Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"What I learned about God/church through Delirious lyrics"

"What I learned about God/church through Delirious lyrics"

It would be quite fun to answer regarding U2
(too easy..so easy, it's hard...but here's a free kickstarter kit),
Sigur Ros, Johnny Cash, Misty Edwards, Jason Upton, Switchfoot, Avril Lavigne, Alice Cooper, the lesbians who taught me to pray, Arcade Fire,
16 Horsepower/Woven Hand (Thanks, St. Pete Gall!!)
Bodies of Water, Sinead O' Connor..or anyone on this list..

But for today I'll do Delirious.

Which snippets of their lyrics has God used to let you know what he/church/culture/Kingdom is about? Lines that get stuck in your head and spiritual cache? Phrases that get Godwoven into your prayers, psyche, lexicon and teaching? Mysterious half-sentences that by the Spirit, seep and sneak into your unconscious, or at least coax you into shamelessly singing along in the shower?

Here are a few of mine, samples included. I notice (maybe not coincidentally) these are also their top three most controversial, even banned, lyrics.

1)"God didn't screw up when he made you":

From "Our God Reigns."

The next line is "He's a Father who loves to parade you."
That Almighty God is not aloof, but lavishly in love with us; that as Old Testament prof John Oswalt says, "The God who could fry you alive LOVES you!" should shuffle everything else into context.

We are all supposed to know God loves us and John 3:16. But it's sometimes yada yada until someone jacks up the vernacular, offering a dynamic equivalent of the seedy

biblical Koine like this.

This song also gets extra credit for namechecking both takeout Chinese food and HIV/AIDS, smack in the middle of a worship song. It's nice to be nongnostic in church, for once.

(Delightful look on Martin Smith's face ..2:46ff...as he completes the line; he knows we need to hear it)

2.) "You don't have to believe to belong.":

Lifted from the song "America," ironically never officially released in America.
Perhaps (he sarcastically quipped) it has something to do with this simple statement running completely counterintuitive to the American conservangelical party line of "You must sign our statement of faith and adhere to radio-orthodoxy before we treat you , and trust you, in any way as a civilized human being, let alone a card-carrying church member."

This is missional, Holy Spirited, centered-set theology and practice; and I have opined on this song's message on another post found (until the secret police find it) here.

3)"She's as pretty as hell."

I am not very familiar with this song, but this line moves me, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the honesty.

But honestly, I am not sure what Delirious was (as they say in the UK) "on about" when they
penned this line, from "It's OK." It's seems an unnecessary throwaway, or an intentional dig at the church censors (who prefer we reserve the term "hell" for a more acceptable and orthodox use, as in being glad that certain people are headed there in a handbasket).

Maybe they mean it literally. Her "prettiness" is a seduction, and thus literally from hell.
I'll have to google up a bit of research on this line, and see what I find, if anything. I did hear that this CD was a big secular release in the UK, even appearing as a cereal box prize; maybe the line was rough secular talk that the producer thought would sell with rough seculars. Maybe it was just to tick off the fundies/squeakies... I'll do the research, and be back in a sec..

Sec is up. That's all it took to find the scoop on Delirious' own website. Here it is:

Why do they sing "She's as pretty as hell" in "It's OK?"
On the album Mezzamorphis there is a song titled It's OK which contains the line "She's as pretty as hell and her eyes have no home". The use of the phrase pretty as hell caused controversy in America, with Sparrow Records missing the song off early promotional copies of the album and nearly declining to put it on the finished album. The album was also reportedly removed from the shelves of some Christian stores in the USA because the word 'hell' is a highly sensitive subject in many conservative Christian circles in America.

There is a general misunderstanding of what Delirious? intended the phrase to mean. It is actually meant to express that the girl is emotionally messed up and in deep trouble. The lyrics were never intended to cause offence, as one reviewer explains: "The line is a sad one and not an offensive one – the irony people are missing is that hell is not a pretty place, and the girl who is 'pretty as hell' is really very empty and in need of love."

Due to the misunderstanding of that line, the band have often had to explain what they were conveying in It's OK. In an article in the USA's CCM Magazine in 1999 Martin says: "That song is about life and pain and that you can't always be [all-triumphant]. It's back on the album now, which we feel great about. It's an incredible song of healing, and we hope people will be touched by it." In a letter to fans, published on the band's official website in July 1999, Martin addressed the issue again, saying: "The song It's OK caused controversy because of the word hell in the lyric, and has been pulled from several Christian stores in the U.S., despite the fact it has touched many people profoundly. For us boys, this is a case of 'let's keep anything impure away from the church' when, in my opinion, purity is all about bringing justice to a God-less society. I am not ashamed in the least to talk openly about the fact that the boys and I are all Christians and believe in all that Christ stood for. It is no secret anyhow, as the whole music industry is every bit aware of Delirious?, the "God squad". It is for us like a two-twine chord, having a friendship with God and playing music inspired by that friendship that makes it so powerful."

Very good. You are absolutely

absolved in my book (if not my grandmother's), boys. Reminds me of the hilarious (but literally hell-inspired) story about how U2 was censored in the USAmerican Christian stores. I actually thought Adam Clayton looked pretty as hell in the banned photo...

So there's my Delirious list.

I also love their live and Spiritaneousmoments. I can remember snippets of Martin Smith threw in as if they were yesterday (watch/test drive this one) very prophetic to me. I should mention my least favorite Delirious song and lyric (Don't google it, it should be illegal and unlistenable) , like most fans, is of course "She don't need no bicycle gasoline," which I'll consider forgiving Martin Smith for as it was a love song for his wife. To bad it ended up a bad satire on such. But not a shabby track record: only one lemon in their entire career.

Share your list, lurkers. I know you are out there.

St. Scott the Spy will be first, I predict. And then I'll pay Beth Maynard and Christina Fradams to chime in.


  1. Very easy...

    The Happy Song
    "for now I know God is for me, not against me"
    man, whole song is awesome
    "I could dance a thousand miles because of your great love..."
    plus, for the British, it sounds so American
    Here I Am Send Me
    "invade me, serenade me.."
    My Glorious
    "God will save the day and all will say
    My glorious! My glorious! My glorious! My glorious! My glorious! "

  2. awesome, Scott.

    Funny,on the Happy Song...ay one church I pastored it was a long time before they caught the typo

    "Unseen angles (not ANGELS) celebrate." The youthpastor and U started singing it that way.

    Also,yourlist remindedmeof my Delirious line #4:

    In "My Glorious," there is also the line "All You ever do/is change the old to new." Just kind of a clever phrase, like "Is that ALL God ever does?"

    Well,in a sense, yeah, that covers it all.



Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!