Archived Story

New lyrics not needed

Published 7:36pm Wednesday, January 11, 2012

You thought you had a headache New Year’s Day.
Cee Lo Green, born in 1974, sang John Lennon’s 1971 song “Imagine” Dec. 31 on NBC as the ball dropped to ring in 2012.
I’m kind of sympathetic because we can’t even print the name of one of his hits in a family newspaper because it starts with the sixth letter of the alphabet, ends in “uck” and isn’t firetruck.
In fact, when he performed a sanitized version of the song last February at the 53rd Grammy Awards with Gwyneth Paltrow and Muppets in a sort of homage to Elton John, it became “Forget You.”
Shades of the Rolling Stones wanting to spend some time together with us on Ed Sullivan.
The son of ordained ministers, he lost his dad at 2. His mom was also a volunteer firefighter. She became paralyzed in a car crash and died when the Atlantan was 18 and taking off with Goodie Mob, who were confederates of OutKast.
Green, born Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, is doing very well for himself, what with 7-Up commercials, coaching singers on “The Voice,” which returns Feb. 5 after the Super Bowl, and teaming up with deejay Danger Mouse as duo Gnarls Barkley for the very catchy “Crazy.”
Green’s offense, such as it was, on national television in New York City’s Times Square, was rewriting a song so dangerous it had to be pulled off the airwaves after 9/11.
Green replaced the line “and no religion, too” with “all religion is true.”
Others were bothered by a man wearing a full-length fur coat and large gold watch singing, “Imagine no possessions.”
“Imagine” is one of Lennon’s best songs, so spare yet haunting as a kind of utopian national anthem. After 40 years, it certainly didn’t cry out for editing or new lyrics.
Shortly after the performance, Green tweeted, “Yo, I meant no disrespect by changing the lyric guys! I was trying to say a world where u could believe what u wanted that’s all.”
Green eventually deleted his tweets in favor of a simple “Happy new year everyone!”
“I will say this,” Green said Friday. “It’s all about love. It was all about love and peace and unity and tolerance and acceptance. All of these wonderful things that sound cliché and a little bit cheesy, you may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.”
All You Need is Love. Give Peace a Chance. Quaint notions, maybe, but not cheesy.
But I believe him. Especially after he tweeted he’s been listening to “I’m Only Sleeping” from Revolver.
Imagine Lennon’s reaction considering the bonfires of Beatles records he lit with an offhand observation in March 1966 that the Fab Four were “more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first, rock ’n’ roll or Christianity.”
In those days, it took five months for the comment, which went virtually unnoticed in England, to even come to light on the eve of the final U.S. tour — in Datebook, an American teenage fan magazine.
Besides the Bible Belt furor, South Africa banned airplay until 1971 — after the Beatles broke up.
At a press conference, a very contrite Lennon pointed out, “If I’d said television was more popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it.”
Lennon said he had been referring only to how other people saw their success, but “if you want me to apologize, if that will make you happy, then OK, I’m sorry.”

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