With it being Easter this weekend, I thought it perhaps apt that I turn to the subject of religion for this week’s TT. Although not unexpected, perhaps, with the music that I listen to, it proved somewhat difficult to find that many songs that cast religion in a positive light. Still, I did find the odd one to ensure some kind of balance, at least.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Welcome To Paradise
/Front By Front
Opening with the sample of “Hey poor! You don’t need to be poor anymore! Jesus is here!” sets out the stall of this track straight away. Even with it now being over twenty years old, it’s the classic use of cut-up samples of evangelical preachers gently pokes fun at religious evangelists by using only what they say (and the beats are pretty ace, too, although the live version is far superior.
/God! Show Me Magic
Still not entirely serious, the Super Furries went a different route a few years later, simply asking for God to prove he exists, in a slightly tongue-in-cheek way. It’s a cracking track, too, one of those songs that has an amazing ability to wedge itself in your head and not go away, and it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome either, lasting less than two minutes!
/Under The Pink
As noted above, trying to find more positive songs about religion for me was pretty difficult, but here’s one. Tori Amos is an artist who has consistently used religious imagery and references in her songs, although few as obvious as this – the lyrics are about male-dominated religion, and cheekily asking God if he needs a woman’s touch to help “him” out…
/Once Upon The Cross
/Once Upon The Cross
While this is about as un-christian as it’s possible to get – lead man Glenn Benton branded an upturned cross into his forehead years ago – this track suggests an alternative reason for Jesus being on the cross. Deicide’s defiantly anti-Christian schtick frankly gets as tiring as pro-Christian music does, though, and sometimes it’s so ridiculous that it’s hard to take it too seriously.
/Slaying The Prophets Ov Isa
Yes, more growly death metal shouting about “RELIGION=BAD”, but here in perhaps a more measured way (Behemoth are one of those bands who put lengthy explanations of their songs in the lyric booklets, which is often helpful as you can’t make out an awful lot of the lyrics) – with this awesomely bludgeoning track bringing forth a vocal detailing how they anticipate a time where religion is not relevant, where, as they put it, “we are free to project ourselves the way we want on the map ov [sic] infinity”.
/God Send Death
/God Hates Us All
Slayer are also no strangers to songs criticizing religion – each album seems to have at least one, although this album was full of them. Pick of them for me, though, is this one, a rampaging track roaring its disapproval of religion as a tool for war to spectacular effect.
/The Downward Spiral
When not wallowing in his own misery (with admittedly striking results) on The Downward Spiral, Trent Reznor did have the odd moment when he become somewhat less insular and turned his jagged rage on a different target, and Heresy remains, fifteen years later, a quite astonishingly powerful track. Underpinned by a gigantic, stomping beat, the vocals are all treated-to-hell – the verse vocals being reduced to an almost meek hiss before the chorus simply explodes with fury.
/The Mercy Seat
Probably one of the most extraordinary songs that Nick Cave ever wrote, this is one of many, many Cave songs that feature or reference religion at some point or another, and in this list, it is perhaps a rare track that casts religion in a positive light – telling the tale of a murderer facing the electric chair, and finding redemption in finally admitting that he did commit the murder after all, and being ready to face heaven.
/Some Great Reward
This was a song that apparently caused no end of ruckus with the Church upon release, mainly due to the suggestion that God has something of “a sick sense of humour” – the song tells the story of a girl who tries to kill herself, survives, finds God, then gets killed by being struck by a car. Either way, it’s a great song, although perhaps dated a little now.
/Sex, God, Sex
/Children of God
Somewhat unexpectedly, this album’s credits are finished off with thanks to “Jesus Christ, Our Lord” – Michael Gira never having struck me as being a particularly religious chap, but this album as a whole is riddled with imagery that suggests God was never far from his mind when creating this album, which is something like the bridge between the searing brutality of early Swans material and the more reflective, less extreme (but no less dark) later period work. Anyway, this track – already long enough on CoG, the version I’ve linked to on Spotify from live album Feel Good Now stretches well beyond ten minutes – is the incredible centrepiece, where the concept of “connecting” with God is deliberately confused with sexual imagery to awesome effect, and as the wailing choirs build and build in their devotional sound, it’s appears no accident that it is also structured to sound like a sexual act.