Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nerd Post: Artistic Intent and Assorted Intricacies

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this publicly during any of my appearances (and by "publicly" and "appearances" I mean the places I go, like work and church and, occasionally, a bar), so I don't know how many of you know about this, but I am a HUGE Postal Service fan. The best part of their one album, besides the obligatory "I like the way their songs sound," is their consistently interesting/compelling lyrics.

There is this one song, "Clark Gable," that I have always found haunting and addictive in particular. I've listened to it dozens of times, and every time it gets me thinking about what the lyricist is trying to say. I don't know about you, but for me that isn't all too common. But in the lyrics to this song I see a calm desperation and striving for something the lyricist somehow understands to be impossible and yet must be extant. The specific lyrics I'm thinking of are part of the chorus:

"I want so badly to believe that there is truth, that love is real/ and I want life in every word, to the extent that it's absurd/"

What I really, really want to know is whether or not Ben Gibbard (who I assume wrote the song but have been unable to confirm) knew that what he is absurdly longing for is the very exact thing that Jesus promised to his followers? Now I'm not being silly here, I am only mentioning a verifiable fact that the Bible records Jesus saying: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," and "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly," and finally in first John we read "God is love." Now, these are the claims of Christianity, I'm not even asking that you believe they are true; I am only pointing out that the very thing that Christ claims is the very thing that Gibbard says he is absurdly thirsting for. All I want to know is, did he know he was asking for the things that Jesus promised?

I have to assume the answer is no. But at the same time you have to admit it's quite a coincidence, that he would use the exact same words as Jesus would to describe exactly what he wants from life. From the minimal research I was able to do, I found this quote on religion from Mr. Gibbard: "[I am] this indoctrinated Catholic even though I haven't been to church of my own volition in 10 or 15 years now." So there is at least a chance that he was aware of the connection. Of course Jesus couldn't be the thing he is desperate for. In his sub-culture Jesus represents the religion of bigots, homophobes and nuts; anti-fun people who are the opposite of the words "life" and "vitality." Yes, I sigh, and I understand it's the brush we've been painted with, and sometimes it's us (meaning the church) doing the painting. A full-throated refutation of that straight jacket caricature is in order, but, alas, it's for another day.

That's all I've got; just wanted to make that observation in a public kind of way. My only question is: Is that at all interesting? Or is it quite boring, a non-starter, vapid and reaching? I like to think it's the former, but I'm biased so my vote doesn't count.

1 comment:

tom deslongchamp said...

I've also appreciated his lyrics. I hadn't considered what you said, but I agree that it's about wanting something that foundational, true purpose and confidence in love.

I think "Different Names For the Same Thing" is also really beautiful, which is a Death Cab song. He really awesomely describes the disillusionment with constantly traveling to new places, realizing there's nothing really new about another place. Sorta like Ecclesiastes.. nothing new under the sun. If you haven't heard that song, I recommend it.