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Why John Lennon's son finally performed 'Imagine' for the first time

Julian Lennon had vowed to only perform the song if it was the "End of the World." But the war in Ukraine has changed that.

WASHINGTON — After years of avoiding the request, John Lennon's son, Julian, has performed his father's worldwide hit "Imagine." 

Selected as the closing segment for Global Citizen's Stand Up for Ukraine fundraiser event in Warsaw on Saturday, the 59-year-old, accompanied by guitarist Nuno Bettencourt, performed a heartfelt rendition of the song often recalled in times of war or conflict, with its lyrics calling for unity and peace.

The event culminated in more than $10 billion worth of pledges to support Ukrainian refugees, according to Global Citizen.

On his YouTube channel, Lennon explained why he has previously avoided publicly performing the song, and why the situation in Ukraine had provoked him to finally give-in to years of requests. 

"I had always said, that the only time I would ever consider singing ‘Imagine' would be if it was the ‘End of the World,'" Lennon wrote. "The War on Ukraine is an unimaginable tragedy. As a human, and as an artist, I felt compelled to respond in the most significant way I could."

"[John Lennon's] lyrics reflect our collective desire for peace worldwide," the post continued. "Because within this song, we’re transported to a space, where love and togetherness become our reality, if but for a moment in time."

Since Russia invaded Ukraine more than six weeks ago, more than 4 million people have fled Ukraine, with more than half going to Poland and others heading to countries like Moldova, Romania and Hungary. 

An additional 6.5 million have been displaced internally. Those numbers are expected to swell as the war drags on, the World Bank said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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