Fundraising efforts will push artists into performing songs they thought they never would. Julian Lennon, perhaps missing the message within John Lennon’s Imagine, performs it to raise money for Ukraine. Although there was no backlash for Julian as there was for Gal Gadot and friends doing it in a time of global isolation, the sentiment remains unchanged. Imagine there is no God as shrapnel falls and Alan White hammers away on drums. Still, the change in setting, pace and style for Imagine means Lennon Jr. has the chance to cover a song he probably never would have had it not been for a charity drive. All have their own interests at heart, and although Imagine is thrown out on the piano to raise money, part of it must be to prompt that connection following Lennon’s recent album.
As rough as Jude was, it is not a scratch on this cover of Imagine. Nevermind whether another cover of Imagine was needed, don’t worry about the acoustic heaviness to it and the staggered approach, it is for a good cause after all. As is the case for many covers of this style and post-pop reflection as an act of fundraising, Lennon provides an unremarkable cover. His vocal range is still impressive, this is no indication of poor power in the voice box, but it is an uninspired stripping back of the song which gave his father a boost following The Beatles break-up. Surrounded by candles, Julian Lennon takes on the role of charity organiser and U2 frontman Bono. It all feels a tad disingenuine.
Still, they march on, covering their tracks of old with acoustics of new, expecting some vibrancy or vibration to hit fans with the grief of others. Here it is, and it will work for a generation possessed by Live Aid and supergroup charity showcases. Anyone with an acoustic guitar can cover the likes of Imagine, Wonderwall and Space Oddity, but it takes real guts to yank at the heartstrings until people are slumped over enough to extract wallets from pockets. “The world will live as one,” is the articulate hope this track ends on, as it did to begin with all those decades ago. Just re-release it at that stage, no good comes from the covers of now. Everything has a motive, good or bad.
Hanging around and waiting for Jude Lennon to prove he has some gift of the songwriting variety is thinning the patience of his crowds. Painfully out of place lyrics for those trying to struggle through war, the last thing anyone needs in times of suffering is to hear the son of John Lennon rattle off, imagining he has no possessions while surrounded by a candle collection Liberachi would kill for. He would take thumbs to eyes for even a section of the display featured in the music video, although would jam his pollex pair into his ears had he witnessed this cover. Lennon has a good voice, this much must be stressed. But a cover of Imagine, as predictable as it is, is such a wishy-washy way of raising awareness and finds itself slumped alongside Pink Floyd’s attempt at charity drives.