I love NG but I find it endlessly fascinating the way that people raised in distinctly ‘low church’ communities will still use ‘stained glass’ and ‘cathedrals’ to signal their childhood christianity. at least I think I read he was raised evangelical
I’ve wondered about that too. My understanding was that he was raised evangelical, and that he was homeschooled. All of his siblings are musically talented too, so it’s been interesting to watch him kind of make his career (with Abby) separate from whatever musical and religious expectations his parent(s?) put on him. My hunch is that in his songs the high-church imagery is simply standing in for what he didn’t like about church (how people were mean to him as a kid, how Christians neglect the poor, the focus on external status symbols rather than real Christianity, etc.). That seems fair, right? I tried googling for some in-depth coverage of his faith (wouldn’t that make a nice piece for a magazine?) but I can’t really find anything.
I guess this is a good excuse to pull out some of the (bare bones) notes I’ve had in my drafts forever about his music:
Look at the lyrics for Moss on a Rolling Stone:
I believe heaven is a pretty place to stay
But not knowing scares me half to death
I believe God is a bigger man than me
But sometimes I think that I can fight him
We kicked the devil on a Friday night
Just about lost when he came in close and tight
Took him with a punch to his gritty chin
Asked him to please not come back here again
From dust and ashes i have called you
And dust you shall become
In the end
From dust and ashes I have called you
And dust you shall become
In the end
Where is your sting
I want to hunt like david
I want to kill me a giant man
I want to slay my demons
But I’ve got lots of them, I’ve got lots of them
I was told to find jesus
In a stained glass church
Where the light shines red like blood
But the eyes of his children
Were so bitterly burned
That i could not stand to look at them
When he finally came to visit me
He was dressed in the rags of poverty
And it came as no surpass
It came as no surprise
The Secondhand Saints lyrics are particularly blunt:
I said, “I think I’ve had enough.
I think I’ve had enough of your ball and chain.
Breaking my window pane.”
I said, “I think I´ve seen enough.
I think I’ve seen enough to keep me running,
‘cause I know what I’ve got coming for me.”
And seminary babies they keep trying to covert me
But I’m much to shy.
Baby if you wanna get to know me better
Than you are gonna have to try.
you did before.
Upper class kids in the youth group
giving me the full scoop
everything that I shouldn’t do
Is it better just to die
Than to be eaten alive
by vultures in the sky
on a Wednesday night
Upper class girls with the dark skin
telling me that me that I shouldn´t try
with the look in their eyes
hard as their thighs
in the name of the Lord
Woud you get lost we’re bored
Jesus, Jesus, if you’re up there won’t you hear me
‘Cause I’ve been wondering if you’re listening for quite a while
And Jesus, Jesus, it’s such a pretty place we live in
And I know we fucked it up, please be kind
Don’t let us go out like the dinosaurs
Or blown to bits in a third world war
There are a hundred different things I’d still like to do
I’d like to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower
Look up from the ground at a meteor shower
And maybe even raise a family
Jesus, Jesus, there are those that say they love you
But they have treated me so damn mean
And I know you said ‘forgive them for they know not what they do’
But sometimes I think they do
And I think about you
If all the heathens burn in hell, do all their children burn as well?
What about the Muslims and the gays and the unwed mothers?
What about me and all my friends?
Are we all sinners if we sin?
Does it even matter in the end if we’re unhappy?
Such good stuff.