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 ...

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas