John Otway 'a better lyricist than Dylan'

THE NATION'S favourite song lyric is "Imagine", by John Lennon, according to an unorthodox poll by the BBC to mark National Poetry Day. Many Lennon and McCartney songs were nominated by the public but Lennon's solo hit from 1971 was the clear winner.

THE NATION'S favourite song lyric is "Imagine", by John Lennon, according to an unorthodox poll by the BBC to mark National Poetry Day. Many Lennon and McCartney songs were nominated by the public but Lennon's solo hit from 1971 was the clear winner.

Less clear was how many votes it takes to make it into the top ten and whether fans were colluding to vote repeatedly for their favourites. Robbie Williams, former Take That member, had two songs in the all-time top ten and an obscure 1978 B-side by John Otway made it to number seven. Bob Dylan, whose lyrics appear in anthologies of poetry and are analysed by academics, failed to make the top ten.

The BBC refused to say how many people took part in the vote but said it would have been impossible to rig. "We took ... postcodes when they voted and checked with the John Otway votes to make sure they didn't all come from the same place," said a BBC spokeswoman.

"Most of John Otway's votes came by e-mail and it seems he has a lot of fans who are online. There were also a lot of people who voted for 'Beware of the Flowers' who didn't know who had written it." Otway, who is a favourite on the festival circuit and sometimes uses the comedian Attila the Stockbroker to translate his songs into German for any German tourists in his audience, was ecstatic when The Independent told him the news yesterday.

"Wow, I beat Dylan," he said. "That's brilliant. I think it must come from playing over 3,000 gigs and singing 'Beware of the Flowers' nearly every night. I obviously have incredibly loyal fans, which is what happens when you have the kind of micro-stardom that I have."

The BBC said Dylan could have made it into the top ten if his fans had all voted for the same song. However, 15 Dylan songs received votes - with "Mr Tambourine Man" getting the most, to put it among the top 20 favourites. Those voting clearly felt that sounding like gibberish is no drawback for a good lyric and put Lennon's nonsense "I am the Walrus" - the original of which sold at auction last week for £80,000 - in the top ten alongside the undeniably silly "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.

Outside the top ten singer-songwriters with reputations for wordsmithery, such as Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, were also more contemporary singers such as Billy Bragg and Jarvis Cocker.

A few votes were also gained for some very silly songs, including "Let's do it", by Victoria Wood. It includes the line "Beat me on the bottom with a Woman's Weekly".

Nation's favourite lyrics

1. Imagine John Lennon

2. Angels Robbie Williams

3. Bohemian Rhapsody Queen

4. I am the Walrus The Beatles

5. Millennium Robbie Williams

6. Yesterday The Beatles

7. Beware of the Flowers John Otway

8. Sit Down James

9. Nights in White Satin Moody Blues

10. Stardust Hoagy Carmichael

"Imagine", John Lennon

Imagine there's no HeavenIt's easy if you tryNo Hell below usAbove us only skyImagine all the peopleliving for today ...

"Angels", Robbie Williams

And through it all she offers me protectiona lot of love and affectionwhether I'm right or wrong and down the waterfall wherever it may take me ...

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering