NMPA CEO David Israelite presented the addition as an opportunity to correct an historical oversight which Lennon admitted in 1980 was the result of “selfish” behavior on his part. “It is my distinct honor to correct the record 48 years later and recognize Yoko Ono as a co-writer of the NMPA Centennial Song ‘Imagine’ and to present her with this well-deserved credit,” Israelite said.
His announcement took place at the NMPA’s annual meeting in New York City, where Ono was on hand with her son, Sean Lennon. At the ceremony, Israelite aired a 1980 BBC interview in which Lennon discussed the creation of “Imagine.” “That should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because a lot of it – the lyric and the concept – came from Yoko,” Lennon said at the time. “But those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution.”
Lennon went on to acknowledge that his failure to credit Ono was illustrative of a sexist double-standard. “If it had been Bowie, I would have put ‘Lennon-Bowie,'” he said.
Consequently, the NMPA moved to acknowledge Ono’s contribution to one of Lennon’s best-known solo singles. “While things may have been different in 1971 [when ‘Imagine’ was written],” Israelite said, “today I am glad to say things have changed.”
The process of adding Ono’s credit is ongoing. A rep for NMPA told Rolling Stone that “we currently do not know of any opposition to this update.”
It has been a busy year for Ono. She’s executive producing a film about her relationship with Lennon, and recently collaborated on music with Black Lips and Moonlandingz. The label Secretly Canadian is in the middle of a reissue campaign that will make several of Ono’s albums from the late 1960s and 1970s available digitally for the first time.
Ono spoke briefly as she accepted the Centennial Award from the NMPA. “This is the best time of my life,” she said.