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Quote of the Day: Imagine That!
I lost this post in the ether for awhile. I’m hoping it goes back to the Main Feed where it was when it disappeared. But it’s probably going back to the Members’ Feed. If you’ve already seen it, just skip over it. Sorry.
Has there ever been a more perfect expression of hippy-dippy, utopian thinking than John Lennon’s Imagine?
I will be discussing only the lyrics, so if you want to hear the melody as well, the link following this paragraph will take you straight to YouTube. There you’ll find Lennon singing Imagine (and chewing gum while he sings), accompanied by his partner in countercultural amusements, Yoko Ono, who is beating on a drum.
Imagine by John Lennon
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today.
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living in peace.
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world.
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.
In the past 50 or so years since its release, Imagine has become an anthem for people with an above-average capacity for, oh, feeling things and stuff. Just last March, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) was feeling a bit peckish and cooped up because of coronavirus restrictions, so she called on her celebrity friends to help her sing Imagine. Zoom or some such app allows each celebrity to stand in his or her living room and sing a line or two from Imagine.
What sounds perfectly dreadful is actually mildly amusing. There is a curious pleasure in listening to tuneless voices trying to carry a tune — and clueless minds suggesting that Communism will fix all of mankind’s ills. (Lennon once called Imagine “virtually the Communist Manifesto.”)
In Imagine, Lennon suggests that if our imaginations were as finely developed as his, we would be able to let go of our emotional attachment to our religion, our citizenships, and our property. When we do that, Lennon says, there will be no more wars, no more greed, no more hunger, and the earth will be awash with peace and understanding. Hell, yeah!
Let’s imagine, then, what we would have to do to create a world without religion. First, we would have to try to erase the religious past by censoring the writings of Isaiah, Jesus, and Gandhi. Then we would have to burn all copies of Paradise Lost, the Divine Comedy, A Christmas Carol, and a few million other works in which religion plays a role.
We would also need to repurpose Chartres Cathedral and the thousands of other cathedrals, synagogues, and mosques around the world into low-cost housing, indoor soccer arenas, and soup kitchens (for the out-of-work priests, ministers, youth directors, choir leaders, Hindu priests, and Imams).
Since the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, pictured above, is not much good for anything other than a place of worship, we would have to dismantle it piece by piece. Architects, sculptors, and stonemasons have been building the Sagrada Familia for the past 140 years (and still have six years to go), so it would take, oh, about 20 years to dismantle it. But we could use the same stonemasons who built the cathedral to reverse engineer their work to take it apart. That would destroy one of the world’s great works of art, of course, to the detriment of hundreds of generations to come. But if the whole world will live in peace if we erase religion from our consciousness, I guess it’s worth it. The world will live in peace, won’t it?
We would also have to make some minor adjustments if we wanted to build a world without national borders, though it might not be as easy as it seems. There probably would be a few million troublemakers who would resist having their national borders erased, so we would just have to shoot them. Sometimes the easiest solution is the best.
In all this, Lennon matches his puny individual intelligence against the accumulated wisdom of the race, who have declared, by their actions, that religions and states are vitally important to the functioning of human society. I’ll have to admit that the man has a serious amount of chutzpah.
When I first heard Imagine in 1971, I was quite taken with Lennon’s idea that if we didn’t own things, we wouldn’t have “greed or hunger.” Imagine! No one owns anything! Everyone owns everything. What a concept! I wanted to be in the vanguard of this awesome idea, so I drove to Lennon’s fancy-schmancy apartment in New York and knocked on his door. When Lennon opened the door, I said “Big fan” and brushed right past him and Yoko Ono into our tastefully decorated apartment. John asked me what the hell I thought I was doing. I told him I was staying overnight and I’d appreciate a couple of our eggs in the morning. John told me to get out.
But John, I asked plaintively, what about your lyrics? You told us to “imagine no possessions.” John, I get it. It’s all about the brotherhood of man, just as you say. No greed or hunger. I imagined it all, just as you asked, and it was a beautiful thing.
He told me he was lying about those stupid ideas because he knew how naive and ignorant his fans were — and there were royalties to be made off them.
That made me so angry that I blurted out that I was now taking Paul’s side in their dispute and that Yoko’s art sucked big time. Yoko might have attacked me, but she had returned to her latest art project, a glass hammer lying atop an artfully arranged pile of jockey straps. Quite fetching, I thought, and tres provoking.
I didn’t have time to tell her that, though, because John was shoving me out of our apartment. Before I could turn, he had slammed the door and was locking it up tight, as if that apartment was his own and not mankind’s.
Imagine.Published in General
I’ll skip over the obvious point that what the song’s lyrics promote is itself a belief system that has all the attributes of a religion that as you point out will give people reason to kill those who don’t go along.
What those lyrics cause me to imagine is a life not worth living. A life without meaning, without purpose, without accomplishment, without connection to other people, without love, without passion, without the satisfaction of doing your part to improve the lives of others. I imagine a bunch of people just drifting around not caring about anything.
Imagine portrays a world that sounds like Hell.
What have we ever done to you that you would link to something Yoko Ono is involved in? Why do you hate us? 😁🤣
This is the Quote of the Day. Imagine that! If you have a hippy-dippy quotation you would like to impose upon us, or something better you would like to share, our sign-up sheet awaits. The next three days are currently open, as are a few days later in the month. Have some fun. Share a quotation.
And here we got to the fun part. Pure fiction, Kent?
Imagine a world without “Imagine”!
Image is, and always has been, an evil song.
It could be worse. She could have been singing.
Great post, Kent. We were in some museum and they had a video of Ono doing something or other. It was stylishly in black and white. I think you had to don headphones for the audio. I have no idea what she was doing; I couldn’t get away fast enough.
True, although I believe the technical term is caterwauling.
She actually does caterwaul on one of her “art projects” It’s not a pleasant sound.
Pure fiction, ‘hant, although Ono’s art installation could easily be mistaken for some of her actual projects.
“Imagine” really is the perfect Leftist anthem. It’s filled with dreamy language, positive-sounding phrases, and even claims the word “dreamer” for the Leftist version of having a dream for one’s life.
Lennon was smart. But smart Leftists are remarkably foolish. (You have to be foolish to ignore reality so well as Leftists do.) So it’s no surprise that once you examine the words of “Imagine” with any sort of clarity of thought, you discover they are silliest sort of claptrap – the meanderings of a clever man-child. They make no more sense than the lyrics to another of his hits, “Come Together.” But at least with “Come Together” Lennon admitted the words were meaningless.
I like to think Lennon might have come around from this foolish stage, had he only been allowed to live. Just “imagine” what that might have been like.
This virtual choir performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria is a good antidote to “Imagine.” I listen to this once or twice a day. I just love it.
Fortunately, John’s son Sean has taken a very different political direction in his thinking. If you haven’t already, take a look at his Twitter account: https://twitter.com/seanonolennon?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor
Songwriter, I like your word “man-child” to describe John Lennon. It just fits him perfectly. The song is dreamy claptrap, though, isn’t it? However, I can understand why a certain kind of dreamy lefty might be attracted to it. The song has had a large following for the past 50 years.
His marriage to Ono was a marriage made in Heaven.
Kent, that photo of the lovely couple almost caused me to lose my breakfast. Please give us more Bob!
Ha ha. That photo might haunt a person’s dreams. By the way, it first appeared as the cover shot on Rolling Stone.
I think he did. After he retired from music in 1975, he turned his focus to his family, spending his time cooking and raising a child and living a private domestic life. This clearly had an effect on him, and when he came out of retirement in 1980 it was with a batch of songs about domestic contentment and love for his wife and son. There are also reports from his personal assistant at the time that he expressed admiration for Ronald Reagan.
To me, the most tragic aspect of his early death wasn’t the fact that we didn’t get any more music from him. It’s the fact that he had only just found a way out of his tumultuous younger days, not to mention his shallow and lazy politics, and had discovered the joys of living a decent life. I like the music he gave us in 1980, but I wish he had stayed retired and out of the limelight, for his own sake and his family’s.
The cathedral picture is nice, but it’s no Bob.
But Arahant, isn’t that cathedral something? I think Sagrada Familia is the most impressive cathedral in the world — by far. Chartres and Notre Dame are pikers by comparison. Look at the size of the people standing in front.
Put it on your bucket list if you haven’t already. The best part of it doesn’t show in the phot. That’s the area surrounding the facade. Full of statues, etc.
Other buildings in Barcelona are designed by Gaudi, the same architect who designed Sagrada Familia
I agree. The interior is awesome, but those statues on the facade, plain white, are exquisite!
Especially for those with trypophobia.
I suspect it would be quite an experience to see it, but I don’t think it’s beautiful. It’s too much. It’s too fiddly. I like cleaner lines. The point may be to try to be beyond human scale, of course. I’m sure it does that.
The song’s appeal is the same as a lot of fairy tales. Wishful thinking is a powerful drug.
It could have been much worse Jim. I think that it might have been in Rolling Stone (inside, not on the cover), there was a full frontal nude of Yoko.
It was the only time in my life that I seriously considered celibacy…
I included a photo of the Sagrada Familia in our community newsletter as an example of architectural design by committee; everyone got to include his personal favorite feature.
That picture of John and Yoko with the post is just so revolting. Was someone making fun of them or did they choose to depict their relationship that way ?
In the picture, John really does look like he thinks he’s two and Yoko is his mommy.
I remember being baffled that at the end of The Killing Fields, a very powerful film about the Khmer Rouge regime, that Imagine was used over the closing credits, a song that would be quite at home in Communist re-education camps.