the proposal of some activists


In these days there is a sort of media provocation launched by several civil rights activists and collected by the critic Wren Graves from the pages of the online magazine “Consequence of Sound”: “Imagine”, the symbolic song of world peace published by John Lennon in 1971, it could become the new one American national anthem?

According to activists – and as noted by the journalist, the American anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner” – composed in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, it would be highly inappropriate for the historical moment that the United States has been experiencing for a few weeks now.

To be questioned it would seem the meaning of the words, and consequently, the qualities of the lyricist of the American jurist. Citing the research of historian Jason Johnson and journalist Kevin Powell, Wren Graves observes that Key was not only a slave driver, but also a staunch racist. Clearly today a decontextualization of the song should be implemented, but apparently the words used at the time would seem decidedly out of date in the eyes of he launched this proposal:

In the third stanza of the text Key would refer to a “gang” of “mercenaries and slaves” whose “blood has wiped out the contamination of their dirty footprints”. According to Johnson’s interpretation, the reference would be to the African American population freed by the British army to fight for British troops during the Anglo-American war that broke out in 1812. For these reasons, “The Star-Spangled Banner” would no longer be suitable to represent – according to Graves – the spirit of the United States of America.

Hence, the critic’s idea, to focus on a popular song like “Imagine” which in addition to being cited as one of the most beautiful pieces of music in the history of rock music, and positioned by the magazine “Rolling Stone” in third place in the ranking of best music tracks of all time has in the past enjoyed the consent of former President Jimmy Carter, who declared that in many countries of the world the song would enjoy the same respect that is reserved for national anthems.

The famous song composed byex Beatle he is among those made during his solo career. “Image” it was released on the self-titled album and later as a single in the United States of America along with “It’s So Hard”. Subsequently in 1975 the song was republished as a single also for the British market as side B of “Working Class Hero”.

Co-produced by Lennon and Yōko Ono together with the composer Phil Spector who worked on the most famous Beatles albums, the song was recorded in Lennon’s home studio in Tittenhurst Park, Ascot in England in May 1971 in a pacifist key, as his verses celebrate. At the same time though Lennon himself admitted, with a hint of provocation, that the contents of “Imagine” they bring it closer to the “Manifesto of the Communist Party” than to a hymn to peace: the song is the mirror of a secular society in which the values ​​of materialism, utilitarianism and hedonism, the same capitalist elements that represent the USA and all industrialized countries. Lennon he stated that the passage was “anti-religious, anti-nationalist, anti-conventional and anti-capitalist, and is accepted only because it is covered in sugar”.

Yōko Ono, instead, said that the message of “Imagine” it could be summed up by saying that “we are all one world, one country, one people”. In this regard, the promoter of this initiative Wren Graves said:

“It seems unlikely that all of America will come together under the words of a British artist who helped experiment with the use of LSD.”

Although the idea would seem innovative and highly democratic, the same critic knows in his heart that this idea could remain as a “dream in the drawer” of those who have fully perceived the message of Lennon, who utopistically prostrated himself at the mercy of the reality that surrounds the USA today, a country in eternal contradiction.

The text of “Imagine”, after about fifty years, it still has a strong prophetic charge. However, the governing powers that should read it and understand it carefully are not entirely inclined to fulfill their “democratic” obligations and to safeguard the values ​​that the passage conveys.

“Imagine” it’s a nonconformist song, written at a time when the United States of America showed all its power and paradoxical side to a panicked world. It is the symbol of a human “new utopia” as a symbol of a pseudo-nation “Nutopia” the imaginary country founded by the same John Lennon and Yoko Ono to deal with immigration problems with satirical means, concepts present in Lennon’s album Mind Games (1973) which in turn contains “Nutopian International Anthem”, composed of four seconds of silence, a passage that summarizes the ironic statute of this nation:

“There is no leadership and not all citizenships have been registered. As a result, the population is unknown. “

Lennon he was a visionary and an artist totally outside the box, who would certainly like that “Imagine” was used as a hymn of the country he strongly criticized, but probably he himself has always known that this message would have been put into practice at Nutopia and not in the real world.

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