Yoko Ono Gets Songwriting Credit For Imagine

The New York Daily News reports:

It’s a double fantasy. More than 45 years after the release of the 1971 John Lennon classic, “Imagine,” Yoko Ono is getting a songwriting credit for the top song of her husband’s solo career. Lennon himself admitted that he swiped the idea for “Imagine” from a book of Ono poems.

In a BBC interview with the couple in 1980, Lennon said his wife deserved credit. “But those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution.”

But the move to give Ono credit for the song is not merely an attempt to re-write a historical wrong. The credit change means that “Imagine” won’t go into the public domain — making it free to use without paying off the Lennon estate — for another 70 years after the last surviving songwriter’s death.

So filmmakers, commercial makers and other artists will now have to wait until 2087 at the earliest, instead of 2050 — a change that could mean millions for Ono, what with “Imagine” remaining one of the 100 most-performed songs of the 20th century.

Ono, 84, has become a dance diva in recent years, with remixes of her earlier work scoring an astounding thirteen #1 hits on Billboard’s dance chart. Her resurgence began in 2003 with a remix of her 1981 classic Walking On Thin Ice. Her most recent chart-topper came in December 2016 with a remix of 1985’s Hell In Paradise. Ono is the oldest artist to score a #1 dance hit.

  • Jonathan Smith
  • That_Looks_Delicious

    “To see the apartment.”

    (Let’s see if anybody gets that obscure reference)

    • JoeMyGod

      Jeffrey!

      • Lumpy Gaga

        Thank you. I forgot the name of the movie AND the actor.

        Some trivia hotshot!

        • Jonathan Smith

          nope, i’m still lost.

          • Lumpy Gaga

            A small side-sketch in the film version of the 80s play “Jeffrey!”:

            a gay game show, and contestant Patrick Stewart buzzes in to say his trick celebrity fantasy was Yoko Ono. Everyone gasps, and he says “To see the apartment!”

          • Jonathan Smith
          • Lumpy Gaga

            Another favorite scene.

            And I will take your card, because I’d fuck her for the same reason.

          • right there with ya, babe. but i sort of hate theatre, and my card is hidden in a deep state, as i know some of the Purists want to revoke it for my many failings as a member of this community. 😉

          • Adam King

            Au contraire, my dear. We honor you for your many laudable eccentricities.

          • FAEN

            Rent ‘Jeffrey’.

          • FAEN
          • Reality.Bites

            Years later, after seeing many of Sir Patrick’s chat show appearances and goofy instagrams both with and without Sir Ian, I realize that this character is a lot more like him than Picard or X.

            At the time I remember thinking he looks like he’s having the time of his life in this role. Also thought the same of Raul Julia in Addams Family Values. Two characters thoroughly at ease in their own skin,

          • FAEN

            I agree-Sir Patrick loves the work and is very secure in his skin which is always refreshing to see.

            I miss Raul 🙁.

          • Reality.Bites

            Yes – I was actually referring to Gomez Addams and whatever the name of Stewart’s character in Jeffrey was.

      • That_Looks_Delicious

        Ding! Ding! Ding!

    • Lumpy Gaga

      Captain Picard.

    • olandp

      Really?

    • Ross

      The first time I watched that scene I burst out laughing with that answer.

      Perfect.

  • TuuxKabin
  • FAEN

    One of my favorites.

    • Randy503

      Yes, and I am glad that this is one song corporate America won’t be able to co opt and bastardize.

  • Charlie In SF

    Why can’t Yoko just go away?

    • TuuxKabin

      May she take you with her. Instant Karma.

    • Silver Badger

      Why should she?

  • Lumpy Gaga

    Her two recent “Plastic Ono Band” albums are both excellent.

    The Sun is Down!

  • That_Looks_Delicious

    OT – Why do I expect him to crouch in a corner and say “My p-r-e-c-i-o-u-s”?

    http://2d0yaz2jiom3c6vy7e7e5svk.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Sessions-ears-800×430.jpg

  • SoCalGal20
    • Gustav2

      “A stunning 50% of the CEOs, business execs, government officials and academics surveyed at the annual Yale CEO Summit give Trump an ‘F’ for his first 130 days in office.”

      Another 21% give Trump’s performance a “D”. Just 1% of the 125 leaders polled gave him an “A.”

      http://money.cnn.com/2017/06/15/investing/ceos-give-trump-f-yale-survey/index.html

      • That_Looks_Delicious

        So much winning.

      • Reality.Bites

        And how many would still vote for him, of the ones who did?

      • another_steve

        Just 1% of the 125 leaders polled gave him an “A.”

        An “A”? Wut?

        You jokin’?

        • Silver Badger

          To be fair, he is an “A” hole.

        • Beagle

          In a poll of 125 people, 1% is one person.
          One person could joke, mess with the pollster, misread the question, be completely insane.

        • KnownDonorDad

          In other words, one person…wonder who?

      • 2guysnamedjoe

        Did the pollsters ask them if they’re still contributing to drümpf-related PACs anyway? And how much?

  • barrixines

    I quite like Yoko. “Imagine” not so much…

    • Lumpy Gaga

      I like cheap tricks in music publishing.

    • TuuxKabin

      Same here.

    • Silver Badger

      I am envious of Yoko. John was HOT. I also like “Imagine” a lot.

      • barrixines

        Hot, charming but a bit of an arse at times. It’s hard to credit that there is still so much anomosity towards Yoko after all these years. It comes from the sort of crazed boyband fans that the likes of One Dimension have to this day. Forgiveable perhaps in a hormomal 13 year old girl, frankly weird in pensioner Beatles fans.

        • Silver Badger

          “Hot, charming but a bit of an arse at times.” Yup. Sounds like he was 100% human.

  • TuuxKabin
    • sfbob

      “God is a concept by which we measure our pain.”

      Perhaps the most profound theological statement of the 20th Century.

      • TuuxKabin

        And early 21st. Yeah. Thanks for that.

  • another_steve

    Remembering John Lennon.

    I was watching TV that night in 1980 when they interrupted the broadcast to announce that he had been shot and killed. One of those moments that never leave you.

    May he rest in peace.

    • That_Looks_Delicious

      “Did you know that Paul McCartney used to be with another band before Wings?”
      — Sarah Jessica Parker in ‘L.A. Story’

      • JCF

        Much more recently: that video (2015 I think) of McCartney w/ {roll eyes} Kanye West, and Rihanna. Whippersnapper crowd: “Who’s Paul McCartney?”

  • i so totally don’t care about the Beatles, Ono or any of them. i have a fondness for Lennon as he seemed like someone i’d be friends with, but reading about his sexism just reminds me that i’m of a different age and battles about the Beatles bore me. i don’t really like Ono’s stuff, but i give her credit for turning hatred, sexism and racism on its head, and making millions by that. that’s a form of feminism i approve.

  • Natty Enquirer

    Copyright originally lasted for 14 years. The greedy owners of copyright have repeatedly paid off Congress to lengthen the term of protection to the current ridiculous 100 years or so. It’s a mockery of the concept and the intent of the authors of the Constitution.

    • yup.

    • worstcultever

      Disney is the worst.

    • canoebum

      Write a book, then tell us how you feel about it. What was life expectancy in 1789? What is it today?

      • Silver Badger

        One of the wonderful things about JMG is that the blog gives us a voice individually.

      • Natty Enquirer

        Copyright for non-corporate works is now the life of the author plus 70 years. In other words, they have extended the gravy train to cover the author’s heirs. That’s TWO lifetimes at least.

        • Ernest Endevor

          If I make something why shouldn’t I be able to own its use?

          • Natty Enquirer

            It has long been a social policy goal of Western society that the fruits of intellectual labor eventually pass on to society at large. That’s why there is any limit at all.

          • Ernest Endevor

            Exactly. So let me make a living and leave the property I made to to my heirs. After that they can all go fuck themselves.

          • Lumpy Gaga

            Unless you are lucky enough to self-publish out of the gate (and few do), the longer copyright lasts, the longer it takes for the rights to your works to revert 100% to you/your estate.

          • Ernest Endevor

            Not understanding and am interested to know what you mean. I work in the theatre so perhaps that’s different.

        • Lumpy Gaga

          While I largely agree with you that copyright has been twisted, mangled, and maimed beyond purpose, intent, and public good, I see nothing wrong with the author’s/songwriter’s cut going to his/her estate for a number of years.

          If people are still putting coin on the counter for a book or a song 70 years later, why SHOULDN’T the author’s interests get a piece of that pie?

        • canoebum

          If you wrote a work of lasting value, would you not want the benefits to enure to your heirs? I see nothing wrong with that. Now, the works of artists like Mozart and Bach are in the Public Domain, as they should be. But a generation or two of benefits within one’s family is not unreasonable.

          • -M-

            It isn’t the current length of copyright that is so wrong, it’s that it keeps being extended so that nothing new enters the public domain.

        • -M-
      • Lumpy Gaga

        In practical terms – books and music – your vision is self-defeating.

        The copyright is often assigned or shared with some corporate publishing behemoth, and, yes, the publishers look after the interests of authors and songwriters. They wield muscle like a pimp, and neither Courtney Love nor I think that that is necessarily a bad thing.

        But one of the things that is supposed to happen at the end of a copyright term is that all rights revert to the original authors. If you go and extend copyright by another 20 years by an act of Congress, and, for example, that’s 20 more years before the author’s/songwriter’s estate gets it all back in toto to do with as they please and exploit as they please.

        Historically, Yoko has, in her business capacity, leaned towards extending mega-licensing deals over, say, McCartney’s clear desire and efforts to get his work back in his own hands at the earliest opportunities. She has, repeatedly over the years, gone the “publishing muscle” route on John’s works. This “Imagine” move does more for Sony/ATV than it does for her personally, but it protects the work (and probably keeps it out of Sean and Julian’s hands forever, effectively. For better or worse.)

    • Reality.Bites

      99% of copyright material is basically commercial product. Why shouldn’t the people who made this commercial product be allowed to profit from it?

      Those who view their work differently are more than free to place it in the public domain and many do.

      And frankly, I couldn’t give a shit about the intentions of an old document. They didn’t live in our world. They thought slavery was a good thing and putting queers to death was even better.

    • Everyone should see the Academy nomination, “Hidden Figures” about the Afro-American women geniuses who worked for NASA. Great movie.

    • (((GC)))

      Copyright creep.

      There’s a reason the most recent major grab in the US, the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, was known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act.

      Yes, copyright in the US originally lasted for 14 years, renewable for another 14.

      Creators might expect a valuable copyright to provide income for their children and grandchildren, but should an assignee such as a publishing or media conglomerate continue to profit from — and have exclusive control over — someone’s work when the author/​composer/​songwriter​/playwright/… is long dead?

      http://www.rstreet.org/op-ed/the-conservative-case-for-taking-on-the-copyright-lobby/

      (This was written before last year’s ruling that Warner/Chappell’s copyright claim on the lyrics to “Happy Birthday To You” was invalid, placing that song into the public domain where it belongs.)

  • Leo

    • bambinoitaliano

      Now if only the other cult evangelists are being chased by the FBI.

    • William

      I hope he has many ‘husbands’ in prison.

    • JCF

      Warren’s…son? Brother? [I thought polygamists essentially exiled their sons: “more young poon for daddy!”]

  • GayOldLady

    Ok…..I’m going to go on a bit of a feminist rant here, but WOMEN not getting credit for contributions to society, in all fields, in all endeavors, is nothing new. I’m watching the National Geo Series “Einstein” and I was struck by how much Einstein’s first wife, Mileva Maric, who was also a scientist, contributed to the theory of relativity, yet he did not credit her contribution in his writings at the time. Instead he credited a male friend and colleague in his writings. As I explained to my oldest Granddaughter, women and minorities are constantly passed over when history is chronicled. Usually, if we make it into the history books it’s because of nefarious actions instead of social contributions. So, for whatever reason she is given credit now, I’m glad her creation/inspiration is finally attributed to her.

    • FAEN

      HA! I was having this conversation with my mom just yesterday about Marcic and how most(I hadn’t until lately)haven’t heard of her contribution.

      • GayOldLady

        It’s just a sad fact of life. Without the movie, “Hidden Figures” , most of us would never have known of the remarkable contributions to our Space Program made by 3 brilliant African American Women. When I was growing up I never knew or even heard of a woman Lawyer, Doctor, Judge, Engineer, Scientist. The only career women could aspire to was teacher, nurse, secretary, clerk. And even today, in 2017, my 3 great granddaughters have few women of stature, other than music stars or actors, they can look to as role models and examples of women of great accomplishment. I realize I likely will not live to see it, but the Glass Ceiling has to be broken, not only in the Executive Branch of our government, but in the Board Room, in the Executive Ranks. We make up 51 pct of the population and with the exception of nursing and teaching, we’re grossly underrepresented.

        • jmax

          It makes me so terribly sad to think how close we were to smashing that ceiling just 7 months ago and how far it seems society has regressed since then.

          • be happy. we did. the russians took that victory away from us bc among other things, pootie is a sexist pig.

          • jmax

            The fact that another country interfered in our elections and got away with it (so far) because of complicity from our own elected officials makes me even sadder : |

        • William

          The most glaring omission of the 20th century was Rosalind Franklin’s contribution to the discovery of the structure of DNA. By contribution, I mean that Watson and Crick stole it off her desk.

        • Hue-Man

          That’s why historians won’t go out of business. As society and culture change, a new perspective develops on events from the past (it shouldn’t have been that way to start with!).

          The down-note is that today’s culture doesn’t make room for things that happened before yesterday. Hidden Figures is one of the exceptions; Google says box office of $230 million vs budget of $25 million.

        • Lazycrockett

          Thank god Kevin Costner took down that colored only sign!!

    • nobody remembers the fact that several historic buildings in DC were designed by an African-American architect.

      • Jonathan Smith

        and built. maybe not willingly……….

      • GayOldLady

        The contributions of African-Americans in every aspect of American life is remarkable, yet so little is present in the history our children are taught.

    • Oscarlating Wildely

      Tiffany lamps and much of the earlier designs, patterns, cutting, setting, and overall execution: all women, Clara Driscoll et al of the ladies.

      Amount of attention given to that fact has been scant until recent years.

    • Dusty Springfield produced virtually every song she ever performed, but never got a single credit for it.

    • JCF

      Google the discovery of DNA (“the double helix”). It’s the Same Fucking Deal. Rosalind Franklin, presente!

      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b2/Photo_51_x-ray_diffraction_image.jpg

    • sfbob

      As I understand it, Einstein’s treatment of Maric throughout their relationship was, to put it charitably, unspeakable. Einstein may have been a genius (indeed he was) but his vision apparently did not extend to respect for women.

  • Ernest Endevor

    The lawyers strike again. Can’t stop laughing.

  • TheManicMechanic

    At least he didn’t take Yoko’s lyrics as they actually were. “Imagine no more screaming! *Screeeeech* *Waaaaiiiilll* *Screeeeeeeaaaam* *Caterwaaaauul* *high-pitched, vaguely Asian mumbling*”

    • jmax

      Not a fan, huh? : )

      • TheManicMechanic

        Not a fan of the Primal Scream Therapy period, no. Other stuff, yes and no. It’s a varied catalog with too many selections to pick and choose. 😉

        • jmax

          Never cared for dance music of any kind. The rest of her output, I’ll be nice and just say I find some of it “interesting”.

  • saucetin

    Where’s that file of her scream https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6vnXJVAnu8

  • Hank

    Didn’t Hair Drumpf and other Rethuglicans use current copyrighted music for their campaigns WITHOUT paying a penny???

    • m_lp_ql_m

      At least they stopped upon receiving the cease-and-desist letter.

    • Lumpy Gaga

      Most venues – big or small – pay a PRO (performance rights org) an annual licensing fee which gives them carte blanche to play pretty much everything published by the big guys (ASCAP and BMI. Note: not retransmit, but simply public performance of the work inside the venue). It’s the venue exercising its rights, not Trump exercising made-up ones.

      Now, Jodi Ernst’s slaughterhouse probably doesn’t bother paying such fees, so if he spoke there, and used music, there’d probably be a problem.

      Frankly, there was SO MUCH retransmission of the political events, including walk-on music, I’m surprised that Trump’s campaign didn’t get in more trouble than it did (of course, maybe news outlets got the nastygrams. IDEK.)

      The GOP convention’s use of “We Are the Champions” for Trump’s entrance was trampling all over the place like Godzilla: retransmission rights and sync rights, I’d think, at least. But I’m sure that in Trump world, once something is done, it’s done. Spilt milk, punched face, grabbed pussy, etc.

  • Michael R
  • William

    One of Yoko’s greatest achievements was convincing my upstairs neighbors to move away.

    • stevenj

      Yma Sumac helped my downstairs neighbor move out.

      • William

        I had a dog who would sing along to Yma.

  • Slim Compersion

    It is a classic song, but now in my adult life whenever it hear its line “Imagine no possessions” the first thing I imagine is that song not being subject to copyright.

    So let’s see how much Yoko Ono means it.

  • boobert

    Yoko won me over after the election ! https://twitter.com/yokoono/status/797187458505080834

    • 2guysnamedjoe

      Another lament, in a similar vein. https://youtu.be/vZjj3FFAxWI

    • Bj Lincoln

      That is not music. She just makes awful noise into a mic.

  • Gerry Fisher

    Just hit a new level of respect for Ono. She’s just about as old as my mother. Comparing their lifestyles and areas of focus in recent years…*very* different.

  • Mickey Bitsko

    for another 70 years after the last surviving songwriter’s death.

    Typo or just bad writing & editing?

    Imagine there’s no typos,
    It’s easy if you tyr

  • Bj Lincoln

    All I know about her music is that screeching shit between John’s songs on an album they made together. I have several copies of ‘Imagine” and we play it every time we jam in honor of John and what the song stands for. I will never accept her as the writer of this beautiful peace of music. She doesn’t need the money.

    • darren lyle

      Your acceptance is neither requested nor required. That it is beyond your grasp that she is an artist that John was deeply moved and inspired by, and that now, finally, her contributions to his music (not to mention her contributions to art and the avant-garde music scene) are being recognized, that is simply your tough darts, and your comment speaks of a rather shallow personal reflection.

  • Dejerrity

    Yoko Ono is still alive?

  • June Gordon

    What a rude, self-indulgent thing to do to her dead husband.

    • darren lyle

      Oh you poor little thing.

    • ByronK

      It was her husband’s wish and it’s none of your fucking business.

      • June Gordon

        That woman always finds a way to elbow in to Lennon’s fame.

        • ByronK

          She had and has her own. He admitted she deserved a writing credit. What is the real problem you have with “that woman”?

  • ByronK

    I didn’t know a great deal about Ono for years other than the jokes about her music and the fact that she’d been (unfairly) blamed for the break up of the Beatles. Then in one of my previous work incarnations, I ended up being responsible for all the marketing and media relations for a multi-media play based on her life and work. The creator, who is a friend to this day, was instrumental in my education about all things Ono and I discovered a very deep appreciation and respect for her work. She was a well established artist before she met Lennon and has a body of work stretching over decades. I went to New York two summers ago in part to see her one-woman show at MOMA. Yes, her music was and is highly experimental but far more complex than to be dismissed as little more than a joke. Much of the public backlash and slagging she faced, and still faces judging from some of the comments on here have their original basis in misogyny and racism. She was a woman and she was Asian, two things that hardly made one popular in America especially during WWII and in the aftermath. Over the last decade or so there has been a renewed interest and examination of her work and she has been receiving the praise and attention she deserves. Long overdue in my opinion and I marvel at how she is still such a force to be reckoned with at 84.

  • JCF

    In a BBC interview with the couple in 1980, Lennon said his wife
    deserved credit. “But those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more
    macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution.”

    “Imagine there’s no sexism….”

  • fuzzybits

    Love Yoko.