What does songwriting credit mean these days? Not much apparently, it gets easily to get some! Yoko Ono has received credit for co-writing ‘Imagine’, probably John Lennon’s most famous song, and one of the most popular songs ever. The CEO of the National Music Publishers Association, David Israelite, announced the news in New York this week. She was there to accept the Centennial Song Award for the legendary song, when Israelite showed a 1980 video showing Lennon say that Yoko deserved a songwriting credit for the song because of her influence and inspiration on it.
I don’t know how serious Lennon was when he said this, but technically inspiration is not co-writing, or is it? It’s difficult to know after this official recognition, but to me it’s not! According to the articles mentioning the news, she was surprised when the announcement was made and was not the person who had initiated the process, so all the Yoko haters should stay quiet. She already has all Lennon’s money so what would this change anything for her beside prestige of course? So unless I don’t have all the info, she simply got a nice gift, 45 years later.
Still, this creates a precedent like any other, should Sara Lowndes get some credit for a few Bob Dylan songs? Christie Brinkley undoubtedly was the Uptown Girl in Billie Joel’s song, should she receive some songwriting credit too?… And what about Pamela Des Barres and so many other muses?
If Yoko was such a major inspiration for the song and if Lennon was aware of her strong influence, why didn’t he credit her when he released the song in the first place? He died 9 years after writing ‘Imagine’ so he had plenty of time to add her name in the credits over the years. Still he didn’t do it, and for so many reasons, this unprecedented songwriting accreditation sounds crazy.