Cee Lo Green criticised for changing lyrics to John Lennon's Imagine

Forget You singer apologises to fans for New Year's Eve performance in which he changed line criticising religion

Cee Lo Green has outraged fans after attempting to improve John Lennon's Imagine. During a televised performance on New Year's Eve, Green changed Lennon's lyrics, turning a line that criticises religion into one that celebrates faith.

Green's appearance on NBC's New Year's Eve concert had a promising start. Dressed in a black robe and shades, he stood onstage at New York's Times Square, summoning a soundtrack of piano and beats. "Imagine there's no heaven," he sang, "it's easy if you try." But things got trickier around the one-minute mark. "Imagine there's no countries/ It isn't hard to do /Nothing to kill or die for," Green crooned, "and all religion is true."

"All religion is true." It's a clunky line – and one Green made up. Lennon's original lyrics don't praise pluralism or interchangeable religious truths – they damn them. Back in 1971, Lennon asked us to imagine a world without borders, possessions, hunger or greed – "and no religion too".

Atheists, agnostics and Lennon purists were quick to attack Green on Twitter. "You sang Imagine in a fur coat & expensive jewelry and changed [the lyrics] to be pro-religion," wrote one user, "#2011WrongnessSummedUp". Others were even more disappointed: "I am imagining the spin cycle inside John Lennon's grave right now," tweeted sports journalist John Giannone.

Green eventually tweeted an apology: "Yo I meant no disrespect by changing the lyric guys!" he wrote. "I was trying to say a world were u could believe what u wanted that's all." But the Gnarls Barkley singer seemed to change his mind, deleting the apology and all related posts. "Happy new year everyone!!!" he tweeted instead. "Now playing: we just disagree [by] dave mason."


Sean Michaels

The GuardianTramp

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