Wow, I must say I loved the London 2012 opening ceremony; I adored the games themselves and what they did to communities, attitudes and sporting inspiration in the UK; and I, with the help of some fine wine, massively enjoyed the closing ceremony. However, outside the fun and chaotic mash-up of music and culture, there was one particularly poignant and daring moment.
Yes, John Lennon was resurrected to sing the truly powerful song “Imagine”, replete with controversial (in some areas of the world) lyrics. Let me further explain the huge significance of this moment.
The Olympics closing ceremony beamed out across the world reaching millions and millions of homes in all different nations. And, given the secrecy of the event, it was a surprise to all watchers. The key here are the lyrics to Imagine:
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 countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace
And so on. The crucial lines being the imagination of no heaven and no religion. These iconic lines were beamed across the globe as a massive statement (or subtle, even) straight from the brilliance of organiser . I sat there, myself, in amazement just imagining what all the Republicans watching the event in America would think, wondering how the Islamic states would play it. Sadly, with time lags inserted in broadcasts to fight off such potential embarrassments, it has become apparent that Turkish television censored the lyrics. Shame. On. Them.
What’s more, the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Choir and Liverpool Signing Choir did a fantastic job with the song.
It’s this kind of liberal approach that makes me proud to be British at times. To cap it all off, the BBC (which had already done a sterling effort in their broadcasting of the games to British audiences) closed their own programme with a cover of Imagine by Emili Sandé sung beautifully to a montage of the most heart-wrenching moments of the games. Enough to make a grown man cry. AND STILL those lyrics seemed to jump out of the TV with power and beauty.
Hats off to Lennon, Boyle, Sandé and the BBC for having the balls to do that in front of global audiences.
Click here for the excellent BBC montage.