Ben Folds & Jesus ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ben Folds & Jesus

Forget Keanye West. On his latest CD, Songs for Silverman, Ben Folds released a more authentic Jesus-song (one you would almost expect to see Derek Webb's name on). Here's live video, with the lyrics below.

Folds' interest in Jesus is fairly well documented in his discography. From the angst-ridden "Mess" (but I don't believe in god/so I can't be saved) to the perplexed account of his friend's conversion in "Not the Same" (you gave your life/to jesus christ/...and you were not the same after that), the Christian God seems to hold a fascination for Ben Folds.

"Jesusland," on the latest album, is a critique of Christian subculture, and Folds says as much in a taped interview: He asked himself what Jesus would think if he came to middle America and saw all these people "using his name to sell [stuff]." Folds suggested that the very people who turn Christianity into a commercial racket would fail to give physical help to the real Jesus if he actually showed up (a very biblical concept). This is the premise of the song.

However, imbedded in Folds' critique is a sympathetic treatment of Jesus Christ. Maybe this is why I find myself replaying "Jesusland" and appreciating the message. So far as I can tell, Folds' latest take on Christ conveys a kind of shy admiration (an impression which was reinforced when I listened to Folds' minimalist commentary on the song). Listen yourself and see what you think.

I'm intrigued at the magnetic allure that Jesus Christ has for many artists who don't openly profess to know him, and I can only pray that Ben Folds' interest will progress beyond sentimentality to redemptive knowledge.

Lyrics to "Jesusland":

Take a walk / Out the gate you go and never stop / Past dollar stores and wig shops
A quarter in a cup for every block /And watch the buildings grow / Smaller as you grow

Down the track / Beautiful McMansions on a hill / That overlook a highway
With riverboat casinos and you still / Have yet to see a soul / Jesusland

Town to town / Broadcast to each house / They drop your name
But no one knows your face / Billboards quoting things you never said
You hang your head and pray / For Jesusland

Miles and miles / And the sun's going down / Pulses glow from their homes
You're not alone / Lights come on / As you lay your weary head / On their lawn

Parking lots / Cracked and growing grass / You see it all
From offices to farms / Crosses flying high above the malls
Along the walk / Through Jesusland

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Jon Schrader said...

Very well said. I hope the same for Ben


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife