A Levin cousin of the late John Lennon this week kindly shared memories of the time they met one afternoon during The Beatles' tour of New Zealand in June, 1964.

It was one of those strange experiences, interviewing a close relative of someone so famous. It made the world seem small to realise John Lennon had family who lived down the road.

There's no reason why he shouldn't, of course, but it just seemed a little strange when the realisation hit that a mythical figure like Lennon was actually a real person. Flesh and blood. With family, aunts, uncles and cousins.

It brought back another memory. Back in the day, at intermediate school, a teacher gave us a project to copy down the lyrics to a song, any song, as a study of popular music.


Flicking through the parents' record collection at home, there was a cloudy grey album with a man wearing round spectacles that used to get played a lot.

Most album covers had the song lyrics on a sleeve inside the record cover, so I jotted down the lyrics to a song called Imagine and took it to school.

It was embarrassing when other kids had written down lyrics from bands like Talking Heads, AC/DC and other more modern songs. Even though it was the 1980s, I felt like I had missed the brief and was uncool.

But I remember the teacher singled me out, saying she reckoned Imagine was one of the greatest songs ever written. So those lyrics, and their meaning, stuck.

The tragic death of George Floyd in the US at the hands of a policeman three weeks ago, and the protests that followed, have shone a spotlight on racial injustices around the world - existing injustices and also from the past.

The lyrics to Lennon's famous song, and their meaning - however ambitious - have never seemed more appropriate. Sing along.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky
Imagine all the people
Livin' for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Livin' life in peace
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one