George Harrison Explained Why John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ Wasn’t a Beatles Song

“Imagine” is one of the most famous songs John Lennon released after The Beatles’ breakup. During an interview, George Harrison said “Imagine” could have been a Beatles song. George explained why the Fab Four didn’t record the track.

The Beatles' John Lennon wearing glasses around the time he wrote "Imagine"
The Beatles’ John Lennon | Ron Howard/Redferns

George Harrison revealed what he enjoyed about making music without The Beatles

During a 2000 interview with Billboard, George promoted a rerelease of All Things Must Pass. George said he created demos for some songs from his solo album All Things Must Pass while The Beatles made Let It Be. “I mean, I was probably trying to get them recorded in amongst all the usual John and Paul [McCartney] stuff,” he recalled.

George discussed the perks of having a solo career. “For me, that was the great thing about splitting up: to be able to go off and make my own record and record all these songs that I’d been stockpiling,” he said. “And also to be able to record with all these new people, which was like a breath of fresh air, really.”

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George Harrison said ‘Isn’t It a Pity?’ and John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ would have been Beatles songs if The Beatles didn’t break up

George revealed he didn’t intend “Isn’t It a Pity?,” one of the most famous songs from All Things Must Pass, to be one of his solo songs. “No, I mean, this is the funny thing: imagine if The Beatles had gone on and on,” George said. “Well, the songs on All Things Must Pass, maybe some of them I would probably only just got ’round to do now, you know, with my quota that I was allowed [laughs].”

George made interesting comments about what would have happened to “Isn’t It a Pity?” and “Imagine” if The Beatles hadn’t disbanded. “‘Isn’t It a Pity?’ would just have been a Beatles song, wouldn’t it?” he asked hypothetically. “And now that could be said for each one of us. ‘Imagine’ would have been a Beatles song, but it was with John’s songs. It just happened that The Beatles finished.”

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The way the world reacted to ‘Imagine’

“Imagine” became a massive hit. The song reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for nine weeks. “Imagine” appeared on John’s album of the same name. The album spent one week on top of the Billboard 200 and 47 total weeks on the chart.

“Imagine” became even more popular in the United Kingdom. According to The Official Charts Company, “Imagine” reached No. 1 in the U.K. for four weeks and lasted on the chart for 42 total weeks. In 1988, a double A-side of “Imagine” and “Jealous Guy” peaked at No. 45 and remained on the chart for five weeks. Meanwhile, Imagine hit No. 1 in the U.K. and spent 101 weeks on the chart. “Imagine” became a huge hit even if The Beatles never recorded it.

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