As I mentioned yesterday, I recently discovered Gomusicnow.com. Two of the first records I downloaded upon this discovery were Hello Hurricane and Nothing Is Sound by Switchfoot. I love Switchfoot. I think Jon Foreman is an incredibly intelligent songwriter, both lyrically and melodically, and I'm really enjoying both of these records.
But as I've been listening to them constantly for the last couple of days, I've started noticing something that has either never been so abundant in Switchfoot's music before or I've just never been in a position to notice before. If, for Jon Foreman, art is an extension of self (and I believe it is) then I think we can maybe safely assume that Jon Foreman feels like shit most of the time. And while that is sad for him, what's disturbing to me, is that he seems to believe that that is the way he and everyone else should feel. Culture is empty and meaningless, people are empty and meaningless, life is empty and meaningless, etc. I really wanted to count all the times the word "entropy" is used in all their records but who has the time? But trust me, it's a lot. Also, he really doesn't belong here, and I really can't blame him for not wanting to belong here if he really sees the world the way he seems to.
Here's an excerpt from "Stars,"
Stars, looking at our planet, watching entropy and pain
And maybe start to wonder how the chaos in our lives could pass as sane
I've been thinking bout the meaning of resistance, of a hope beyond my own
And suddenly the infinite and penitent begin to look like home
Everyone, everyone we feel so lonely
Everyone, yeah, everyone we feel so empty
Here's a little bit from "Mess Of Me."
I am my own affliction
I am my own disease
There ain´t no drug that they could sell
No, there ain´t no drug to make me well
There ain´t no drug
It´s not enough
The sickness is myself
And just a little more from "The Setting Sun,"
I've got a wound that doesn't heal,
Burning out again,
Burning out again
I've not sure which of me is real,
And I'm alone again,
Burning out again
My hope runs underneath it all,
The day that I'll be home
It won't be long, I belong,
Somewhere past the setting sun
finally free, finally strong,
Somewhere back where I belong
I really could go on and on and on, these themes are so abundant in almost every song (but that wouldn't make for a very entertaining blog). Of course, there is a silver lining for the downtrodden. Everything in the world in meaningless, but when you add god to the equation, then at least we have hope for a better world "somewhere past the setting sun."
I think religion enables a lot of shoddy thinking. In some parts of the world, it's still downright dangerous, but even in America where the zeitgeist has dragged most of our religions, kicking and screaming, to a point of moderation that can almost be considered harmless, it still seems to be a proponent of unhealthy thinking. I can so vividly picture an 18 year old Taylor connecting with these lyrics so strongly, as well as all of my christian friends today. What has happened that makes good people think that they aren't worth the skin they're wrapped in unless they believe that one day a loving sky wizard is going to come and make it OK? Why did I believe that? Why didn't it, at least, seem weird to me that I thought that? As I've said before, the most depressing times in my life were when I was the most "connected to the holy spirit." And just like Jon Foreman seems to think, I thought it was good for me to feel that way. How perverse that seems to me now!
Ignoring the fact that this kind of thinking is unhealthy on a social level and leaves little to no incentive to fix the world that you actually do belong to, despite what any chosen faith might want you to think, I think it was the father in me that made me take issue with Switchfoot's lyrics. I think it just dawned on me when I was listening to it, that if anybody tried to convince my daughter that she, her world, and all of her relationships and dreams, were essentially shit unless she prescribed to their particular delusion, I'd be pretty pissed off.
As I said before, I love Switchfoot and I'm not going to stop listening to them because I disagree with them. Nor am I going to keep my daughter from listening to them, if she feels so inclined. (I do think that they also say some really great things about culture sometimes and I'd much rather her listen to lyrics that are at least thought provoking and wrong than lyrics that are degrading and shallow, like so many are.)
What I am going to do is write a record that is the antithesis of their message. You do belong here. We all belong here. There is hope for this life. People are worthwhile regardless of whether or not god loves them or even exists.