Last night on American Idol Josh Ledet sang John Lennon’s classic ballad “Imagine” and Judge Randy Jackson asked him why he chose that song. Josh responded with something about inspiring lyrics. I too was surprised that someone who is very open about their faith and their church background would choose this particular song.
While the lyrics you talk about peace, love, tolerance, charity or anti-materialism all of which could be considered Christian values, the song is actually at its core anti-religious. You don’t have to go very far into the song to see this. After all the opening line is “Imagine there’s no heaven…” I did notice that Josh skip the verse with the line” imagine… no religion too” but he did sing the opening line which proposes that there is no heaven or hell.
It’s always seemed to me that the basic premise of the song was that most of the things that are wrong with this world are attributed both to religion and if we got rid of religion we could have all of that peace and love and brotherhood.
This song makes a good point. How many wars have been fought between Christians and Jews, Christians and Muslims, Jews and Muslims. This despite the fact that all three of those major religions espouse the remaining concepts of this song which are peace, love, brotherhood etc. History shows us even further that even within these major religions Protestants and Catholics have been a war with each other within Christianity for centuries. Sunni and Shiite Muslims are currently killing each other by the hundreds and thousands. At least the Reformed Jews and Orthodox Jews while they might disagree with each other vehemently don’t seem to be at war with one another at least not to the extent that the other intramural religious disagreements have turned to violence.
It’s not so much that religion itself is at fault for the ills of the world. It is religious hypocrisy that is at fault. Like I said before the core beliefs of these religions promote peace and brotherhood. However John Lennon’s lyrics do not denounce hypocrisy… They denounce religion in broad strokes.
There is also an undertone in the song denouncing nationalism and patriotism. Lines like” nothing to kill or die for” hint at nationalism and patriotism as being as guilty as religion in what’s wrong with the world. Again to a certain extent guilty as charged. We are a nation founded on freedom and we take great pride in that and are justified in making military sacrifices to defend freedom. But sometimes it’s our vision of freedom being imposed on others.
So anyway I’m always surprised when someone who is outwardly religious and/or patriotic endorses a song like “Imagine”. It is a very beautifully written song with a haunting melody and indeed inspiring lyrics with which I agree about 85% and I’m presuming it’s that similar 85% worth of inspiring lyrics that inspired Josh to choose that song. He did a wonderful job performing it.
But did he really pay attention to everything he was singing? Does he really believe that the world would be better off without religion and without pride in one’s country? My guess is he didn’t. I’ll give Josh an “A+” for performance and “D-” for song choice. If he wanted an inspirational song by a former Beatle that would’ve sent the same mood and shown off his vocal talents to the same degree he should’ve sang “Let It Be”.