Imagine

John Lennon's Imagine is one of his most remarkable songs. It remains popular 40 years after it was released. Imagine seemed to sum up the aspirations of the '60s perfectly [even though it was released in 1971].

I like the song too, but there is little in it I can agree with intellectually. But damned if it isn't a catchy tune.

I recently found this version of Imagine by Maynard James Keenan of A Perfect Circle. It is not exactly a cover, but rather a new take on the song. I actually like it better than the original.

The minor chords and the slow, deliberate beat have been compared to a funeral dirge, with some justice. 40 years later, this version of the song perfectly captures how the innocent political utopianism of the '60s has turned sour.

When Maynard sings,

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but Im not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

it sounds like a threat. I have no idea whether it was intended, but this version's dystopian feel matches my assessment of what happens when you try to implement Lennon's foolish utopianism.

This song could be the theme song of a book series I am currently reading, Falkenberg's Legion, by Jerry Pournelle. The whole series has been collected in an omnibus edition, The Prince. Pournelle started writing the series about the same time Imagine was composed. It was originally straight up science fiction, but it has become alternative history now. It tells the story of an Earth where détente turned into a political alliance between the US and USSR that allowed the colonization of other worlds, but froze Earth into the politics of the 1960s. By the end of the series, 2/3s of Earth's population has become the mob, simultaneously dependent and radicalized. This version of Imagine is what they would play as they burn the cities.