John Lennon's “Imagine” was awarded the Centennial Song Award by the National Music Publishers Association June 14, but it was Yoko Ono who perhaps took the biggest honor when she was given a long overdue credit as co-writer of the iconic song thanks to the words of her late husband, Beatle John Lennon that were replayed during the event. The emotional moment brought Ono to tears, her son Sean Lennon, who attended the ceremony with her, said.
An NMPA spokesman said President & CEO David Israelite announced the honor to Ono by saying, “While things may have been different in 1971, today I am glad to say things have changed. So tonight, it is my distinct honor to correct the record some 48 years later, and recognize Yoko Ono as a co-writer of the NMPA Centennial Song 'Imagine' and to present Yoko Ono with this well-deserved credit.”
Ono, Sean Lennon and the crowd also heard John Lennon speaking in a vintage BBC interview talking about the song and why he should have credited Ono as co-writer. Lennon said hear her late husband's words brought his mother to tears. “Actually that should be credited as a Lennon-Ono song because a lot of it—the lyric and the concept—came from Yoko. But those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution. But it was right out of 'Grapefruit,' her book. There’s a whole pile of pieces about 'Imagine this' and 'Imagine that.'”
Sean Lennon later expressed his jubilant feelings on social media. “Proudest day of my life: The National Music Publishers Association just gave the Centennial (Song of The Century) Award to 'Imagine.' But WAIT! Surprise! They played an audio interview of my father saying (approximately) 'Imagine' should have been credited as a Lennon/Ono song,” he said in the beginning of a long post on his Facebook page about the event. “Cut to my mother welling up in tears, and then Patti and Jesse Smith played 'Imagine'! Patience is a virtue.”