spirits that speak


For whom does the bell toll...?

I'm preparing to write yet another bit of observations about my favorite song lately called "Hate Me" by a band called Blue October. But while that's on the way, something just occured to me tonight.

I was at a friend's place celebrating a birthday and it's 9pm. As I'm sitting near a fire and catching up on old times with some people, I hear church bells. I don't know how many that will read this have heard church bells before, but it made me wonder why churches still ring bells. You have to hear these bells. They just kind of make me stop and think. It's beautiful.

The funny thing is that they make me think it's just one way that God could be using to remind us that, no matter what we're doing or how we're living our lives, "I'm still here." Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they come from a church and they have that "church bell" sound, I don't know. Maybe that has everything to do with it. But I don't want it to be a trite kind of thing when I say that God wants us to know He's still here. I also don't think of it in a happy, "Jesus loves me" sunday school way. The bells sound almost eerie. It's night time, and there's a slightly cool fall breeze. Maybe the actual reason they ring is that the church they are located at wants people in the community to know that they are still there, and it might not be as sincere as I would like to think...

I'm not an optimistic person. Anyone who actually knows me would tell you that. But, when it comes to spirituality and faith, I tend toward the optimistic. Because of that, I am actually kind of hoping, as I hear the bells, that the reason they ring is because the church just wants to remind people about God being here for us. And I'd like to think that it is actually God speaking to my heart when I hear those bells. I don't feel close to him much of the time, as I used to. But I do believe that he doesn't drop loyalty to us as easily as we do to Him (or a faith we might have claimed once that we had).

And for that I am thankful.


Jesus Walks...the trilogy?

Well, I finally did it. I wrote a series of posts about the Kanye West song "Jesus Walks".

It's important to note that these are my observations about the song and not the absolute fact. I do make assumptions about the interpretations I'm stating, but I wouldn't have a problem if someone proved me wrong.

Anything lyrical that's in parentheses is background singing. All lyrics are in italics and are sourced from http://www.azlyrics.com. I've got 3 posts about the song. Read what suits you.

1st verse

We at war
We at war with terrorism, racism...
but, most of all, we at war with ourselves

God, show me the way, because the devil's trying to break me down

You know what the midwest is, young and restless
and restless niggaz might snatch yo necklace
and next these niggaz might jack yo lexus
somebody tell these niggaz who kanye west is
i walk through the valley of the Chi where death is
top floor the view alone will leave you breathless
Try to catch it, It's kinda hard
Getting choked by the detectives yeah now check the method
They be asking us questions, harass and arrest us
Saying "we eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast"
Huh? Yall eat pieces of shit? What's the basis?
We ain't going nowhere but got suits and cases
A trunk full of coke rental car from Avis
My momma used to say only Jesus can save us
Well momma I know I act a fool
But I'll be gone 'til November, I got packs to move I Hope
(Jesus Walks)

The first verse talks about the things some people go through in life. The "wages of war", so to speak. There's crime in the midwest, even in a city like Chicago, which not many would list amongst the most dangerous of American cities, Kanye West reminds us that nothing is really safe anymore.

There is still a lot of unreasonable harassment of black people at the hands of law enforcement. And then drug dealers. People whose families still hold out hope that they can be helped, but only Jesus can help them because they're invovled in things that are dangerous and are too far gone to be helped by anyone else.

Chorus and 2nd verse

(Jesus Walks)
God show me the way because the devil's trying to break me down
(Jesus Walks with me)
The only thing that I pray is that my feet don't fail me now
(Jesus Walks)
And I don't think there is nothing I can do now to right my wrongs
(Jesus Walks with me)
I want to talk to God but I'm afraid cause we ain't spoke in so long

To the hustlas, killers, murderers, drug dealers even the strippers
(Jesus walks with them)
To the victims of Welfare for we living in hell here hell yeah
(Jesus walks with them)
Now hear ye hear ye want to see Thee more clearly
I know he hear me when my feet get weary
Cuz we're the almost nearly extinct
We rappers is role models we rap we don't think
I ain't here to argue about his facial features
Or here to convert atheists into believers
I'm just trying to say the way school need teachers
The way Kathie Lee needed Regis that's the way yall need Jesus
So here go my single, dog, radio needs this
They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, video tapes
But if I talk about God my record won't get played Huh?
Well if this take away from my spins
Which will probably take away from my ends
Then I hope this take away from my sins
And bring the day that I'm dreaming about
Next time I'm in the club everybody screaming out
(Jesus Walks)

The chorus says a lot. There are constantly things in some people's lives that threaten to distract them from other things they need to focus on. Or maybe they're running to save their lives. There are people that are so far gone that no good works can reverse the damage they've done to themselves or others. A lot of people in bad situations are desperate and want to cry out to God, but don't think they can anymore.

The 2nd verse makes it even more obvious that Kanye West wrote the song for people on the fringes of what's considered acceptable by society. The song is a reminder that, no matter what the circumstances, no one loses their humanity. Jesus sees everyone as people and wants to help them.

Then Kanye West brings the words closer to his own experiences. Everyone could use Jesus' help. And Jesus doesn't turn down anyone who asks it. It's something Kanye thinks our culture needs to hear. He believes that it's considered acceptable to talk about almost anything in entertainment and the popular arts except what may be most important.

But Kanye's drawing the line and saying that, despite costing him some airplay, he wants to get this message out. And, hopefully, despite being somewhat subversive, it will catch on to the point where everyone will love the song and associate the message with him.

Final Thoughts

The song is on the first CD Kanye West released called "The College Dropout". Of course, Kanye West wasn't a popular artist before the album that had "Jesus Walks" on it came out. Despite what Kanye expected, millions of spins on popular radio and 3 different versions of the video later, people probably do scream out "Jesus Walks" when Kanye's in the club. I wonder if any of them take the song as seriously as I think Kanye meant it?

Then there's the remix of the song, with lines like God showed me the way, now the devil can't break me down. I finally talked to God, I ain't afraid cuz his love is so strong. This is part of what makes me think the song was meant to be taken seriously. Hopefully I've done it some justice.

Also, if you can handle a little cursing, I would also recommend the songs "Through the Wire" and "Family Business" (how you acquire them is entirely up to you ;-) The first of the 2 is about how Kanye got in a car accident and had his jaw wired shut because of the injuries. He actually recorded the song while his jaw was still wired shut! "Family Business" is about...his family. It's kind of self-explanatory, but a great song.

To those who got through these posts, this message is for you: thanks for reading! Feel free to comment citing how stupid or brilliant my interpretations are.