Remembering John Lennon on his 78th birthday with a gift

John Lennon would have turned 78 today, but he gave us the gift last Friday with the re-release of his 1971 album Imagine, this time like never before.

John Lennon: Imagine: The Ultimate Box Set spreads 140 songs over four CDs and two Blu-ray discs, offering so-called "Ultimate Mixes” that allegedly provide "whole new levels of sonic depth, definition and clarity."

The set includes Raw Studio Mixes, 5.1 surround sound mixes and a "Quadrasonic Album Mix." (Quad was a fad in the '70s, dividing music into four channels and requiring four speakers to enjoy.)

There are also outtakes and audio montages that detail how each song progressed from demo to master via instructions, rehearsals, recordings and studio chatter.

Engineer Rob Stevens says he found "tape boxes that have labeling that's unclear, misleading or missing entirely. There's a one-inch eight-track that says nothing more on the Ascot Sound label than John Lennon, the date and the engineer, with 'DEMO' on the spine. No indication of what was on the tape. One delicate transfer to digital later, the 'Imagine' demo, subsequently enhanced, appears within this comprehensive set. It was true serendipity.”

John Lennon once discussed the idea for his classic "Imagine":

"The idea came like as a child song, you know. And I wanted to keep it so a child could understand it. I sort of think of it as 'Working Class Hero' only in child language, you know. It's the same story in a way, but it just sort of says it with, you know, with powder paint."

Last Friday also saw the re-release of the films Imagine and Gimme Some Truth, along with Imagine John, a book compiled and curated by Yoko Ono.

In celebration of Lennon's birthday, the annual lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavík, Iceland will take place tonight (Tuesday) at 8 p.m. local time (3:00 CT).

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