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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lyrical Manipulation: Part 2



As I continue in this series of examining lyrics, let me remind you that the intent here is not to find "appropriate" artist and those to put on the "shun list." We are simply trying to guard what is poured into our thoughts by being able to discern what we are listening too. 
You do need to understand though, that just because an artist is called a Christian, doesn't mean they are 1) pursuing their career with the intent of glorifying Christ and leading you to the Gospel with their talents, 2) theologically sound and able to clearly apply truths in their lyrics, 3) teaching Biblical truths and not polluting scripture, 4) actual believers who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
I know this sounds judgmental, but you want to have the right resources and facts before allowing your mind to meditate on what you are hearing.
That all being said, today I am going to focus on two songs by the band NeedToBreathe. After we break down the lyrics, and compare the points of view, we will see what the artist see themselves as and the music they are making, which is very popular in both the secular side as well as the Christian Contemporary side.


"Something Beautiful"
NeedToBreathe

In your ocean, I'm ankle deep
I feel the waves crashin' on my feet
It's like I know where I need to be
But I can't figure out, yeah I can't figure out

Just how much air I will need to breathe
When your tide rushes over me
There's only one way to figure out
Will ya let me drown, will ya let me drown

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees, I'm waiting for something beautiful
Oh, something beautiful

And the water is risin' quick
And for years I was scared of it
We can't be sure when it will subside
So I won't leave your side, no I can't leave your side

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees, I'm waiting for something beautiful
Oh, something beautiful

In a daydream, I couldn't live like this
I wouldn't stop until I found something beautiful
When I wake up, I know I will have
No, I still won't have what I need

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees, I'm waiting for something beautiful
Oh, something beautiful


From a Biblical world view, we can possibly infer the ocean as life and preparing to be overwhelmed, the singer is looking for something to save him and be by his side as it overtakes him. Yet, other than the phrase "down on my knees" it is very hard to find a spiritual tone. This song actually has less to point towards God than some of the others being played on secular stations right now.


As for the secular world view, this song has the imagery found in popular songs dating from the 60's and frequenting today's music scene. Imagery doesn't really need to make sense or point to a definite theme, so this song can just flow from the verses into the chorus and finish with a repetition of finding something beautiful in our lives.
I really enjoy Bear Rinehart's voice and the way he folds the words over onto themselves. He is a very talented singer and the style they play accents their abilities making it no surprise why they are popular in both music sides. And 
whew, what an interesting use of visualizations in a song without a clear meaning. 


Now for their second song.




"Lay Em Down"
NeedToBreathe

Come down to the river
Come and let yourself in
Make good on a promise
To never hurt again
If you're lost and lonely
You're broken down
Bring all of your troubles
Come lay 'em down

All you sinners
And the weak at heart
All you helpless
On the boulevard
Wherever you are now
Whatever evil you've found
Bring all of your troubles
And come lay 'em down

We're all tied to the same old failings
Finding shelter in things we know
We're all dirty like corrupted small towns
Bring our troubles
Bring our troubles
Lay 'em down

All you rich men
And the high above
All those with and without love
All you burdened broken down
Bring all of your troubles
Come lay 'em down
Come lay 'em down
Come lay 'em down

Come all you burdened
Come all you helpless
Bring all your burdens
Just lay 'em down

Come all you broken
Come all you helpless
Bring all your troubles
Just lay 'em down

Come lay 'em down
Come lay 'em down
Come lay 'em down


This song has a catchy "clap" beat that is really... catchy? I have even seen a congregation of normally immobile members start swaying and clapping while singing this song. 

As for the lyrics...

Biblical: Their is an obvious call to laying down your burdens in scripture and this song highlights the various types of people in the world, all of whom have burdens that weigh them down. The Gospel is definitely filled with hope for those who are burdened and want to be set free of their chains. But any follower of Christ should be able to identify the part of laying down your burdens that is missing from this theology(*1a). And I am sorry, but picking and choosing scripture to make a happy feeling song should not be acceptable. We can find great joy in taking up Christ's yoke, and to exclude that part of the lesson is taking away too much truth and keeping the song from being a great call to the burdened.

Secular: This song, as it is, can point to so many personal joys or escapes from the troubles of the world. Honestly, it could be about drinking your troubles away or the like. Without a definitive target to lay down your troubles to, it is up to the listener to pick what fits best for them. Sad that a song with this kind of impact and influence  is missing a mark that could lead many who hear it in the secular music side, to come to know the truth of Christ in this act.

I said we would look at the band's own words, so here they are. (Emphasis added)

"One thing we’ve had to come to terms with, as a band is that we need to play the same show, whether it’s at a club, or at a Christian festival the next day. We’ve figured out as a band there are certain things you can say from stage that will help you sell more CD’s. The difficult thing for us was coming to grips with who we are, and being consistent even if it means not all of the Christian audience 'gets us.'  - Bear Rinehart

Regarding the band's religious beliefs and how they play into their songs, Bear Rinehart told titletrakk.com: "Christianity is something that is important in our lives. It's not the only thing that's important in our lives, but then we wouldn't be relevant to society if that was the only thing we talked about. I don't think the band struggles with it that much. Sometimes the thing we struggle with the most is the Christian media." - Bear Rinehart

I will just let those words speak for themselves and invite you to learn about the music and artist you listen to. Even if you decide to continue listening and feel no conviction by it, you should still be aware of what is behind the music.

In His Name. 






(*1a) Matthew 11:28-30English Standard Version (ESV)28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

2 comments:

Hymn-Writer said...

Great points. It's amazing in a world where clarity of the gospel is just what the doctor ordered that we dance around in the dimly lit waiting room of cliche and ambiguity simply because we fear a bad review. What we should be saying is "Jesus Saves" and just how He accomplished this over and over in the most creative ways possible. I mean if you're good your good right. Shouldn't the song writing talent of these bands speak for themselves?

Missions! said...

Seems like Paul was right when he spoke of clarity in worship in 1 Corinthians 14:6 and following. I will also say that if somebody has to actually tell me the lyrics as in the metal groups, I find the same principle applying and often the style is simply only craved by the old man.