Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Heaven Week: Holy Trinity Edition

John Lennon: God [purchase]

The Velvet Underground: Jesus [purchase]

The Scud Mountain Boys: Holy Ghost [purchase]

Perhaps it's the holy trinity in song titles, if not in the holiness of lyrical content. But it couldn't be a coincidence that these three songs are among the finest songs each of these artists ever came up with, could it? Surely there is a divine hand.

Though Lennon, Reed, and Pernice might argue the point, starting with Lennon's litany of things he doesn't believe in. "God" was a statement of independence if ever I've heard one--not only independence from religion and spirituality, but also from his former bandmates and indeed all musical peers. This signaled Lennon's ambition to be more than mere songwriter.

"Jesus," meanwhile, might be my favorite VU song. There is an emotional complexity to this song that isn't apparent from the lyrics alone, which in total are "Jesus, help me find my proper place / Help me in my weakness, 'cause I've fallen out of grace / Jesus." Is it a song written from the perspective of someone truly searching for redemption? Or is it laced in sarcasm? I can't be sure--heck, maybe I'm just projecting--but I detect the slightest bit of taunting in this track. I've never read anything by Reed to indicate his own feelings on the subject or the song.

Finally, "Holy Ghost," from the masterpiece that is Massachusetts. Again, God probably wouldn't be too happy with this one, about an addict and loser wishing he was still with his ex. It's lyrically tied to the earlier track from the album (not to mention Joe Pernice's best song ever), "Grudge Fuck," which is also about a loser calling up his ex out of a combined loneliness and lack of weed. With this song, which comes closer to the end of the album the loneliness is increasing. "I'd tempt the holy ghost to have you by my side" - talk about desperation!

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