God (John Lennon song)

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"God"
God John Lennon cover.jpg
Cover to promo single issued by Odeon in Spain in 1988
Song by John Lennon from the album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
Released 11 December 1970
Recorded 26 September – 9 October 1970
Genre Rock
Length 4:09
Label Apple/EMI
Writer John Lennon
Producer John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Phil Spector
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band track listing

"God" is a song from John Lennon's first post-Beatles solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. The album was released on 11 December 1970 in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The song was considered controversial upon release, dealing with anti-religious themes.

Meaning[edit]

There are three sections in the song:

In the first section, John Lennon describes God as "a concept by which we measure our pain".

In the second, Lennon lists many idols that he does not believe in, ending by stating that he just believes in himself (individuality) and Yoko (his wife). The idols he lists are: magic, I Ching, Bible, tarot, Hitler, Jesus, Kennedy (which he also sang as "Kennedys", referring to both John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy), Buddha, mantra, Gita, yoga, kings, Elvis, Zimmerman (Bob Dylan) and Beatles.

The final section describes Lennon's change since the break-up of The Beatles. He states that he is no longer the "Dreamweaver" or "The Walrus", but just "John". The final line of the song, "The dream is over" represents Lennon's stance that the myth "the Beatles were God" had come to an end. "If there is a God," Lennon explained, "we're all it."[1]

Personnel[edit]

The musicians who performed on the original recording were as follows:[2]

Appearances and allusions in pop culture[edit]

  • The line "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me" was referenced in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
  • The song has been performed by Queen guitarist Brian May, with sweeping lyrical changes.[3]
  • Irish rock band U2 wrote a song entitled "God Part II", referring to the original Lennon song. The lyrics, written by lead singer Bono, continue the pattern of stating things he doesn't believe in. The song also refers to "Instant Karma!", another one of Lennon's songs, with the line "Instant karma's gonna get him / If I don't get him first" (referring to unauthorised Lennon biographer Albert Goldman).
  • Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman's song "God Part III" on his 1991 Stranded in Babylon album, "draws on John Lennon's "God" and the U2 riposte ("God II")",[4] with lyrics that indicate: "I don't believe in Beatles", and "Don't believe in the revolution or the empty words of peace."[5]
  • "God" (and the album Plastic Ono Band generally) was mocked in the National Lampoon Comedy Radio song "Magical Misery Tour", also released on the 1972 National Lampoon Radio Dinner album. This parody consists entirely of actual quotes from Lennon's famous Rolling Stone magazine interview following the break-up of The Beatles. It ends with "Lennon" crying out, "Where are you, Mother!? They're trying to crucify me!", followed by a heavily-echoed fadeout of repeated primal screams "Fuck! Fuck!".[6]
  • "God" was covered by Jack's Mannequin and Mick Fleetwood for the 2007 benefit album Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.
  • The David Bowie song "Afraid" makes a reference to "God" with the lyric "I believe in Beatles", part of brief list of statements beginning with "I believe in".
  • Penn Jillette closed his 5 April 2006 radio show (Penn Radio, on Free FM) with certain selected lyrics from the song "God".
  • On December 8, 2013, the anniversary of John Lennon's death, Jeff Tweedy, of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo fame, closed his solo performance at Seattle's Moore Theater with a performance of "God." He was joined for this encore finale by Scott McCaughey.[7]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Wenner, Jann S. (2000). Lennon Remembers. London: Verso. p. 48. ISBN 1-85984-376-X. 
  2. ^ Blaney, John (2005). John Lennon: Listen To This Book. Guildford, Great Britain: Biddles Ltd. p. 61. ISBN 0-9544528-1-X. 
  3. ^ God (the dream is over) at the Wayback Machine (archived May 15, 2008)
  4. ^ Rupert Loydell, "Larry Norman – Stranded in Babylon", CR Mag 11 (1 July 1992), http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/products/Larry_Norman/Stranded_In_Babylon/5267/
  5. ^ For lyrics, see "God Part III", http://www.onlyvisiting.com/gallery/lyrics/songs/godIII/godIII.html
  6. ^ "Magical Misery Tour" appears on the compilation CD Greatest Hits of the National Lampoon, and can be heard in its entirety at this site: http://blogfiles.wfmu.org/KF/0512/Magical_Misery_Tour.mp3
  7. ^ http://wilcoworld.net/#!/roadcase/moore-theatre-seattle-wa

External links[edit]