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.

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  1. KentForrester Coolidge
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    That picture of John and Yoko with the post is just so revolting. Did someone making fun of them do that or did they choose to depict their relationship that way ?

    Ansonia, it first appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine on January, 1981. Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980, only hours after the photograph was taken.

    Lennon said that it perfectly portrayed the relationship between him and Ono. 

    • #31
  2. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Percival (View Comment):
    It could be worse. She could have been singing.

    What was the cartoon version of her screeching something like “this is my happy face, this is my unhappy face” and they both looked the same?

    • #32
  3. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    “Wasn’t it a millionaire who said imagine no possessions? – Elvis Costello

    ”Step right into the burning hell
    Where some of the best-known enemies of mankind dwell
    Mr. Freud with his dreams, Mr. Marx with his ax
    See the raw hide lash rip the skin from their backs” – Bob Dylan “My Own Version of You”

    • #33
  4. I. M. Fine Coolidge
    I. M. Fine
    @IMFine

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    That picture of John and Yoko with the post is just so revolting. Did someone making fun of them do that or did they choose to depict their relationship that way ?

    Ansonia, it first appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine on January, 1981. Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980, only hours after the photograph was taken.

    Lennon said that it perfectly portrayed the relationship between him and Ono.

    As I recall, Yoko had her name officially added as a co-writer to “Imagine” in 2017. And apparently, much of the lyric content did come from her previously-written poetry, which Lennon admitted before he died. From The Guardian, in announcing the revised lyric credit:

    “The song’s central lyrical structure [of “Imagine”], a series of wistful, utopian scenarios, was inspired by Ono’s poetry collection Grapefruit, which featured lines like: “Imagine your head filled with pencil leads / Imagine one of them broken.” Lennon had acknowledged her contribution in a 1980 interview, saying: “A lot of it – the lyric and the concept – came from Yoko. But those days I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution. But it was right out of Grapefruit, her book.”

    • #34
  5. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Ansonia (View Comment):

    That picture of John and Yoko with the post is just so revolting. Did someone making fun of them do that or did they choose to depict their relationship that way ?

    Ansonia, it first appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine on January, 1981. Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980, only hours after the photograph was taken.

    Lennon said that it perfectly portrayed the relationship between him and Ono.

    High e-e-w-w-w factor with that photo.

    • #35
  6. Mountie Coolidge
    Mountie
    @Mountie

    The Eagles “Love will keep us alive”  is probably one of the more inane of their songs. The single line  “when we’re hungry love will keep us alive” always brings a smile to my face. I don’t know about you guys but my wife and I are  kind of into  calories, carbohydrates and fluids  for sustenance.

    • #36
  7. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Mountie (View Comment):

    The Eagles “Love will keep us alive” is probably one of the more inane of their songs. The single line “when we’re hungry love will keep us alive” always brings a smile to my face. I don’t know about you guys but my wife and I are kind of into calories, carbohydrates and fluids for sustenance.

    Protein. Gotta have protein.

    • #37
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