Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Sundays - Skin And Bones

I love the The Sundays. I consider seeing them play live here in Salt Lake City in 1990 as one of the best shows I've ever attended. There are strong atheist themes in several of their songs (so look to see more of them here in the future). I like that they only have ever released 3 albums and I consider all of them classics, but now that it has been thirteen years since the last one, I also wouldn't mind if they'd give us one more at some point.

I've included two videos below- the studio version of the song and a live version. I like to include live versions of songs and if there's a suitable one available, I will generally use it over the studio version, but this live version is a bit substandard.










Skin And Bones
by The Sundays

You know, and I've been wondering
You know, all the way home
Whether the world will see I'm a better man
Than others by far.

You know, I've had it so good
How loathsome, and not quite my style
Work and vanity wasted my time inside
Oh, you see me in a cardigan
And a dress, dress, dress that I've been sick on
Oh, how are you?
Can't say I really care at the end of it all,

Actually, oh, well there's something I've found
It's that we're just flesh and blood
And well, now, just one thing I've found
It's that we're just flesh and blood.

And you know, and I've been wondering
You know, all the way home
Whether the world will see I'm a better man
Than others by far
Oh, how are you?
I shan't say I really care at the end of it all

Actually oh, there is something I've found
It's that we're just flesh and blood
Well, now, there's one thing I've found
It's that we're just skin and bones

Actually oh, there's something I've found
It's that we're just flesh and blood
And you're nothing much more
There's something, just something I've found
It's that we're just flesh and blood
And we're nothing much more

Oh no, what did I do wrong?
Individual doubts
Just one thing I've found
We're just flesh and blood
Nothing much more
Something, just something I've found
That we're skin and bones

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

James - One Of The Three

I was driving through the Arizona desert listening to James' album "Laid". I liked the songs that had been on the radio- namely "Laid" and "Say Something" but, I hadn't yet been grabbed by the slow aching beauty of the rest of the record. I remember being caught off guard a little by this quiet number with its subtle, understated drumming and atmospheric guitar. Then my mind wrapped itself around what he meant about "you were one of the three" and "you just knew they'd come for you, so it was suicide". I couldn't at that point comprehend how someone could sing a song that indicted Jesus not only for his narcissism but for all of the atrocities that have been committed in his name. It made no sense that someone could blaspheme about the savior of the world. Of course, over time, I finally realized that the odds that the narrator within the song believes that Jesus is real and is really the savior of the world are minuscule at best. Nearly seventeen years on and this song still does it for me. I hope some of you out there enjoy it too.








One Of The Three
by James

You were one, one of the three
One in three must find some peace
You were one, one of the three
I need proof before belief
Oh, well, you just knew they'd come for you
So it was suicide, suicide
Oh, well, now you got just what you want
I hope you're satisfied

One of the three

You were one, one of the three
One in three must find some peace
You were one, one of the three
I need proof before belief
Oh, well, I guess you're not to blame for what they
Done in your name, in your name
Oh, well, it's a shame you got so famous for a sacrifice

One of the three

You were one, one of the three
One in three must find some peace
You were one, one of the three
I need proof before belief

You sent forth your lamb to the slaughter

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The The - Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)

Where to begin on this song? Its title and ending refrain is an obvious reference to the "Happy Days Are Here Again" song that was popularized when alcohol prohibition ended in the U.S., when Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the U.S. Presidency, and (I think) at the end of World War II. The strongest atheist themes in the song is in the lines, "but if you think that Jesus Christ is coming, honey you've got another thing coming" and "if he ever finds out who's hijacked his name, he'll cut out his heart and turn in his grave". The song brilliantly illustrates how religion and politics are intertwined, and how religion is a potent tool in the hands of the politically powerful to enable them to get their citizens to fight their wars. The things I don't like about the song are the inclusion of Buddha in the beginning dialog. I'm sure that Matt Johnson was attempting to look for more religions to include besides Christianity and Islam, but in doing so, I think he has included a religion in the list that possibly doesn't share the same end of days philosophies of the other two. Also, I've always been puzzled by the line "And God won't send us down to Allah to burn". Did he mistake the Muslim term "Allah", which to my understanding is another term for "God", as being a word that meant "hell"? I don't know. But, these are minor flaws in what is otherwise a in impeccable observation- "the world is on its elbows and knees, it's forgotten the message and worships the creeds."











Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)
by The The

Are you ready for Jesus?
Uh huh
Buddha?
Yeah
Muhammad?
Ok
Well, I like this
Let's Go

They're 5 miles high as the crow flies
Leaving vapour trails against a blood red sky
Moving in from the East towards the West
With Balaclava helmets over their heads, yes

But if you think that Jesus Christ is coming
Honey you've got another thing coming
If he ever finds out who's hi-jacked his name
He'll cut out his heart and turn in his grave

Islam is rising
The Christians mobilising
The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds

It's war, she cried
It's war, she cried
This is war
Drop your possessions all you simple folk
You'll fight them on the beaches in your underclothes
You'll thank the good Lord for raising the Union Jack
You'll watch the ships sail out of harbour
And the bodies come floating back
Watch the ships sail out of harbour
And the bodies come floating back

But if you think that Jesus Christ is coming
Honey you've got another thing coming
If he ever finds out who's hi-jacked his name
He'll cut out his heart and turn in his grave

Islam is rising
The Christians mobilising
The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds

"Get the gun, get the gun, get the gun"
"Stay away from the gun, stay away from the gun"

If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA
Oh, the lights that now burn brightest behind stained glass
Will cast the darkest shadows upon the human heart
But God didn't build himself that throne
God doesn't live in Israel or Rome
God doesn't belong to the yankee dollar
God doesn't plant the bombs for Hezbollah
God doesn't even go to church
And God won't send us down to Allah to burn
God will remind us what we already know
That the human race is about to reap what it's sown

Islam is rising
The Christians mobilising
The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds

The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds
The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds
The world is on its elbows and knees
It's forgotten the message and worships the creeds

Armageddon days are here again
Armageddon days are here again
Armageddon days are here again
Armageddon days are here

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Echo & The Bunnymen - All In Your Mind

This excellent diatribe from Echo & The Bunnymen's 1987 self-titled classic covers a lot of ground. Not only does it decry the actual reasons behind organized religion- i.e. financial gain for those in charge. But, it also bears personal testimony from the song's protagonist about the ineffectualness of prayer. A song like this shouldn't be any surprise to those who actually listened to what Ian McCulloch was singing on earlier Bunnymen albums like "Heaven Up Here" and "Porcupine". Freethinking and anti-theism have been strong themes running through many of their songs, but this is definitely the most overt.









All In Your Mind
by Echo & The Bunnymen

You say you're proud to be
One of the people
Hands on the money
And your feet on the ground
Shouting out loud
From the top of the steeple
Counting the flock while
Collecting their pounds
All you theiving wheeler dealers
In the healing zone
Giving me fever fever fever fever
Down to my bones


I pray
and nothing happens
Jesus
it's all in my mind
You say
stop looking for answers
and reasons
they're all in your mind
all in you mind


Covered in flies
and smothered in lava
I can't scratch my itches
with these pumise stone hands
I dream of my days
as a desert farmer
living my life
On the fat of the sand
All you theiving wheeler dealers
in the healing zone
giving me Fever Fever Fever Fever
down to my bones


I pray
and nothing happens
Jesus
it's all in my mind
you say
Stop looking for answers
and reasons
they're all in your mind
all in your mind


Stuck in a world
losing its way and wonder
I wonder what happened
to the world we knew
Splitting the atom
and feeling its thunder
Could never ever make me
Feel the way you do
You give me Fever Fever Fever Fever
down to my bones
Fever Fever Fever Fever
in the healing zone


I pray
and nothing happens
Jesus
it's all in my mind
You say
Stop looking for answers
and reasons
they're all in your mind
all in your mind

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Smashing Pumpkins - Bullet With Butterfly Wings

I've had a love/hate relationship with Smashing Pumpkins over the years. I really liked "Siva" when I first heard it. I'm no fan of 70's rock, but somehow the Pumpkins had massaged 70's rock into something that didn't suck- that's no small feat. And, then when "Siamese Dream" was release, and "Cherub Rock" and "Disarm" were getting airplay, I enjoyed them immensely. But, then, 120 Minutes started playing the video for "Today" quite a bit and that song, at the time, really irritated me. Then, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" was released and suddenly, it seemed like all the stupid people liked Smashing Pumpkins (I'm a hopeless snob when it comes to music). So, I just kind of wrote the Pumpkins off at that point.

Recently, I've rediscovered "Gish" and started listening to them again. I've even made my peace with "Mellon Collie". I had luke warm feelings about "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" back when it came out. I obviously listened to it enough to get the themes about alienation, isolation, and inadequacy but, I was not listening enough to be clued into the anti-religious themes. I like the mention of Job. I also like the assertion that the song's protagonist is beyond being saved. Why do I like this? Is it because I have black heart, know I'm hell bound and want as many of god's children to suffer my same fate and be miserable like me? Nah. That would be too easy and cliched. I like it because it calls into question strict ahderence to a dogma that I find slightly illogical at best, and ludicrous at worst.











Bullet With Butterfly Wings
by Smashing Pumpkins

The world is a vampire, sent to drain
Secret destroyers, hold you up to the flames
And what do I get, for my pain?
Betrayed desires, and a piece of the game
Even though I know -- I suppose I'll show
All my cool and cold-like old Job
Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage
Then someone will say what is lost can never be saved
Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage
Now I'm naked, nothing but an animal
But can you fake it, for just one more show
And what do you want, I want to change
And what have you got
When you feel the same
Even though I know--I suppose I'll show
All my cool and cold--like old Job
Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage

Then someone will say what is lost can never be saved
Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage
Tell me I'm the only one
Tell me there's no other one
Jesus was an only son
Tell me I'm the chosen one
Jesus was an only son for you
Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage
And I still believe that I cannot be saved

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Perfect Circle - Judith

Back in 1999 (damn that makes me feel old), I heard this song on the radio. I'm very focused on lyrical content in the music that I like and once my ear was attuned to hear enough of the lyrics to understand just how blatantly blasphemous these lyrics were, I was somewhat surprised that this song could be played on the radio but, also amused that in America, the land that had burned Beatles records over a misunderstanding about something that John Lennon had said, a song like this could happily fly under the radar of the moral watchdogs. After 40+ years, have the evils of rock and roll become passe in American society? I hope so.

On a somewhat related side note, because of this song A Perfect Circle became my gateway drug into listening to Tool.









Judith
by A Perfect Circle

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never ever choose to be
Oh so many ways for me to show you how your savior has abandoned you

Fuck your god
Your lord, your Christ
He did this
Took all you had and
Left you this way
Still you pray, never stray, never
Taste of the fruit
Never thought to question why

It's not like you killed someone
It's not like you drove a hateful spear into his side
Praise the one who left you broken down and paralyzed
He did it all for you

He did it all for you

Oh so many ways for me to show you how your dogma has abandoned you

Pray
To your Christ, to your god
Never taste of the fruit
Never stray, never break, never
Choke on a lie
Even though he's the one who
Did this to you
Never thought to question why

It's not like you killed someone
It's not like you drove a spiteful spear into his side
Talk to Jesus Christ as if He knows the reasons why
He did it all for you

He did it all for you

He did it all for you

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Duran Duran - None Of The Above

If you were a child of the '80s like me, you might have been a fan of Duran Duran. They were one of the staples of early MTV- back when MTV played music videos all the time. I was quite surprised in my early twenties when Duran Duran returned in fine form with a new self-titled album. It is commonly referred to as "The Wedding Album" due to the wedding photos on the cover. Besides having one of the best Duran songs ever, "Come Undone", this album also contains this great non-theistic tune. It's upbeat, dancable, has a slightly rockin' guitar part and does what we all should do; it embraces the unknowableness of the ultimate reality of things. Sometimes admitting that there's no answer to the big question is much, much better than a made up one. That's why freedom also put's my faith in none of the above.











None Of The Above
by Duran Duran

I am by myself, alone...and realize
I never need to use no one
When it comes down to my soul
freedom puts my faith in none of the above

There was a time I was so afraid
of everything people around me said
And I wanted to hide my face in the shadows
There was a time on a bed of nails
I was dreaming a plan up that could not fail
and no power under the sun could put it together

Can't take this attitude,
got to show now, got to move on.
And God knows where I'm going to,
it's a lonely, burning question
I am by myself alone,
and realize I never need to use no one
money, power, holy rose...
freedom puts my faith in none of the above

If there's a time that we ever see the nature of life in reality
Oh, I wanna be there to kick out the answer

Can't take this attitude,
got to show now, got to move on.
And God knows where I'm going to,
it's a lonely, burning question
I am by myself alone,
and realize I never need to use no one
money, power, holy rose...
freedom puts my faith in none of the above

I am by myself alone....

I am by myself alone, (on my own)
and realize I never need to use no one, (use no one)
money, power holy rose (holy rose)...
freedom puts my faith in none of the above
I am by myself alone, (myself alone)
and realize I never need to use no one,
when it comes down to my soul...
freedom puts my faith in none of the above

none of the above...my faith in none of the above
none of the above....I stand by none of the above
none of the above....I stand by none of the above....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Eve's Plum - Jesus Loves You (Not As Much As I Do)

In the, irreverant, blasphemous, cheeky, categories, this little gem by Eve's Plum (a great pun in its own right) is right up there with "Deus" by the Sugarcubes. Eve's Plum are most likely just a forgotten foot note in the annals of 90's alternative rock, from that post Nirvana era when the majors were snapping up anything and everything that might potentially become the next indie band to go multi-platinum. The album that this track is off of, "Cherry Alive" is one sweet, sugar coated good time from start to finish and it all starts off with this great little number.





Jesus Loves You (Not As Much As I Do)
by Eve's Plum

They say I'm damned to hell
Well I'll be damned
I know I'm not to be with you
But I have to

Life is good, life is good
And Jesus loves you, as well he should

They say I'm all through
I can't take no more
They're the types that make me sick
They're the types that make me ill
And you are not

Life is good and Jesus loves you
And so I do, oh
Jesus loves you, but not as much as I do
No, not as much as I do
No, not as much as I do

Hey, life is good and Jesus loves you
And so I do
Oh, Jesus loves you, but not as much as I do
No, not as much as I do
No, not as much as I do

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Cardigans - Do You Believe

I think this song has subtle but strong references to Christianity- 'love is gonna save the world' & 'love is gonna save your soul'; i.e. Christians believe that Jesus loves everyone and that he came to save not only each of us individually, but that he came to save the world. I think that the protagonist in this song, without coming out and saying it directly, is saying that she doesn't believe what Christians believe. Of course, part of the genius of the song, is that by not making direct references to Christianity, it can also just be a dark song about someone's point of view that love isn't all it's cracked up to be.









Do You Believe
by The Cardigans

Do you really think
That love is gonna save the world
Well, I don't think so
I just don't think so
Do you really think
That love is gonna save your soul
Well I sure hope so
Oh, I really really hope so
But I don't think so

Do you really think
That love is gonna save the world
Well, I don't think so
I just don't think so
Do you really think
That love is gonna save your soul
Well I sure hope so
Oh, yes I really really hope so
But I don't think so

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Order - Sunrise

One of the things I love about YouTube is how it has become this great cultural repository that allows you to be able to view things that might otherwise never have been available to you. Obviously, seeing this performance by New Order in Tokyo from 1985 will never be the same as it was to be there, but in 1985, I was a confused 13 year old Mormon kid living in Kearns, Utah. So, this video on YouTube is the closest I'll ever get.

IMHO, this is such an amazing and cathartic song. Some might argue that it is not atheistic because he is talking to god as if god exists. However, the sheer conviction with which he sings this song as a diatribe against a god that has forsaken him (the protagonist within the reality of the song, I don't literally mean Bernard Sumner) is something that is so blasphemous that to many believers it is beyond the pale of what they can imagine when someone addresses the almighty.









Sunrise
by New Order

I've been waiting to hear your voice for too long now
One way conversations do not work somehow
Tell me how does one get your soul in touch with the one above
When one way conversations pay a price for the use of love
I tried so hard last night you would not talk to me
I live with the fear of the few with the gift
And I know what's going to be

Why did you never speak my name in front of my family
You gave a gift that you then took away
Like you never did before
Your name might be God but you don't say that much to me
Your name might be God but you don't say that much to me
We might be your black sheep
But you forgot us a long time ago
We might be your lost sheep
But it's time you remembered us now

As we spend our days together, nothing can go wrong
No one told the truth about it because it was so strong
If you ever think of me, if you hear my name
If you read between the lines, you'll hang your head in shame
These ??? ears will never hear, the ice will never freeze
Whatever I have done for you I did because you complained

Friday, December 3, 2010

Nirvana - Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam

This song, as Kurt points out in the video, was written by the Vaselines. I got to see the Vaselines play in Washington DC this past September. They opened for Teenage Fanclub at the 9:30 Club. Great Show. Of course, they performed this song; people in the audience were shouting out requests for it. The Nirvana cover is quite good, and by covering this song and "Molly's Lips" back in the early 1990's, Nirvana helped introduce the Vaselines to many of us who might never had heard of them otherwise.

What's particularly fun about this song, is how it takes the theme of a traditional Protestant children's song, "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam" and turns it on its head. The result is something that is filled with yummy sacriliciousness.










Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam
by Nirvana
Jesus don't want me for a sunbeam. 'Cause sunbeams are not made like me.
Don't expect me to cry for all the reasons you had to die. Don't ever ask your
love of me.

Don't expect me to cry.
Don't expect me to lie.
Don't expect me to die for thee.

Jesus don't want me for a sunbeam. 'Cause sunbeams are not made like me.
Don't expect me to cry for all the reasons you had to die. Don't ever ask your
love of me.

Don't expect me to cry.
Don't expect me to lie.
Don't expect me to die for thee.

Jesus don't want me for a sunbeam. 'Cause sunbeams are not made like me.
Don't expect me to cry for all the reasons you had to die. Don't ever ask your
love of me.

Don't expect me to cry.
Don't expect me to lie.
Don't expect me to die.
Don't expect me to cry.
Don't expect me to lie.
Don't expect me to die for thee.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

John Lennon - Imagine

John Lennon's "Imagine"; it's hard to imagine today, in our times, how brave he was to release this song in the time that he did. I'm not a fan or a viewer of American Idol, but I did hear about our boy wonder from Utah "covering" this song on that show and leaving off the first verse- how shallow and cowardly. He should have left John's message intact, whether he agrees with it or not, or not sung the song. I didn't really appreciate John Lennon, his solo material, his politics, or what he tried to do until I saw the documentary The U.S. vs. John Lennon. I found the film itself to be a bit lacking in its execution, pacing, and conclusion, but I'm still glad that I watched it because it showed me that despite being a rich musician, John Lennon also seemed to be a genuinely good human being who was trying to do what he could to make the world a better place.











Imagine
by John Lennon

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

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one