John Lennon: “Imagine”

Posted: September 27, 2013 in THE CLASH of Cover Tunes
Tags: , , , ,

In deference to the recent anniversary of the 9-11 tragedy I chose the greatest song John Lennon ever penned to launch Cover Me Impressed. Needless to say it is beyond disheartening that 42 years after this brilliant plea for peace was introduced it is as pertinent today as the day it was written.

The Original

John Lennon:


The Cover Songs Competition


David Bowie vs. Neil Young


David Bowie:

Neil Young:

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?

Also, keep in mind that if you should spontaneously self-actualize while playing a cover then you could – and probably should – nominate it for Top 10 (i.e. “Impeccable”) consideration.



Votes can be cast up to seven days from the day and time of the original post.

Disclaimer: Votes cast from Florida may or may not be counted.

  1. Donna says:

    Loved seeing this video of John and Yoko! Beautiful way to start my day….

  2. RDubbs says:

    Truly a timeless masterpiece.

  3. Okay, as much as I love David Bowie, he just doesn’t pull this off. Neil gets it, hands down.

  4. rdrrproductions says:

    Sad to think of the vast wealth of music we were denied by John’s passing. And of all the “Beatles Reunite For One Last Time” tours that would have occurred every decade or so.

  5. RDubbs says:

    This one is really, really tough. I love the song and both Bowie and Neil produced phenomenal renditions. Purely on sound I think I’d have to give it to Bowie. But the raw emotion that Neil exudes, performing just days after the 9-11 insanity, is palpable. Damn this solemn responsibility!!! … (long sigh followed by a longer pause) … I’m going with Neil.

  6. Pete black says:

    Listening to Bowie’s version first, as it began I thought that his voice was perfect for this song and that it would be hard to beat but as the arrangement went on it got cluttered and lost the simple beauty of the song. This song is lives in its lyrics and simple melody. Both versions only reinforce John’s definitive reading. Neil can’t sing like he could years ago but his sincerity and empathy are apparent and he was closer to the vision for me.

  7. frank winston says:

    Loved the fact that Neil, with an almost endless catalogue of his own original tunes, many of which would have been appropriate, deferred to lennon and made the perfect choice. So haunting and pure ya gotta think even bin Laden must have choked up a bit a and phoned in a donation ….. okay, maybe I’m getting just a little carried away …….

    • frank winston says:

      But not Saddam ….. that sonuvabitch never showed one bit of remorse, and probably would have voted for his own hastily thrown together version anyway!

  8. frank winston says:

    I think if Bowie had teamed up with Jagger in a more upbeat / dance-friendly version of the classic we may have seen a bit more of a horse race here …. just sayin’

    • RDubbs says:

      The addition of a theremin provides a fun ethereal/airy feel to any song. Perhaps Bowie should have explored employing one just to lighten the mood a bit.

  9. Cuspid says:

    Even after watching both cover videos, upper-most in my mind was RDubbs’ assertion the Imagine is “the greatest song John Lennon ever penned”. Don’t get me wrong; I like the song for sure. But there must be at least 2 or 3 dozen other Lennon songs I like better. Of course, this has nothing to do with the cover song competition, which IMO is too close to call. .

    • RDubbs says:

      Cuspid, I’ve been awaiting your protestation of “John Lennon’s greatest lyrics”. Much too controversial a statement not to be countered and, quite frankly, I’m surprised it took this long for someone to question it. But I did not include that statement just to rattle your cage. I do think it is his finest lyrical moment. There have been thousands of songs written of similar sentiment but few stand the test of time. “Imagine” is perfect in its simplicity on one level yet brims with depth and philosophical complexity on another. John’s not simply arguing for world peace, which so many before and since have done. He’s opining on the primary causal roots of war and suggesting an alternative path and lifestyle, all while not sounding the least bit sappy. In my opinion it stands with Phil Ochs’ “I’m Not Marching Anymore” as the two standards of the anti-war genre.

      But I can see a blog in the not-too-distant future regarding John Lennon’s finest lyrics. So start getting your lists ready …

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s