Lyrics and Lennon

It was on October 11, 1971, that a song named by Rolling Stones magazine as “the third greatest song of all time” was released. Since then, this song with a flowing piano melody and a supposed message of peace and love, has been covered by a myriad of recording artists, performed at some of the largest global events including the Olympics and Concerts for Peace and Hunger and has sold millions, gaining No. 1 status on U.S. and U.K. charts. The truth is  this “anthem” of sorts, John Lennon’s most successful single, “Imagine” cloaks dangerous and “explicitly secularist” lyrics in a palatable, soothing and welcoming ballad. Its impact and reach, both abroad and here in the United States, even back when America was considered to have a “more religious population” is unbelievable.

In this song, the listener is called upon to… Imagine there’s no heaven…no hell below us… Imagine all the people livin’ for today…Imagine there’s no countries…nothing to kill or die for…Imagine no possessions…and no religion too. According to several sources including Wikipedia, Lennon stated: “‘Imagine’, which says: ‘Imagine that there was no more religion, no more country, no more politics,’ is virtually The Communist Manifesto, even though I’m not particularly a Communist and I do not belong to any movement.” Even with this confession and though there was some backlash about some of the lyrics, especially, the “no religion too”, “Imagine” still took roots in society and became a global influence evidenced by the culture wars that we are engaged in. I contend that though there is much to be desired in the lyrics of the song, we must first start with the title. Imagine.

Imagine, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, is an intransitive verb having several meanings. Among them being: 1) to form a mental picture or image of , 2) to think or suppose; conjecture, 3) to have a notion of or about without adequate foundation; fancy or believe, 4) to employ the imagination.

Conjecture, they also state,  is an opinion or judgment based on inconclusive or incomplete evidence;  a supposition; an opinion formed on insufficient presumptive evidence; and as Merriam Webster says, it is  an inference formed without proof  or sufficient evidence. A notion is a belief or opinion or an impulse or whim whereas to fancy is to believe mistakenly or without evidence; to believe without being certain. As the Cambridge Dictionary so succinctly puts it, “ to imagine or think that something is so.”

It is apparent that both nationally and globally, countries and individuals have taken the word imagine and the message of the song which as one writer puts it, encourages “ an implied existentialism…where only humankind, within ourselves and among each other- can decide how to live and choose what matters.” It is no wonder that we are now living in a time where a man with size 12 feet can put on a pair of lady’s pumps, imagines he is a woman, be granted access to a woman’s bathroom and demand to be referred to as she/her. Lennon, by now, has found out that his notion of no heaven or hell was completely ludicrous and false. Likewise, all those who continue to ascribe to their vain imaginations will one day find themselves face to face with the true reality of heaven and hell. The only antidote to this being Romans 10:9-10, which is based on many infallible proofs.

By John Amanchukwu
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