Tuesday, 18 November 2014

10 Great Songs With Biblical References

Let's not shit ourselves just yet. Yes, this is going to be a post about songs with biblical references. No it will not be a commentary on the Catholic/Christian religions, nor will it seek the validity of any passage that the songs may refer to. Since this blog's inception I have been diligent to keep the content strictly about the music. Not the race, religion or sexual orientation of any of the artists behind the songs. Could give a shit about that. Here are 10 Great Songs with Biblical References.

1. Metallica - "The Four Horsemen"

The Bible is a great place for metal bands to draw inspiration for lyrics. It's got some very violent and messed up parts. Especially the book of Revelations which basically is describing the end of the world. One of the most famous elements from that book is the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Their names vary but the most famous incarnations are War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. In this song War is replaced by Time. Like I said variations exist. On a side note you might notice a similarity between this song and the song "Mechanix" by Megadeth. Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine was the guitarist for Metallica when this song was written and is given writing credit for the song on Kill 'em All. After he split from the group he released the song on Megadeth's album Killing Is My Business....And Business Is Good! Metallica reworked the lyrics and added a bridge so they weren't the exact same songs.

2. Regina Spektor - "Samson"

Samson was essentially a Herculean figure in the Bible's Old Testament. A man of superhuman strength could squash an army by himself and killed a lion with his bare hands. His powers came from his flowing locks of hair, which also made him invincible. Sadly Samson had a thing for shady woman and fell for the Sorek woman Delilah. Delilah was paid off by Samson's enemies and she shaved his head one night as he slept. He soon captured and killed by the Philistines.

3. Mumford & Sons - "Babel"

The story of The Tower Of Babel is how The Bible explains all of the Earth's languages. After the Great Flood the descendants of Noah tried to build a tower so high that it would reach the heavens. To quell their efforts God changed all of their tongues so they couldn't understand one another. Mumford & Sons themselves say the song is about human discontent, which is a theme in the story of Babel.

4. Leonard Cohen - "Hallelujah"

This song has grown a life of it's own since it's original release in 1984 with countless artists recording all sorts of versions of it. In my opinion there are only 2 versions of "Hallelujah" that you need to be arsed with: Jeff Buckley's haunting recording for his 1994 debut Grace and the original written by Leonard Cohen. Cohen knew he had something special on his hands and was careful not to be hasty when releasing it. "Hallelujah" went through several demos with dozens of sheets of lyrics and content that Cohen was drawing inspiration from. The Bible was perhaps the biggest source of inspiration as several stories from it are referenced. The aforementioned Samson & Delilah, the 12 Commandments and King David and Bathesba.

5. Bob Dylan - "Jokerman"

Much like Leonard Cohen Bob Dylan was known for his whimsical, clever and often poetic lyrics. His song "Jokerman"off his 1983 album Infidels is chalk full of references to renaissance times, Greek mythology and yes The Bible. Most notably the line "You go to Sodom and Gamorrah, but what do you care; Ain't nobody there would want to marry your sister". Sodom and Gamorrah was a city known for it's debauchery. Wan't an example? Look up the story of Lot and his angel buddies. That should be enough.

6. The Rolling Stones - "Saint Of Me"

Though very obvious biblical allusions litter this track off of Bridges To Babylon, "Saint Of Me" is actually written about Billy Preston a legendary R&B performer known for his run-ins with the law. Preston actually plays keyboards on the track. The Stones were sued for this song by a husband and wife duo who claimed this song sounded like their track "Oh Yeah" though it appears the lawsuit went nowhere.

7. Avenged Sevenfold - "Beast and The Harlot"

Remember what I said about Metal bands finding great inspiration from The Book of Revelations? Here's another beauty, it's from Avenged Sevenfold who have made a living writing songs inspired by literature. "Beast and The Harlot" has lyrics paraphrasing the story of The Great City Of Babylon's fall which describes several beasts and a harlot who ushers in the downfall of earth's kings. It's a wild story and this song kicks so much ass. Just alot of fun all around!

8. Jars Of Clay - "Flood"

Jars of Clay are the only self-proclaimed Christian Rock Group on this list. Not only is the song "Flood" an obvious allusion to a biblical tale. (If you don't know the story of Noah's Ark yet I ain't the one who should be telling you) but their band name is one too. It's from the book of Corinthians that describes people as jars of clay, or something. To show that God created an awe-inspiring treasure not humans. I think.

9. The Byrds - "Turn! Turn! Turn!"

Where metal bands can find inspiration in The Bible to form songs of death and destruction, hippie bands can use it to create lyrics for songs of peace, love and happiness. The part of the song that is explaining that there is a time for this and that is almost taken verbatim from the book of Ecclesiastes.

10. The White Stripes - "Cannon"

This song features a sample from an a capella song by Son House called "John The Revelator". It is said that St. John wrote the Book of Revelations that all those crazy fiery beasty brimstoney visions come from. \Hence he is "John The Revelator". I like the White Stripes...in fact most of what Jack White comes out with I enjoy. He's released s much music and has been part of so many groups I could probably write a rather diverse blog post about him. Hmmmm......

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1 comment:

  1. I still remember KD Lang signing Hallelujah at the Olympics with fondness.