brown Eyed Handsome Man” was first released as a B-Side to “Too Much Monkey Business” and later on Berry's 1957 debut After School Session.