Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Song-by-Song Review of Raising Up the Dead: She

Everybody follows her around
She takes up their burdens like a crown
You’re invisible when she’s around

She’s got it all together
And she has no alibi
She’s lighter than a feather
And she never tells a lie
She gives it up so easily in love
She’s got it all together

She does everything you know you should
All your chivalry does her no good
She’s undoing all the things you’ve done

Whether you love, or whether you hate
You have to deal with her, she’ll ruin your life
But she’ll stay by your side so she can pour the drink
She knows who you are, and she’ll argue your case
If you confess to her and wear her dress tonight

I have to admit being a bit flummoxed by this song. I’m not quite sure who “she” is. I want to lean toward the Church because of the references to taking up burdens, pouring drink, legal defense, and confession. Grace is another strong option. I think I might have to go stanza by stanza with this one.

Everybody follows her around/She takes up their burdens like a crown/You’re invisible when she’s around

A possible undercurrent of jealousy runs through the song. “She” makes you invisible and everyone wants to be near her. The second phrase uses a common aphorism in a unique way. Normally people wear their own burdens like a crown, which means that they are overly serious and feel proud of being laid down by the harshness of life. But “She” wears others’ burdens like a crown. “She” takes their burdens from them and turns them into something beautiful. People follow her because they feel better when she’s around.

She’s got it all together/And she has no alibi/She’s lighter than a feather/And she never tells a lie/She gives it up so easily in love/She’s got it all together

The chorus continues the theme. “She” is almost too perfect.

She does everything you know you should/All your chivalry does her no good/She’s undoing all the things you’ve done

Again, She seems to do everything right. And your efforts mean nothing.

Whether you love or whether you hate/You have to deal with her/She’ll ruin your life but she’ll stay by your side so she can pour the drink/She knows who you are, and she’ll argue your case if you confess to her and wear her dress tonight.

Here’s where I really feel an argument for the Church. In Calvin’s theology, the Church is compared to a mother (See Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV.1.I). You can love or hate organized religion, but you cannot be a Christian without dealing with the Body of Christ. The Church could ruin your life, or at least the life you’re living now. We should be made uncomfortable by the Church’s preaching and message. It should change our lives. Even though she ruins our lives, she will also stay by our side and “pour the drink” – perhaps a communion reference. The Church is where we find our identity as children of God, in baptism we become a part of God’s family. In some respect, then, the Church knows who we are. In Calvin’s theology the Church is also God’s means of grace. “She” is involved somehow in our access to salvation. She will argue our case – leading to justification. She’ll do this if we confess to her, confession being an action done often at church, and “wear her dress.” If Christ’s bride is the Church, then “She” would wear a wedding dress. One of Derek Webb’s most famous/infamous songs is known as Wedding Dress. In it, he links our reception of God’s grace with putting on a “Wedding Dress,” and running down the aisle. The Church is not grace (the dress), but is somehow involved in grace.

Obviously, this interpretation is flawed. Not everybody follows the church. What about making us invisible? Having no alibi? And the church definitely does not have it all together. Of course, many of these phrases could have double meanings. For instance:

“Got it all together” – the body of Christ comes together into one body.

“Have no alibi” – means that there is no one with her. She stands alone. The church is the church alone, there is no other. In another song about the Church, Webb writes “there are none who can replace her.”

Grace comes a close second in my understanding of this song. Grace takes up our burdens and turns them into something beautiful. It undoes our sins. Grace changes our life, ruins it, and makes it into something new. It will never lie to us. It is lighter than a feather. Confession also could have a dual meaning – either confessing sin or confessing, as in attesting to belief in something.

Again, I confess that I don’t fully understand this song. But that makes it all the more intriguing to me. I can pull out tons of references in here. The song makes me think. It made me pull out my copies of Calvin’s Institutes!

Musically, the song also has a great groove to it. I especially appreciate the harmonies on the bridge and the excellent ramp up back to the chorus.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you thought about the woman being wisdom, as i think proverbs refers to wisdom as a woman.