Wednesday, November 03, 2004

"Imagine"--more like "Imagination," as in, Fairy Tale

While I'm on the topic of musicians and their warped views of reality, let me say a few words about how much I hate John Lennon's song, "Imagine." To clarify, it's more that I hate the high esteem in which the majority of the members of the music industry hold it. "Imagine" is practically Scripture to the editors of Spin or any of the wanna-be intellects posing as lyricists and singer-songwriters.

I bring this up because APerfectCircle does an original cover (if that sounds like an oxymoron, I can explain) of "Imagine" on it's new "politically-charged" album, out yesterday. The song was released a few weeks ago and has received typical APC airplay. I heard an interview with Maynard and Billy from APC on the radio Sunday nite and to hear them talk about the song selection, themes, and motives behind the album got a little under my skin.

Let me preface the following with the clarification that I am not trying to critique the song as a piece of music. The music behind the song is simple, introspective, and beautiful. It is the song as it stands as a worldview that needs to be challenged.

For those of you not familiar with the song, I will not waste time finding the lyrics and copying them here. You should take this as a sign that you need to diversify your music collection. (Plus, I said this was only going to be a few words. I'm approaching seven thousand with this sentence.)

I will skip over the obvious lines, "Imagine there's no heaven...No hell below us" and the line that reads contrary to what I know about the Beatles well-chronicled trip to the Far East: "No religion, too." Most of you, my readers, know me and my faith so I need not explain what about these lines, these "hopes" and "dreams" puts wrinkles in my forehead that is a little larger every day.

The frustration I have with "Imagine" is that so many people buy into it. I admit that it isn't hard for the undiscerning listener to be drawn in by the sweet ebb and flow of the subdued piano and especially a song seemingly calling for world peace and brotherhood in our time. These are good things, right? Isn't this just Lennon's own retread of the "Can't we all get along" themes of the 60's?

It would be fine to dismiss "Imagine" as harmless if it were just a song calling for the end of wars or civil unrest. But it's more than that. Lennon and his disciples are subscribers to a radical and harmful way of thinking by holding out for something that will never happen. They were the last of a few burnouts who believed something completely against the truth of the Bible (and what many might call rational, common sense), that is, that man is essentially good. And not only is man essentially good, says Lennonism, but we as a people can be perfected if merely placed in the right environment and rid of all causes of sin like religion, possessions, and political systems.

That's what "Imagine" is about--the utopian worldview. "Utopia" sounds like such a nice word when used in hyperbole to describe what the world would be like "if everyone just did [this]" or "if everyone just stopped [that]." But a utopian worldview is dangerous and ridiculous almost to the point of being comical.

Seekers of utopia come in all degrees of devotion, like most any organized religion. There are those, like Lennon seems to be, who dream of a globe where there is an absolutely free, unhindered exchange of cultures and goods and ideas (uninhibited sex probably makes the list, too, but that's just speculation). There are those who merely hope for the lofty goal of an end to wars and believe that we are only a few timely treaties or summits away. These are the types of people who believe that we can reason with radical Islam and terrorists hell-bent on our destruction. Utopians are most dangerous when posing as Presidential candidates with all the answers ("I have a plan...").

Yes, there is validity to the desire to have an end to all life-taking conflicts, especially wars. Yes, there is validity to the desire for free exchange of ideas and goods and ideas across cultural borders. But it is wrong and foolish to assume that we are merely to love and embrace peoples and thoughts from all over the world based on the premise that we are all moving toward perfection. It is only a matter of time, you say, until we have chased out the last remaining demons of materialism and intolerance and can begin a world of perfection. Well, I hope I'm not around to see it.

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 country/It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too
Imagine all the people/living life in peace

Imagine no possessions/I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger/A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people/Sharing all the world

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 live as one

Monday, November 01, 2004

Rock 'N' Roll is from the Devil

It's widely known that people involved in the arts--the thespians, the artists, the musicians, the poets of the world--and even those involved in Hollyweird are a breed slightly to the left of center. The vegans, the tree-huggers, the left-over hippies all have an artsy flavour to them and find themselves leaning liberal on most any political issue. Whether it truly is the majority of these left-brained artists and lyricists and musicians that tend to be liberal or it only just seems to be so is something that I have no way to qualify; for now let's procede with the common assumption that practically all artsy-types are liberals, even radically so, at times.

I admit that it has only been a recent revelation on my part to the fact that the vast majority of the musician sect of the art cult is included in this group. Until only recently, I was under the assumption that all politically-charged bands were obscure Naderites or just voiced an anti-everything-government/authority voice. With almost no exception, I had no idea that rockers actually had rational political views and chose to voice them.

When I heard the news that several noteworthy bands (including Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, REM and Bruce Springsteen, to name a few) were touring the country this election season to promote the cause of all that is anti-Bush, it actually came as a bit of a shock to me. Of the extensive and diversified lineup of bands on the Vote for Change Tour, the inclusion of Pearl Jam and REM and the Dixie Chicks made sense to me, but that any of the other bands would join in on a Tour to raise support for the Democratic party came as a surprise to me, even my dear Bruce.

I guess Bruce shouldn't have come as a surprise--in retrospect, it was more of a disappointment than a surprise. I've always taken a degree of pride in what Bruce represents. To me, the Boss is EveryMan, the hard-working, high school graduate, middle-class average Joe Tea--and from Jerseyland, no less. Such a strong affiliation with the plight of the regular guy, in my mind, makes Bruce a conservative Republican, not someone who would be introducing Kerry before 80,000 people in Wisconsin on the campaign trail. Just when you think you know a guy.

The more press these liberal rockers have been getting, playing shows in "battleground states," supporting the Dems with a portion of the proceeds, casting stones at the President between there anything a rock-loving conservative Bush-supporter to do? I have kept my eyes and ears open for news of a counter-tour supporting the GOP and the President, but it doesn't exist as far as I know. Are there conservative, Republican rockers? Do they express their views in the public forum or does the mainstream press just not give them the same coverage? If not--if the liberals are the only group that has the endorsement of the highly-informed, highly-educated, all-wise Rock Star party--then this only goes to confirm what has made it all so appealing in the first place: Rock 'N' Roll is from the Devil.