Friday, June 16, 2017
Yoko Ono credited as co-writer of Imagine
John Lennon's signature solo song Imagine was released in 1971 as the title track to his second studio album, co-produced by himself, Yoko Ono and Phil Spector. It has been named one of the top 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century, with cover versions by Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Joan Baez, Elton John, Neil Young, Lady Gaga, Diana Ross and hundreds of others.
Forty-six years later, Ono is being given co-writing credit for the song. On Wednesday, at a meeting of the National Music Publishers Association, where the song was bestowed the "Centennial Song award, CEO David Israelite announced "Tonight it is my distinct honour to correct the record some 48 years later and recognize Yoko Ono as a co-writer of the NMPA centennial song Imagine, and to present Yoko Ono with this well-deserved credit.”
Lennon often cited Ono's classic artist book Grapefruit as inspiration for the song: “Imagine should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song,” he said. “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. There’s a whole pile of pieces about ‘imagine this’ and ‘imagine that.’”
Ono, recently released from hospital, accepted the award in a wheelchair, pushed by Sean Lennon, who tweeted that it was the proudest day of his life.
With Ono operating the Lennon Estate the financial implications of the change would seem minimal, but from a publishing standpoint this addition has major implications. The copyright act of 1976 stipulates that: "from the moment of its creation and gives it a term lasting for the author’s life plus an additional 70 years."Lennon was killed in 1980, making the song subject to public domain in 2050.
The next line in the act states "For a “joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire,” the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author’s death." This would mean that the song would remain generating income for the publishers for another forty or fifty years after 2050.