100 songs that changed history

Time Out explores the music that changed the course of world events

  • 5

    ‘Imagine’ – John Lennon (1971)

    Chosen by Bettany Hughes, research fellow at King’s College London, fellow Of the Historical Association, New York Times bestselling author and TV/radio broadcaster

    Bettany says: ‘“Imagine” is the first globally significant song showing a basic, humane desire for peace. It wasn’t a protest song; it was an aspirational piece of music, and that’s why it became so popular so quickly.

    For the first time, there was this feeling that you could have one global anthem which everybody could share because the motivation behind it was this universal desire that wasn’t linked to a particular nation, state, civilisation or religion. Before that, there were plenty of localised equivalents, but this is the first genuinely global song.’