Skip to comments.Did the composer of (perhaps) the most secular song ever written, later disavow that song?
Posted on 03/23/2012 10:31:38 AM PDT by NYer
Growing up I listened to a lot of music. And, like a lot of teenagers, I didn’t pay much attention to the words, they were just another instrument in the whole melody of the song. As I got older, I started paying attention to the words and was often shocked at what I had been humming.
Like many people my age, one of my favorite songs was John Lennon’s “Imagine.” A beautiful melody, in a thoughtful and meditative tone. But oh the words! When I finally got around to paying attention to them, I stopped listening to the song. For in it, Lennon imagines, with approval, a world without God, religion, or country. In effect no piety, no loyalties. He also dismissed the idea of heaven, hell, and more than implies that religion, faith and God are the source of violence, greed and disunity. Here are some of the lyrics:
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 life in peace
You, 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 ….etc.
The song become quite the ballad of the secular humanists, and though peaceful and serene in its cadences, was a real slap in the face to faith, religion, Church, Country, piety, patriotism and the free market economy. The song reached beyond secular humanism, more than implicitly endorsing atheistic Communism, or at least Socialism in its dream of “no possessions.”
In effect the song says to faith and to all holding the other traditional values above, “Your day is over, you have caused evil, and we are moving toward a utopian paradise without you. You are not invited for you are the problem.”
Yes, there it was: Imagine, perhaps the most secular and radical song ever written, dripping with contempt, deconstructionist, revolutionary, and reductionist, a Magna Carta for secular humanism, and Communism.
And yet, it would seem John Lennon either disavowed the song, or never meant it in the first place. In an interview given shortly before his death, perhaps his last, he says some remarkable things that indicate a very different John Lennon than the song portrays.
I do not read, and will not even mention, the magazine in which the interview originally appeared (in 1980). But am quoting a secondary source which references that final interview. It is an interview that seems largely forgotten, since Lennon’s murder wholly changed the conversation and froze his image in place as the “60s radical.” It would seem he was far from that when he died. I am only here quoting a small part of the article, which you can read in its entirety here: Stop Imagining
Here are the pertinent excerpts:
In his definitive song, Imagine….[Lennon] famously dreams of a world with no possessions. The mature Lennon explicitly disavowed such naïve sentiments: I worked for money and I wanted to be rich….What I used to be is guilty about money. Because I thought money was equated with sin. I dont know. I think I got over it, because I either have to put up or shut up, you know. If Im going to be a monk with nothing, do it. Otherwise, if I am going to try and make money, make it. Money itself isnt the root of all evil.
The man who famously called for imagining a world with No religion also jettisoned his anti-theism. People got the image I was anti-Christ or anti-religion, he said. Im not at all. Im a most religious fellow. Im religious in the sense of admitting there is more to it than meets the eye. Im certainly not an atheist.
Even more shocking to the idea of Lennon as a secular leftist, or a deep thinker, the man rejected evolution. Nor do I think we came from monkeys, by the way, he insisted. Thats another piece of garbage. What the hells it based on? We couldntve come from anythingfish, maybe, but not monkeys. I dont believe in the evolution of fish to monkeys to men. Why arent monkeys changing into men now? Its absolute garbage.
……His final interviews make clear he was above all concerned with his family. Im not here for you,he said, speaking to his fans. Im here for me and [Yoko] and the baby. He revered the institution of marriage, explaining how much it meant to get the state approving his union with Ono. [R]ituals are important, no matter what we thought as kids.
So nowadays its hip not to be married. But Im not interested in being hip. 
So there it is, the revolutionary, it would seem, either reconsidered, or never fully embraced the radicalism of the song “Imagine.” Elsewhere in the article he is quoted as saying, Its easier to shout Revolution and Power to the people than it is to look at yourself and try to find out whats real inside you and what isnt, when youre pulling the wool over your own eyes. Thats the hardest one.
I do not hold John Lennon up as anything other than he was, a singer and composer, and quite a good one at that. I personally cannot stand it when we elevate movie stars, and entertainers to the status of cultural and political experts. But given the fact that others do, it is worth noting that one of the icons of the secular humanist movement and the radical left, made something of a journey back to traditional values, family, faith, and personal accountability.
I do not sanction everything Lennon says in the article, I only note the journey he made and claim the hope that Lennon did not die the radical atheist some thought him to be. I pray too others will and are making the journey he apparently did.
I remember reading an article about John Lennon’s faith and it stated that right before he died John and Yoko were having fights and several of his friends weren’t speaking to him because all he would talk about was Jesus and his faith in Christ.
I don’t know how true the story is, but the article was well researched and interviewed a friend of his at the time who later became a Christian, so there may be some validity to the story. I certainly hope so.
(It still works, Lennon was 40 when he was killed. Obviously by then he had found a brain.)
How the heck does one not know those words?!?
“We All Live In A Yellow Coupe DeVille”
It has been said that artists speak and critics will explain to you
what they said,
what they meant to say,
and what they should have meant to say.
“...Lennon was 40 when he was killed. Obviously by then he had found a brain.”
“Life begins at 40.” - John Lennon (1940-1980)
I was in my mid forties when i took the time to “hear” the words. i was horrified.
I remember when I was a kid my mother used to sing a song to me to get me to eat my vegetables.
“All I am say..ing... Is give peas a chance”
All I am say..ing... Is give peas a chance
My mother tried the same thing on me except it was lima beans. Didn't work. :0)
“If one is twenty and not a liberal one has no heart. If one is forty and not a conservative one has no brain.’’— Winston Churchill.
And you absolutely 100% know that he’s there, how?
John Lennon did great harm in his lifetime, regardless if he came to Christ in the end, or not. We must all hope he did, but my opinion, not worth the electrons it’s written on, are that he did not.
I don’t know about that. If your brain works at 25, or 15, or 10 (when I first learned about union violence), you become a conservative then, regardless of your heart.
And mine’s pretty big. But I am no fool and have always been conservative.
I was a Reagan Democrat. Turned 18 the year Ron was first elected . Grew up in an Old Democratic house hold [back when the Democratic Party was all about the working man]. Reagan realized that the Democratic Party left the working class man [once they secured his union support] because they found a dumber mind set to exploit. The Welfare state. I had a brain at 18 when I first heard Ronald Reagan speak. Might have had it earlier, but Ron asked to open it politically.
We all do harm in our lifetime. Mine had nowhere near the bandwidth of Lennons’ life yet I grieve at the harm I have done. John Lennon's life was more conspicuous than the rest of ours but he was no more or less flawed then anyone else, no more or less human than anyone else. When he is judged it will be by ONLY his and THE WHOLE of his own life. There will be no other standard present by which to set his life in relief; that is, Hitler will not be present nor will you. We will be alone when we are Judged and we will be judged by our deeds and our repentence.
You might have noticed that I said this was only my opinion. God hasn’t asked my advice about the matter.
That said, I DO have an opinion, and I have stated it. I also have done harm, but it was on an individual level, not on a vast social scale, as did Mr. Lennon.
I didn’t like him when he was alive; he didn’t improve with death. Nevertheless, I hope that he did repent and find salvation before he passed.
And having a brain didn’t make your heart hard. Dit it? :)
“You might have noticed that I said this was only my opinion. God hasnt asked my advice about the matter.”
You might have noticed that I commented upon your opinion. You might have noticed that I said nothing about God seeking advice from you.
You might have noticed that my point in response to your opinion was that Mr.Lennons’ vast scale of damage to Human Kind won’t in any manner shape or form be nearby and handy to you when God ia inquiring into your sojourn upon His good earth...but you didn’t. Ah well....