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Friday, October 8, 1999 Published at 22:26 GMT 23:26 UK


Lennon song tops all-time poll

The nation's favourite lyricist

Pop legend John Lennon's solo hit Imagine has topped a BBC poll to find the Nation's Favourite Song Lyric.

The poignant classic, which shot to No1 after the former Beatle's murder in 1980, beat the Robbie Williams chart-topper Angels into the top spot.

The announcement was made by presenter Griff Rhys Jones during a special BBC One programme marking the sixth National Poetry Day on the eve of what would have been Lennon's 59th birthday.

[ image: Rhys Jones: Lennon song 'deserves to win']
Rhys Jones: Lennon song 'deserves to win'
Rhys Jones was joined in the studio by Mariella Frostrup, Billy Bragg, Eddi Reader, Benjamin Zephaniah and Ladysmith Black Mambazo for the unveiling of the winners.

"I am thrilled that Imagine is the winning song lyric," said Rhys Jones.

"It is the sort of lyric that people instantly recognise and know what it means and for that reason deserves to win.

"What is staggering is that with the many hundreds of different songs nominated and every decade of the last 60 years represented, it is clear that the British public has enormously wide tastes in music and a healthy appetite for the poetry of popular song."

[ image: Runner-up: Popular lyricist Robbie Williams]
Runner-up: Popular lyricist Robbie Williams
The poll result is a double triumph for pop heart-throb Robbie Williams. Another former No 1, his anthem Millennium, is at No 5.

The Top 10 was full of surprises - not just for the songs that made it, but also for the classics that didn't.

George Gershwin's Someone To Watch Over Me and Jerome Kern's All The Things You Are didn't make the list, but stood up well against Abba and Oasis.

Tracks from The Rolling Stones and The Who failed to make the Top 50, while relative newcomers Massive Attack ranked higher than both Madonna and Michael Jackson.

Songwriters best known for one or two classic tracks, such as Don McClean with American Pie, fared better than stars like Bob Dylan who received many more votes, but were divided between several classic tracks.

[ image: Even the Teletubbies even made it into the poll]
Even the Teletubbies even made it into the poll
Singer-songwriters and social commentators who are already thought of by many as being poets, like Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, were well represented and were joined by newer voices like Billy Bragg, Pulp's Jarvis Cocker and the Manic Street Preachers.

There are also some glimpses into the lives of some very singular souls out there - like the one vote for Victoria Wood's line "Beat me on the bottom with a Woman's Weekly".

Fans of Monty Python and the Teletubbies were also in evidence, as were admirers of current chart toppers S Club 7 and Ricky Martin.

Votes were collected by telephone and via the BBC Education website between 22 September and 6 October.

The Top 10 songs

1. Imagine - John Lennon (J Lennon)

2. Angels - Robbie Williams (Williams and Chambers)

3. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen (Freddie Mercury)

4. I Am The Walrus - The Beatles (Lennon and McCartney)

5. Millennium - Robbie Williams (Williams, Chambers, Barry)

6. Yesterday - The Beatles (Lennon and McCartney)

7. Beware Of The Flowers - John Otway (John Otway)

8. Sit Down - James (Booth/Glennie/Whelan/Gott)

9. Nights In White Satin - Moody Blues Justin Hayward)

10. Stardust - Hoagy Carmichael (Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish)

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