Saturday, 21 January 2012
The Grammy Award winning band Arcade Fire has certainly been a buzz in pop-indie culture. Laced throughout their albums have been critiques of the church, reflections on the modern culture, and even spirituality. In my opinion, whether an artist acknowledges the fact that their beliefs impact their lyrics and music, I believe there is spiritual significance in many of lyrics. Richard Butler, the lead singer and song writer, graduated with a degree in theology at McGill University, so it gives some bearings of his background.
The song “No Cars Go” in particular has special spiritual and philosophical significance explaining aspects of the kingdom of God. The vocalist sings about a place where, “no planes go…where no ships go, and where no cars go.” Those who know where and what this place is, “us [the] kids.” One wonders if it is an actual physical place or perhaps a different time. The third answer is that it is an actual place but set in the future, when Jesus returns to set the world right.
One can compare Acts 2:17 to the women, children and old folks sung about near the end of the song. Acts 2:17 says that in the last days, God will “pour out [His] Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (ESV) (emphasis added). Women, children, and young men did not have high social standings in ancient times. They were marginalized and did not have a voice, as opposed to men who were the typical authorian figures. Here the spiritual gifts are reversed; the marginalized now have such talents and those who usually hold power aren’t mentioned.
Acts 2:17 can be paralleled with the lyrics about the women and children going to this place. The song lyrics read,
“Women and children, let’s go!
Old folks, let’s go!
Babies needing cribs, let’s go!”
Can you see the similarities talking about women, children, old folks? I don’t think they are accidental.
And remember what Jesus had to say about babies and infants? Matthew 21:16 reads, “Yes; have you never read, “’Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” (ESV). Now it seems absolutely absurd that babies would have knowledge of God, but God uses the weak instead of the strong and the foolish to outsmart the wise.
The last lyrics read, “Between the click of a light and a start of a dream.” One can only surmise that Christians who are the lights of the world are the ones who start “dream,” or the movement towards seeing the fulfillment of the kingdom on earth. It may seem like merely a dream now, but that’s why we, as Christians, have faith as we cooperate with God in establishing his reign on earth.
The song “No Cars Go” is about empowering the disenfranchised and marginalized populations and giving them a voice. It flips the kingdoms of this world upside down, realizing that those who are in the position of weakness are actually blessed by God. The Kingdom of God isn’t about the most powerful Emperor in the world conquering the world to bring peace, but realizing that Jesus who was a servant to all. Those who are seen as last are first. To truly see the beauty of the song is to listen to it yourself. And even if you don't see the spiritual significance the song is still magnificent.
If you've listened to Arcade Fire's song "No Cars Go," do you think this is an accurate interpretation of the lyrics? What other bands and songs in pop culture have referenced faith and belief?