Imagine singing the song as written.

Imagine: John Lennon (soundtrack)

Image via Wikipedia

When John Lennon wrote the song”Imagine”, it was his vision of what a peaceful more harmonious world might look like. And maybe parts of it could be considered naive or unrealistic but it was his sincere artistic vision. But although the mood of the song is hopeful and optimistic one line seems to trouble theists,

“Imagine there’s no countries… it isn’t hard to do…Nothing to kill or die for… and no religion too…”

Of course that’s not what Cee Lo  sang last night. The performance was not very good in the first place. I have to confess that no matter how many Gnarls Barkley songs I enjoy, singing is not  Green’s strong suit. But last night Cee Lo changed the lyric to “and all religion’s are true”. His reason for changing it was that he was trying to convey his desire for a” world where u could believe what u wanted that’s all.”Whats wrong with that? His sentiment was sincere and his idea sounds benign enough, and I agree that people should have the right believe whatever they want, even though that doesn’t mean they should.

I can’t speak for John Lennon but in his song he was talking about eliminating all of the things that separate us, oppress us, and the things that cause us to harm each other. He called out religion specifically in my view to highlight the fact that religion has been one of the forces that has contributed to the kind of violence and division that he imagines the world without in his song. So I don’t imagine John Lennon would be angry with Cee Lo  or any of the many other choirs and artists who’ve  used similar artistic licenses to change the lyrics to “and one religion too” or something along those lines. However, I think that the way these artists and people who intentionally target this verse in this song just further proves John Lennon’s point.  Some people are threatened by the thought of a world without religion. They are threatened by the notion that religion is not a force for good in the world and threatened by the idea that their beliefs may not be true. If not, why not change the other lyrics?

And the lyric doesn’t even make sense from a logical standpoint. All religions cannot be simultaneously true. Many of religions directly conflict with one another in addition to their many internal inconsistencies. And by imagining no heaven or hell in the first verse you’ve already eliminated what some would claim is the central truth of their faiths,and that’s before you’ve even gotten to the verse that seems to be causing so much reaction on twitter today.  Perhaps next time, we can imagine singing another song if we can’t identify with the songwriter’s vision.

Gnarls Barkley at the Mini V festival in Melbo...

Maybe he's craaaazay....Possibly.

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10 thoughts on “Imagine singing the song as written.

  1. Roseva says:

    Thank you for taking the words out of my mouth and putting them to such great use. I’m a Singer and I write music as well and I only sing songs that I can relate to and feel in my soul. If an artist agrees to sing a song with a strong message, they should be prepared for the backlash that can come with it.

  2. Emelyne says:

    Co-sign completely!

  3. brent mosher says:

    Maybe next year Lady GaGa could sing Dylan’s Gates of Eden.

  4. brent mosher says:

    Just forgot to hit the notify button last time.

  5. Danile says:

    Necessary commentary.

  6. Rahk says:

    I Co-Sign this also. What I do not understand is why Religion in America whoring itself out to anybody by any means. We now have religious rap, rock, dance teams, wrestling, dating sites, sports figures, action movie hero’s and more. I don’t understand why they stick to their “Old Time Religion.” Whenever something becomes popular among the secular crowd, it seems that some religion, mainly the Church will find a way to Christianize it. If something is to worldly they should simply leave it alone. In this case, sing another song, but don’t change another person’s vision to appease popular opinion.

  7. Darrell says:

    I agree with you, Theists are in such denial, the fear of public display of the truth is threatening.

  8. Chris says:

    Found your blog via the Atheist Blogroll (welcome!) and wanted to point you in the direction of the Atheist Blogmap to see if I could convince you to >submit a pin.

    If you really want to see “Imagine” butchered, check out the beating Dolly Parton and Elton John put on it. I shudder at the memory. Cee-Lo’s version doesn’t seem so insulting by comparison. I’d dig up the link for you, but I’m afraid it might start playing automatically and traumatize me all over again.

  9. Reason Being says:

    Many people are afraid to think that there isn’t someone up in the sky watching out for them. They find it hard to believe that people like us can find fulfillment in life without it. The problem is that so many of them refuse to even try and even look down on those of us that have come to an atheist conclusion. My life is much fuller once I realized that there is so much joy in philosophy, science, nature, etc.

  10. Im not sure what I feel about this I love Cee lo’s music shame he had to say that! Great post! If you get chance check out my blog at


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