Imagine that a woman could write one of the most well-known songs of all time because, well, she did. After 46 years, Yoko Ono is receiving credit for co-writing “Imagine” with John Lennon. Ono is not someone to underestimate, which is why this isn’t a big surprise. But it is shocking that it can still take so long for a talented woman to receive credit for her work. Still, credit was given where it was due, and it’s better to happen later than…never?
The CEO of the National Music Publishers Association, David Israelite, announced the news in New York this week where Yoko Ono thought she was merely accepting the Centennial Song Award for “Imagine.” What a pleasant surprise! Ono tweeted about the event, thanking the NMPA with a picture of her accepting the award with her son, who’s the spitting image of his iconic father.
According to Vogue, Israelite showed a clip from a BBC interview with John Lennon in which he admits that Ono should have been credited as a co-writer of the song. Said Lennon,
“Actually, that should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because a lot of it, the lyric, and the concept, came from Yoko. 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. There’s a whole pile of pieces about ‘Imagine this’ and ‘Imagine that.’”
Ah, the male ego truly has no bounds. Even a high-minded songwriting genius who sings about equality and love is able to take full credit for a song that his wife (an artist in her own right) contributed to.
At least Lennon was able to look back and see how his toxic masculinity clouded his judgement. They say hindsight is 20/20, so we’re glad he recorded his admission of Ono’s contribution or else she may never have been credited as a writer on “Imagine.” (Insert eye roll.)
Variety reports that Ono was incredibly pleased with receiving official credit with her award. Though she is reportedly ailing at age 84, Ono told the crowd, “This is the best time of my life.” She later tweeted an optimistic personal message (while her Twitter account is often used for dispensing sage advice and peaceful messages.)
This whole incident raises questions about other popular works that women have made important contributions to that go unacknowledged. Did Coretta Scott King write “I have a dream?” Did Anne Hathaway co-write Hamlet? Did a nameless female lab assistant help Alexander Fleming discover penicillin?
Millions of women’s contributions go un-credited, probably every day, and Ono’s official acknowledgement for her role in creating one of the most popular anthems of all time is an important victory for womankind.