46 years after the release of former Beatle John Lennon’s signature song, “Imagine”, his former wife Yoko Ono finally received a songwriting credit on the composition. This was announced at a National Music Publishers Association meeting, where the organization was presenting Ono and Sean Lennon, Yoko and John’s son, with the Centennial Song Award. The award was essentially made to name “Imagine” the “song of the century”. The other award given at the event was the Centennial Songwriter Icon Award, which was awarded to Pharrell Williams.
Proudest day of my life: The National Music Publishers Association just gave the centennial (song of the century) award to Imagine, but WAIT! Surprise! They played an audio interview of my father saying (approximately) 'Imagine should've been credited as a Lennon/Ono song, if it had been anyone other than my wife I would've given them credit.' Cut to: my mother welling up in tears, and then Patti and Jesse Smith @michiganmanhattan Imagine! Patience is a virtue! ✌️❤✌️❤✌️❤✌️ (PS they officially declared Imagine to be a Lennon/Ono song and gave my mother a second award! 🙏)
In the run-up to the award presentation, NMPA Chief Executive David Israelite rolled a 1980 clip of Lennon talking about Ono’s contributions to “Imagine”, saying, “I know she helped on a lot of the lyrics, but I wasn’t man enough to let her have credit for it. I was still selfish… I was still full of wanting my own space after being in the room with four guys and always having to share everything,” He even acknowledged his sexism in the clip, admitting that he would’ve credited a male songwriter, such as David Bowie, if he had been involved in the making of the song. Lennon also acknowledges that he drew from experience with his relationship with Ono, saying the song “expresses what I learned through being with Yoko and my own feelings on it.”
While Israelite said Ono would be given a songwriter credit during the ceremony, he later clarified that there are still some legal hoops that remain to be jumped through in order to make the change official. However, an NMPA representative expressed optimism on behalf of the organization, stating, “we currently do not know of any opposition to this update.” This would be another big moment for Ono’s later career, as she is already in the middle of executive producing a film on her relationship with Lennon, as well as making digital reissues of her albums available to the public.