Poison – Something To Believe In
In 1990 I bought Poison’s Flesh & Blood album. Flesh & Blood was the album where the very sexually driven lead single Unskinny Bop was released to follow up their very sexually driven first two albums. Surprisingly however, after that song started dropping down the charts the band’s follow up single was the gospel inspired power ballad Something To Believe In.
The chorus of this songs reads like this;
“And give me something to believe in if there’s a Lord above
And give me something to believe in Oh, Lord arise”
While the chorus starts off questioning the existence of God, it seems to end with the singer looking for something to believe in, so his “Lord arise” exclamation maybe points towards him using that blind faith that we often hear that believers need to display in order to remain on track with their faith. But when you drill down into the lyrics of the verses you hear the singer talking about those televangelists who promoted their belief in and devotion to Jesus, yet they ended up ripping off the masses or being found to be scandalised in other ways. He sings of the Vietnam Vet who is terrorised by the horrors of war that he can’t escape from. He talks of his friend who died at a young age, alone and at Christmas time. And he rounds off the song talking about the homeless struggling to survive on the streets while others live a life of luxury.
And before we hit the chorus one more time that leads on to the outro, we hear him sing this phrase;
“And it just makes me wonder why so many lose, so few win…”
Take a listen if you want. The story continues after the YouTube clip.
Bon Jovi – Something To Believe In
It was around this time in my life that I had really become deeply entrenched in questioning everything that I was ever taught about God, Jesus and the tales of the Bible. And hearing songs like this were really cementing the path that I had chosen to turn my back on Christianity. That doesn’t mean I was heading down the path of evil, simply that I was going to be a good and decent person without needing religion. “Good without God” I believe is the atheist’s motto.
Five years after Poison’s Flesh & Blood, and after releasing their Keep The Faith album in 1992 and their first Greatest Hits package in 1994, Bon Jovi released their These Days album which also featured a song, albeit one that wasn’t released as a single, called Something To Believe In. Maybe because it was the times that we were going through in the world, the awakening that many people were having from the early 1990s onwards when bands within the grunge culture were asking the real questions about the society we were experiencing, but here were two of my favourite bands having songs with a title that sparked discussion about believing in something merely for the purpose of believing.
1995 was an interesting year for me. I started a new job with an excellent pay packet for my age back then, a company car, and my first mobile phone. I turned 21 earlier in the year, and by the end of that year I had seen the demise of my first long term relationship take place. To say I was devastated was an understatement, and yet here I was, with my favourite band on the planet at that point releasing a new album that would go on to be the album that signified a change in my life, and it became the album of my summer.
The album opened with another song questioning blind faith. The opening track was to me a somewhat ironically titled track called Hey God. The chorus reads like this;
“Hey God – Tell me what the hell is going on
Seems like all the good shits gone
It keeps on getting harder hanging on
Hey God, there’s nights you know I want to scream
These days you’ve even harder to believe
I know how busy you must be, but Hey God…
Do you ever think about me?”
Once that question gets asked, to me, it opens the door for you to really question everything about God and faith and the whole religious shebang. And then tucked away towards the tail-end of the album is their song with the Something To Believe In title. The song spoke to me in so many ways, and obviously I felt the instant connection to the song with the opening lines;
“I lost all faith in my God, in his religion too
I told the angels they could sing their songs to someone new”
I was never a major fan of the lyrics in the chorus because they seemed a little bit too try hard and were simply written to allow for the internal rhymes that followed suit. But the last two lines summed up where I was right then in my life;
“In a world that gives you nothing
We need something to believe in”
I could see people around me who were clinging onto dear life to remain faithful to God. I saw people trying hard to not be merely Sunday Christians or part time Christians, but people who truly had their faith in God and Jesus. What I was seeing was people who truly needed something to believe in.
But I couldn’t be a part of this. I really couldn’t put my faith in something or someone who had let me down, who had let my friends and family down, and who was letting everyone around the world down. From August 1990 through to February 1991 the world watched on as the first Gulf War took place in Iraq. I knew a few people who were from Iraq. These were kids from my school. I knew these kids fairly well and I knew their families fairly well. And whilst many might now think of Iraq being an Islamic country, these kids and their families were all of the Christian faith. And back before the September 11 attacks in 2001, when I thought of religion, I really only ever thought of Christianity. Islam was not even a blip on my radar yet.
Warrant – Blind Faith
And so for me, faith did not exist. Not even blind faith. Blind faith was a relatively new concept to me which I started exploring back in 1991 after Warrant released their Cherry Pie album which featured a song called Blind Faith. The song was not about religion however. The song was about giving yourself completely to someone else, in the form of being in love. The first time we hear the chorus of the song, we hear;
“Blind Faith in you
I got Blind Faith in you”
For me, if I was going to put my faith in someone or something, and it was going to amount to blind faith, the sort of faith you have when you throw yourself into the belief with reckless abandon not knowing whether you could fully trust this someone or something to always come through for you, it would have to be someone that I loved with all my heart. I already had that unconditional love between a parent and a child, loving both my parents and having faith and trusting in them like every child should. But I knew that as I was growing older, I needed to give myself to someone and have someone return the love that I have to give them, back to me.
And by the end of 1991 after rocking out to the Cherry Pie album for a few months, I thought I had found that someone. But it wasn’t until early the following year that we would get together and start our journey trusting and putting faith in each other.
I think that when you are in love, and when you truly immerse yourself in the type of love that you dream about or see in Hollywood movies, there doesn’t seem to be a need for God. And there doesn’t seem to be room for Jesus to be a third wheel in this coming together of two souls (I’m using soul in the non spiritual concept of the word). I really felt that back then and I still feel that now. I believe that if you have true love, the sort of love that is truly unconditional, you don’t need to put your faith in anything or anyone else.
Whether it’s the love you get from a partner, or the unconditional love you get from your children, love is a very powerful thing. It would be MY something to believe in. It’s my deity. It’s my guiding light. It’s my salvation. It’s something to have faith in.
If the world was a more loving place, I’m not sure that we’d need anything else to believe in. I mean, if we were more considerate of our fellow man, if we were more considerate of the planet and all the other animals we share it with, we wouldn’t need to believe in anything other than what we have, right here in our hearts. Love.
I thought about it more, and I realised that 43 years, 10 months, and 9 days after John Lennon released his gift the world, his beautiful and powerful song Imagine, we haven’t achieved what he hoped we might after he released the song. That is, we could do away with different religions, do away with borders, do away with killing, free ourselves from our possessions, eliminate greed and hunger, and become one family between this Heaven-less sky and the Hell-less land we live upon. But we haven’t…
But I haven’t given up hope. I haven’t lost my faith in his message. And I haven’t lost the thing that I truly do believe in. I believe in the power of music. The power of the song. The greatness of the lyric. The spiritual awakening one can have with a piece of music that gets deep within their psyche.
So we come around full circle. The thing that questioned my need of something to believe in is in itself, something I believe in. Music…
I know, I know. Music can be used to sexualise and discriminate. It can be used to spread hate. It can be used to promote drugs, or be a side attraction for drug culture at raves. Music can be the soundtrack of gang wars, or the backing track to propaganda. But if we are going to hold other things like religion and their god or gods up to high esteem and not de-construct them the way I’ve just done it to music, then we are not comparing apples with apples. Religion has facilitated wars, child abuse, lies, hatred and the killing of innocent humans and animals.
But the believers will always put forward their counter argument to that and suggest that religion has done a lot of good. And it has. Religions have created charities, offered guidance to the lost and downtrodden, brought individuals within communities together. It has brought us annual celebrations that promote love and goodness, and give us time to breathe and catch up or simply reconnect online, my mail or by phone with those we haven’t thought about since the festive season the year before.
But of course, those annual celebrations would be nothing without the songs. Whether it’s traditional Christmas carols or Hanukkah songs, or the more modern Christmas songs, each year we are reminded of those happy family festive celebrations of yore, or the more recent ones that you create with your love after you leave the fold. Music has the ability to do that.
Closer To The Edge – 30 Second To Mars
When I started writing this post, I really didn’t have somewhere for it to go. It sat in my drafts for weeks with random incoherent lines here and there rambling about how two songs from bands I was a huge fan of years ago had different songs with the same title. And like many of my posts, with time, and with a lot of thoughts festering in the back of my mind, when having the chance to do so, I sit down and a stream of consciousness flows from my head down to my fingers and I type. And I’m sure sometimes words hit the screen before I have even realised what it is that I have said, and it’s only when I go back and read over my own words that I understand, or at least try to understand what I have written.
And although I have listened to the last song that I’m leaving you with maybe a hundred times, and often while watching the film clip, this song didn’t make the cut until today. It was when I read over the part where I made mention of believing in the power of music that I thought “where have I heard that before?” Now, it’s not the song itself that I am presenting, but the film clip. Watch the crowd come together as one. It’s a glorious sight to see. And stay right to the end. Listen to the words that the fans say. There’s fans of the band talking before the song starts, during a breakdown before the second verse, and at the end. And I think what these kids have to say is very poignant.
So, I believe in love, and I believe in music, and the love of music. Do you have something to believe in? And why do you believe in that?