Pleasantries first, Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all had a safe, fun-filled New Year’s celebration. I stayed home with my family and watched Cowboys & Aliens. Very enjoyable movie, although I am left wondering if it should have been Cowboys, Indians & Aliens. There sure were a lot of Apache in there. Anyhow, as per usual I’m getting off track.
Let’s talk New Year’s Eve faux pas, shall we?
The blogosphere is in the proverbial uproar over Cee Lo Green’s rendition of the classic John Lennon song Imagine at the New York Times concert just before the ball dropped. You had to know I’d chime in on this one… religion, music and idiots. How can one resist? So, I’m not even going to try.
The bru-ha-ha is simple. Mr. Green changed the words to the song when he performed it. It was a simple change but boy, oops. The first two verses of Imagine say:
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…
Instead, in the fourth line of the second verse Mr. Green sang, “And all religions true”. It was one of those, “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time” moments. Within minutes Twitter exploded, and not in a fun “Woo-hoo, Cee Lo” kind of way either. The performer tweeted back saying, “”Yo I meant no disrespect by changing the lyric guys! I was trying to say a world were u could believe what u wanted that’s all.” (His type-o’s, not mine.)
It’s astonishing to me that he could skip over the really revolutionary aspects of the song (no possessions and no governments) and key in on religion. Now, his little rewrite and subsequent response drive me crazy not just because one does not go messing with this song, of all songs. No, I can’t get past the fact that he just got done saying there’s no Heaven or Hell and he still goes with “All religions true”??? That doesn’t even make sense, neither did his tweet.
Nice try at damage control, Cee Lo, but it was not enough to stop the death threats from being tweeted. For example, there was this gem:
Side bar, am I the only one who finds it incongruous to “tweet” a death threat?
Here’s the thing, Imagine is one of those songs that profoundly touches our shared culture. It’s what the dictionary had in mind with the word “iconic”. The general population knows every line. The melody is simple and the prose is stark and spare. This means every word is important and carries weight. You start messing with that and it’s not John Lennon’s Imagine any more, it’s, well, in this case, Cee Lo Green’s “Dooh!” moment.
You might notice that I said “idiots” up above, as in plural, more than one idiot. Clearly, sorry, Cee Lo, The Voice is a guilty pleasure of mine I enjoy with the kids, but dude, you so blew it here. Equally clearly, Mr. Green is not the only idiot at the party. What kind of person wishes a heart attack and a one-way ticket to hell over a lyric adjustment?
Alright, granted it’s a big one, Yoko Ono has refused people the right to cover the song when they wanted to make similar lyrical changes. So, not only is Cee Lo Green an idiot, he’s not even an original idiot. To think, I always kind of liked that guy.
***Sigh, I bang my head against my desk. Repeatedly.***
Sorry, I’m back. Now returning to the death threats. Really? I mean people, plu-leeze.
It’s like someone showing up to a funeral in a hot pink lace mini and turquoise pumps. You shake your head, mutter under your breath and then go about your business. Death threats and damnation are not required. Anyone can see the bozo blew it. Embarrassment, humiliation, now those are appropriate and well deserved. (First of all, pumps are a terrible choice for a graveyard. They sink into the grass.) Mock the man, certainly. Point and laugh, I can support that. But death threats? Seems Mr. Green isn’t the only one to completely miss the point of Lennon’s song.
If it’s any consolation, Cee Lo, we would have been talking about you this morning regardless. Your lyric change has simply subverted any conversation on how truly dreadful your performance was. You were out of tune and couldn’t commit to a range, so you used them all: low, high and then back again. Your voice cracked on the big notes. It was a really painful performance to sit through, even after all the wine I’d had last night. However, no one’s talking about that, all because of four little words.
Hey, was that part of your master plan?
We’re left with this: Cee Lo Green, clever spin master of the singing malfunction or common garden variety nincompoop? You be the judge.