John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ Sounds a Lot Like Another 1 of His Hit Songs

John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ Sounds a Lot Like Another 1 of His Hit Songs


John Lennon‘s “Imagine” (1971) is his most famous ballad — but it wasn’t his last. One of his later ballads has a lot in common with “Imagine” musically. However, the two songs have very different meanings. One of John’s sons said that the later song is about the real meaning of life.

John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ has the same riff and soundscape as his song ‘Watching the Wheels’

Perhaps the most famous part of “Imagine” is its gentle opening riff. It’s the perfect way for John to sugarcoat his controversial messages about religion, countries, and property. A similar set of piano chords showed up at the beginning of John’s “Watching the Wheels” (1980).

“Watching the Wheels” has a similar overall vibe to “Imagine.” Considering “Imagine” was one of John’s few solo singles to reach the Billboard Hot 100 top 5 in the 1970s, it makes sense that he would want to revisit its soundscape in the 1980s.

John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ is political but ‘Watching the Wheels’ is about celebrity

Of course, the major difference between the two songs is their lyrics. “Imagine” speaks of political issues that affect us all. There’s a reason why it’s been covered in different languages in cultures across the globe.

“Watching the Wheels,” meanwhile, is John defending his decision to take some time off from show business to be a father. It’s the sort of track that’s relatable to a very small number of people. While the tune hit No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981, it has mostly fallen out of favor with the public.

Sean Ono Lennon compared ‘Watching the Wheels’ to 1 of his father’s antireligious tunes

John and Yoko Ono had one child together: Sean Ono Lennon. In a 2020 interview with Rolling Stone, Sean discussed his feelings about “Watching the Wheels.” “Whenever I talk about Double Fantasy with anyone, the most common favorite is ‘Watching the Wheels,’” he said. 

“It was actually my favorite song as a kid, too,” Sean added. “I used to listen to it over and over and over again, and I didn’t know what it was about at the time. Looking back on it, it’s clearly about that time. Taking that time off and just being a house dad. And people may be saying, ‘Why did you stop being a rock star?’ And him saying essentially, ‘I’m happier than I was when I was doing that, because I’m at home, I’ve got a family and I’m doing what’s important, and it’s more important.’”

Sean compared “Watching the Wheels” to an antireligious song from the album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. “Which I think he was touching upon with ‘God,’ that love and family are ultimately more important than anything else, and I think that’s true,” he opined. “I think anyone would say that ultimately in the end, what counts is the people you love.” His words recall the lyrics of The Beatles’ “The End.”

“Watching the Wheels” might be derivative but Sean felt the song had an important meaning.





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