5 Inspiring Covers of John Lennon’s “Imagine”

by Alec Plowman, Mar 20, 2018 . 4 min read

5 Inspiring Covers of John Lennon’s “Imagine”

Since its release in 1971, John Lennon’s “Imagine” has become one of the enduring anthems of our time. And, while the original recording is piano-driven, it’s still a great, simple guitar song for those learning to play guitar, thanks to its easy chords.

“Imagine” is such an accessible tune, in fact, that countless artists have put their own spin on it. And some of those covers are truly worthy of John Lennon’s iconic original.

So, here, in no particular order, are Roadie’s top five covers of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Oh, and we’ve included links to guitar tabs and guitar chords to the different versions – especially handy if you want to teach yourself guitar. (To get you started, here are the chords for the original version).

Neil Young

Performed at the “America: A Tribute to Heroes” telethon on September 21st, 2001, Neil Young’s rendition of “Imagine” doesn’t veer too far from Lennon’s original. But, there’s a haunting fragility to Young’s delivery that puts his signature stamp on it. The string section that backs him is also a nice touch.

Neil Young – “Imagine” chords

Chris Cornell

Late Soundgarden and Audioslave front man Chris Cornell started performing the Lennon classic on his 2011 “Songbook” solo tour, with the song appearing on the live album of the same name. The thing that shines through on this version is Cornell’s phenomenal, soaring vocal performance. One of the greatest singers of his generation, listening to it brings home just how much he is missed.

Chris Cornell – “Imagine” chords

 A Perfect Circle

A Perfect Circle turns the tables on Lennon’s classic with this version, from 2004’s politically charged covers album “eMOTIVe.” Lennon’s version was wishful and optimistic, but APC’s minor key take is dark, haunting and cynical. An entirely different, but equally effective rendition, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’ve never heard it.

A Perfect Circle – “Imagine” tab

Eva Cassidy 

The late, great Eva Cassidy had a knack for producing sublime cover versions. You’ve only got to check out her takes on “Fields of Gold” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for proof of that. Her rendition of “Imagine,” released posthumously after her untimely death in 1996, is no exception. Instrumentally, it’s a simple and understated version, which acts as an excellent showcase for her phenomenal voice. Sadly overlooked in her lifetime, much of Cassidy’s work still remains under the radar. But, as this wonderful version proves, she’s definitely an artist worthy of appraisal.

Eva Cassidy – “Imagine” chords

Lady Gaga

Gaga debuted her version of “Imagine” live at the National Equality March in 2009. Faithful to the Lennon version, it’s an unusually stripped-back performance from a singer typically big on bombast. Her powerful voice shines through though, and the lyrics changed to reflect the murder of gay student Matthew Shepard (“above us, only sky” becomes “And only Matthew in the sky”) are a timely update on Lennon’s original sentiments.

Lady Gaga – “Imagine” chords



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit

Check out some other similar articles

Although women by no means are under-represented in the music industry, female instrumentalists are not quite as common as we’d like them to be –

Frederik Nielsen
Mar 8, 2020 . 4 min read

A list of musicians who died before the age of 30 would be too long to write. Even going through all of the members of the infamous “27 Club” would take ages.

Frederik Nielsen
Mar 4, 2020 . 3 min read

While most people are not sure if they have one genuine talent, some people are much luckier. 

Tamara Habchi
Mar 3, 2020 . 4 min read

In most cases, parents are proud when their kids reach a developmental milestone ahead of their peers.

Tamara Habchi
Mar 2, 2020 . 4 min read

There are enough obstacles to making it in the music industry. Succeeding with a disability is nothing short of a miracle. But it’s not impossible.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 25, 2020 . 4 min read

People who speak more than one language are impressive to all of us. And musicians that play more than one instrument are even more impressive.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 25, 2020 . 4 min read

Despite what many people will tell you, you can earn more than decent money as a relatively unknown, professional guitarist. There are many ways to make money:

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 24, 2020 . 3 min read

When you think of the ukulele, you probably think about a tropical, Hawaiian beach with lots of sunlight. But people from all over the world have fallen in love with ukulele.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 18, 2020 . 5 min read

The second month of the year comes with a lot of celebrations. We have the Presidents’ Day, there’s also Valentine’s Day, plus all of the birthdays of amazing people we look up to.

Frederik Nielsen
Feb 17, 2020 . 3 min read

A while back I wrote a blog post about songwriting habits. Most of what I found during my research

Frederik Nielsen
Jan 28, 2020 . 4 min read

New year, New reviews? But wait, before we officially welcome 2020, let’s look back at some of our favorite reviews of 2019.

Tamara Habchi
Jan 8, 2020 . 4 min read

In this edition of Roadie Spotlight, we’re checking out the Japanese guitar virtuoso ichika [sic] who has taken the Internet by storm with his amazing skills.

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 31, 2019 . 3 min read

Nothing says Christmas like a screeching guitar solo. Christmas Hits CDs are flying off shelves at this time of year. But, spare a thought for your heavy metal

Alec Plowman
Dec 25, 2019 . 4 min read

Not all stars are plastered across social media. Some manage to create a buzz without resorting to self-aggrandizing promotion techniques. 

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 24, 2019 . 3 min read

We’re almost at the end of 2019 and thought we’d round off the year with more spotlights on great guitarists that we come across online.

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 20, 2019 . 3 min read

Annie Plays Guitar is a name that has popped up on social media for the past few years. We’ve had a listen to Annie Wagstaff’s music and also looked at her new project HANNIE in this edition of Roadie Spotlight.

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 16, 2019 . 3 min read

We’re once more putting the spotlight of some of our favorite artists here on the Roadie blog. Some of them are famous, others are emerging — but all of them are amazing.

Frederik Nielsen
Dec 5, 2019 . 2 min read

Ever wondered what equipment some of the greatest guitarists of all time used?

Then look no further.

Frederik Nielsen
Oct 30, 2019 . 4 min read

When it comes to learning guitar, everybody has a goal piece. It’s that one song they’ve wanted to master since they first picked up the instrument

Alec Plowman
Sep 23, 2019 . 3 min read

Today’s Roadie Spotlight series will introduce Adam Nitti, a world-renown bassist, music teacher, composer, and recording artist.

Randall Nashleanas
Aug 9, 2019 . 3 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!