Monday, January 02, 2012

WWJLD: What Would John Lennon Do?

Usually I like New Years for no other reason than I get a 45-week reprieve from the constant drone of fatuous Christmas music. So imagine my consternation when this special day was marred by the criminal butchery of one of the great secular songs of all time.

Imagine. Cee-Lo Green changed the lyrics of the Lennon classic from "No religion, too" to "All religions, too."  Aside from the obvious question, why would anybody change the lyrics to any song that is perennially at the top of any "Best Song Ever" list, but why change the lyric to mean the EXACT opposite of the writer's intention?

Lennon wrote "Imagine" as a secular, pacifist, socialist theme, like it or not. Imagine indeed. And I would add that Lennon was a better songwriter than any lyricist who would ever think to construct a Christmas carol. Imagine the heart-rending furor that would erupt if someone changed the lyrics of one our beloved Christmas carols and switched the word "Nature" for God or Jesus? The horror!

The redeeming issue here, however, is that the public has risen up to denounce Cee-Lo Green for his misstep and he has even been forced to remove his Twitter account over the bruhaha. Writers should write, and performers should perform. Remember that, Mr. Green.

Heres the infamous video from New Years Eve (Fast forward to 3:55 for the song):

And Cee-Lo in one of his better moments, gotta love the pink zoot suit: (explicit lyrics):


Malcolm said...

I think the message Cee-Lo was trying to send by changing the lyric was one of religious tolerance (similar to the "Coexist" bumper sticker). However, he shouldn't have changed the lyric because like you said, it alters the meaning intended by John Lennon. What Cee-Lo should do is write a song with a message of religious tolerance.

Tony said...

Good point, Malcolm. "Imagine" is not about religious tolerance-- I never thought about it that way.

Green is a great entertainer and I think his intentions were positive-- he was just a little bit off base in this particular situation.