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.
- Cee Lo Green Changes ‘Imagine’ Lyrics, Stokes Religious Controversy (huffingtonpost.com)