So on New Year’s Eve, I was staying with friends who don’t have broadcast TV. This means I was saved from the ritual of torturing myself by watching NYE programming. So no Ryan Seacrest being unforgivably smug, Katy Perry shooting crap out of her bra, Jackson Browne lighting a guitar on fire and swinging it at a police horse, etc.
I also missed Cee Lo Green (you know, the “F___ You” guy, one half of Gnarls Barkley, etc) covering John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Who cares, right? Well, Cee Lo had the bright idea of changing the lyric “And no religion, too” to “and all religion’s true.” There are articles about it all over the place, and I can’t link to them for some reason, so just Google it.
Needless to say, the internet went a little crazy and 2012’s faux outrage virginity was taken.
For the record, I think Cee Lo is a fine singer, and his opinions on religion mean exactly zero to me.
But what troubles me is:
1. You don’t change people’s lyrics. To quote Flea on “The Simpsons”, “Our lyrics are like our children, man.” They aren’t yours to do anything with except sing. No matter if they’re John Lennon, John Legend or Schizoid Johnny. Don’t do it.
2. It’s incredibly simplistic. People have been fighting about this for, you know, always. Countless throngs have died at the hands of someone who thought THEIR religion was the true one. If they’re ALL true, then God/Gods/No God has some ‘splainin’ to do. Cee Lo Green certainly has no insight on the matter.
3. The phrase “All religions true” can’t be. By their very nature, many faiths contradict each other in key ways. Christians believe Jesus is the son of God. Jews believe he was not. Jesus can not be both the son of God and not the son of God. The Hindu Vishnu, Muslim Allah, Rasta Jah and Scientology Xenu are wildly different. And if they did all exist, what does THAT mean? Do they all know each other? Do they hang out? Who brings the dessert to their crock pot parties?
4. Anyone who thinks this was some kind of desecration of Lennon’s ideals is barking up the wrong tree. Sure, he savaged religion in his writing and interviews, and would probably get Peter Grant to throw Cee Lo out a window for messing with his work. But reversing something he said into something that means the exact opposite doesn’t really have any impact. To say “all religions true” is making just as much of a mockery of organized belief as saying “God is a concept by which we measure our pain,” it just mocks it in a different way. Lennon believed that a world without religion would be a better place. Cee Lo thinks a world where every religion has the same standing would be the better place. Doesn’t that mean the same thing, just said a lot more lamely (lamer)?
(Also, John Lennon was, by all accounts, an asshole with a taste for women, drugs and tacky coats. The man wrote beautiful, timeless songs, but he was no guru. He’d tell you the same thing.)
Get outraged about people killing in the name of religion, not someone singing about it. What Cee Lo Green thinks about religion doesn’t matter and doesn’t deserve anyone’s anger. So FORGET YOU OOH-OOH-OOH!