Dave Silverman Challenges Cee Lo Green to Sing ‘Imagine’ with the Correct Lyrics

This morning, American Atheists’ Dave Silverman made an offer to Cee Lo Green after the singer altered the lyrics to “Imagine” on New Years Eve:

Come to the Reason Rally and sing the song with the line “And no religion, too.” Dave even offered to pay the expenses for the trip.

Here’s the clip from Geoff Berg‘s radio show:

Smart way to capitalize on Cee Lo’s bad judgment.

(via Partisan Gridlock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Beaux

    I’m still gonna have PETA throw paint on his fur coat

  • Amber_ghouse

    He sang the other lyrics to the song that are suggestive of a secular message, “No hell below us. Above us only sky.” So, I dont see why he would have a problem singing the, “No religion too” part. I think he just sincerely forgot the lyrics and sang the wrong words.

    • alphabetsoupofsomething

      Click on ‘altered the lyrics’ link: He made a Twitter update saying he did it intentionally.

  • Anonymous

    I’m actually more in favour of Pierce Butler’s suggestion:

    I propose the most suitable atonement on Green’s part would be to, with
    an explicit apology, donate his entire payment for last night’s gig,
    plus 20% or more, to a charity named by Yoko Ono.

    (from a comment on Greg Laden’s blog: http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/2012/01/01/the-most-disgusting-thing-ive-seen-all-year-so-far/#comments

    • http://blissfulblightbooks.com/ Shawn

      Nah, she’d just split the payment up and it wouldn’t have the impact it would have had if it had stayed whole.

  • Luke

    I don’t think “bad judgement” would be the right description because that tends to imply that what he did was in some way “wrong”. I don’t understand the anger about the change. He’s made a change to a song while covering it, that’s something artists do all the time. Personally, I prefer the original version but I don’t see why he shouldn’t adapt the music he makes to reflect his own particular viewpoint.

    • Anonymous

      The problem is he turned John Lennon’s song into the exact opposite of what John Lennon wrote while singing to a general audience. If he had changed the lyrics in some other fashion, people might have thought it questionable or uncalled for. If he had been singing to a church gathering or interfaith meeting, an outsider might have thought it in poor taste. But such a flagrant disregard for the artist’s intentions at such a venue? Too much. It’s like photoshopping  Rosa Parks  onto the campaign bus of a political candidate who is against civil rights.

      • Demonhype

        Well said.  This isn’t just censoring out an objectionable word, even if that’s stupid.  As said in the other thread, if a line said “religion is shit” and they changed it to “religion is bad”, okay, it’s stupid censorship but at least it remains conceptually true to the intent of the song.  But if they change “religion is shit” to “religion is good”, you’ve contradicted the meaning of the song.

        Seriously, if he needs to adapt the song to reflect his own pro-religious viewpoint, maybe he should find another song to sing.  One that actually reflects his viewpoint and requires no shitting on the memory of the composer to achieve this.

        Religionists changing that one line in Imagine is like when religious skeptics (as in theist skeptics, not skeptics of religion) are a-okay with debunking ghosts, ESP, telekinesis, cryptozoology, aliens, UFO’s, Scientology, and any number of other ideas/cults/etc. they agree are not true, but feel their own religion should have a special exemption from any critical scrutiny, and get pissed when atheistic skeptics give their beliefs no special treatment.  Sure, no countries, no possessions, none of those things are all that important to me, but when you attack my imaginary friend that’s going too far!

  • http://twitter.com/GWNIII Gerald Naylor

    Dave Silverman is the reason that I refuse to support American Atheists. I have no problem with being outspoken, brash, or even rude, but I can’t stand for obnoxious. Cee Lee Green is a complete non-issue, as was the 9/11 Cross incident. Many of the billboards have been needlessly confrontational. “You know it’s a myth.” was pointless.  I’d love to support a strictly secular organization, but Silverman has done very little to inspire confidence.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

      I saw him on TV a while back and ‘His Brashness’ kicked
      three Foxers’ asses out the window. I don’t think they’ll ask him back.

      The FFRF billboards are very good, showing real people coming out of the closet. (But their Solstice banner may not be for everyone.)

    • Demonhype

      Actually the Cee Lo incident is a very public “fuck you” to Lennon and the atheist community by taking the line he feels is atheistic and deliberately carving out a special exemption for his own pet beliefs,  changing it to the polar opposite of the original composer’s intent–and in diametric opposition to the overall message of the song.  Imagine if instead of that line it changed the thing about no countries to “one country” under America, or Germany, or Soviet Russia, or [insert 'patriotic' ideology here].  That would be the same thing, saying “all this is okay, but I think that my country should be ruling the world so I’m going to carve a special exemption for “no countries”.  Even if you don’t specify the country, it still doesn’t work because the main premise is to challenge the listener to really reconsider the objective importance of all these social institutions on which we hang  so much of our lives.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger/featured GodVlogger (on YouTube)

      Conversely, David Silverman is one of the reasons that I personally DO support American Atheists. I find him to be right on target and he is not shy about moving the bar forwards for atheism in America. The “You know it’s a myth” billboard campaign that you think was pointless brought in MANY new atheist members and donors, and also it gained many many thousands of dollars worth of publicity on news stations nationwide. Regardless, everyone has different preferences, and if American Atheists does not hit the right tone that you prefer, then there are plenty of other secular groups that you can join and/or support (FFRF, Americans United, Secular Student Alliance, etc.). Peace.

      • http://profiles.google.com/nathanlee2 nathan lee

        I agree on the “you know it’s a myth” – a stroke of brilliance. I also love how he’s become his own meme of looking at someone that just said something really stupid.

        But Cee Lo? really? it’s a silly singer who flirts with every single girl, and dresses in big ride spiky suits. Don’t forget, singers change lyrics in songs ALL the freaking time, this wasn’t a fuck you to religion so much as it was a “whatever” moment. And because it was such a non-issue in his mind at the time, there is no way he’s ever going to sing at a freaking atheist convention.

    • Anonymous

       I’m becoming increasingly bothered by this kind of publicity too.  My whole take is here:

      http://spencertroxell.blogspot.com/2012/01/righteous-battles-of-atheists-of.html

      • Anonymous

        I’m getting a lot of flack for this piece in places I’ve cross published it at, so I thought I might offer this disclaimer:  This piece is not telling anyone to shut up. This piece is written from the perspective of an outspoken atheist supporter (and member) of the American Atheists’ who has a critique of the organization. Dave Silverman isn’t afraid to unapologetically say what he thinks, and neither am I.

  • Jayh6

    Years ago Roberta Flack altered the song, I have not kept track, but probably others have too.

  • KC Shoen
    • http://www.SketchSepahi.com/ SketchSepahi

      So if you object to Cee Lo’s change in the lyrics you’re an elitist, racist murderer? Come again? Eh, if you’re not going to take the discussion seriously, you’re a child-raping Stalinist with webbed feet and bad breath. So there.

    • FifteenthChapel
  • Knowing No Heaven

    I watched for a while that night, however he was so grossly out of tune I changed channels and missed the lyrics change.  My comment at the time was “You should have noticed in rehearsal that you could not sing that high”  I would instead challenge him to hit all the notes, and then get all the words. Otherwise you disrespect Carlson at WKRP whose only moment of spine revolved around these lyrics.

  • Terry

    Nope, let’s not waste fund-raining money to fly a poor-quality singer why disrepects us and music (Lennon’s artistic integrity). 
    Seems like an expensive way to get a little, not interesting publicity.  Not worth it and not good use of our money. 
    Use it for sponsoring secular artists or students or whoever else.

    • Anonymous

      “(Lennon’s artistic integrity).”

      *snerk* I love John Lennon to death but such hagiography is likely unworthy of a man who frequently admitted to his imperfections (as well as plagiarism).

  • Anonymous

    A Christian poser such as Cee Lo should have no problem with singing “no religion.” After all, aren’t his ilk always claiming that “it’s not a religion; it’s a ree-lay-shun-ship”?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think this is a big deal. Lennon probably could best be described as a “spiritual eclectic” who might very well agree have agreed with “all religions(plural) true” as an alternate lyric. He was also a professional who was not above tweaking his own arrangements of Motown and Chicago hits.

    Frankly, turning Imagine into an atheist anthem and Lennon into an
    ersatz atheist martyr here strikes me as just plain silly. The guy did a
    Christmas song, included “Hare Krishna” on Give Peace a Chance, engaged
    in an extended spiritual correspondence with Oral Roberts, and
    identified himself as a Zen Christian as late as 1980.

  • Nude0007

    It was an unnecessary change that can only be ascribed to bigotry. If he didn’t appreciate the sentiment of the song, why didn’t he just sing something else.  There’s no gray area here.

    • http://profiles.google.com/nathanlee2 nathan lee

      When there is no grey area, someone isn’t thinking hard enough.

      • Tom

        Where’s the grey area in what you just wrote, Mr Lee?


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