Last night I was trying to think up a top 5 list or least 5 decent songs that mention God but don’t sound preachy. Being a Unitarian, I’m try to be respectful of everyone’s beliefs and I know that most songs with the words God and/or Jesus have people running for the hills. I think I found the perfect 5 songs that do that perfect balancing act of mentioning God but may not make your average non-God-fearing person cringe.
Bell X1 are probably the one band I’ve seen the most times and I remember the first song I heard them play was this one. This song imagines a dinner party where the after dinner speaker is none other than…God. The people at the dinner party first ask him about love and, just to balance things out, hate. God’s response is possibly blunt but also ambiguous. Overall, it’s one big swirling, contemplative song on religion, morality and meaning.
Regina lays down the melancholy thick and heavy in this song, which probably mentions God the most out of these 5 songs. The song first takes us through numerous horrific situations where we are highly unlikely to laugh at God before swinging over the comic side of things where, “God can be funny.” This is where the speaker pokes fun at religious “crazies”. You could probably argue this song isn’t even about God but more about people and what situations cause them to look for divine help and when our divine images go beyond the ridiculous.
I think it’s safe to say Dan Bern is a bit like Bob Dylan, a brilliant songwriter but a not too great singing voice. If you don’t mind the voice and just listen to the words, you’ll be treated to one hell of a song. The speaker here who meets God at the “edge of town” where he asks him if he can go back in time to stop the suicide of Kurt Cobain, kill Hitler and stop the crucifixion of Jesus. Each time God refuses, telling the speaker that the outcome would be different than he expected. This song plays on the desire that we’ve probably had every once in a while, where we wish we could change the past. In the end, just like the speaker, we must realise all we have is now.
The first line of this song may sound blasphemous to your typical religious zealot but if you stop after the first line, you’re missing out on a fascinating agnostic contemplation of good, evil, love, hate and miracles (or the lack thereof).
I actually hadn’t heard of this song until the recent Olympics closing ceremony and I think it’s best summed up by the woman herself:
“I was trying to say that, really, a man and a woman, can’t understand each other because we are a man and a woman. And if we could actually swap each other’s roles, if we could actually be in each other’s place for a while, I think we’d both be very surprised! [Laughs] And I think it would lead to a greater understanding. And really the only way I could think it could be done was either… you know, I thought a deal with the devil, you know. And I thought, ‘well, no, why not a deal with God!’ You know, because in a way it’s so much more powerful the whole idea of asking God to make a deal with you. You see, for me it is still called “Deal With God”, that was its title. But we were told that if we kept this title that it would not be played in any of the religious countries, Italy wouldn’t play it, France wouldn’t play it, and Australia wouldn’t play it! Ireland wouldn’t play it, and that generally we might get it blacked purely because it had God in the title.”