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Everybody listens to music, from the top CEO’s who make up the 1% to the primitive tribes in The Amazon, but not many analyze lyrics in music. The current main stream music choice Is made up of computerized beats that are instantly appealing and have little to no lyrics that are easily remembered. We often listen to music for its memorable tune but fail to dissect the actual message or picture the singer is trying to get across. In the song, “Take me to church”, released in 2013 by Hozier, the singer’s stylistic vocals used to open the chorus, make anyone believe it is a gospel song; “Amen, Amen, Amen”.
The song can be categorized under blues and Indie music, by the quality of expression in which it is sung, and the beating of drums heard in the instrumentals. Hozier sends a message that is quite confusing when you first listen to the song because one believes he is praising a woman, or maybe even God, but in reality, he is being blasphemous towards religion.
The narrative of the song however is simply singing about the injustice that homosexuals are subjected to and the role religion plays in it. The singer is voicing his frustration on religion itself, and the lie that God saving one’s soul will lure people in. Negatively looked at, this message is directed towards those who believe in religion and point fingers at others who aren’t in their same “righteous” path but in turn are doing the same or much worse.
The singer strategically put together lyrics and music in a way that is unique, he seems to be doing a protest over music that is instantly appealing and lyrics that are memorable.
Hozier’s song “take me to church” is a song that challenges the belief of God and devotees’ beliefs in him. Hozier voices his frustration with the catholic church and is heard of throughout the song but summarized in the repetitive chorus; Take me to church, I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen you knife Offer me that deathless death Good God let me give you my life. The singer has started the chorus by mocking church goers asking them to “take him to church”, not a temple necessarily, but he may be making the correlation to the description that is made in a bible of one self by saying “your body is a temple” and taking him to bed would be taking him to that church he speaks of. Hozier then makes the comparison of himself to a dog, saying he will “worship like a dog”; although dogs don’t worship God, they do worship their owners and will go back to them no matter how badly they are mistreated.
With this sentence, the reference is also compared to actual believers in God who will “worship” or pray religiously in spite of the fact that whatever it may be that they pray for is resolved or not. The chorus then continues with “at the shrine of your lies” implying that he will “worship” God based on lies, or maybe he’s been lied to before by a priest, or devotees themselves. Hozier then goes to the next sentence of the chorus; “I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife”, proposing that he will be judged for his confession of sins during the sacrament of penance at church, and in return be sought after by religious persecution for various reasons that are deemed sinful to the church or commandments in the bible. The song continues with, “Offer me that deathless death”; referring to the belief of eternal life after salvation. After being very blunt with his position and his blasphemy, he uses sarcasm to say that he will surrender himself to God.
“We were born sick, you heard them say it”, is a reference to the “original sin” which is the Christian belief that states that the existence of humanity since the fall of man stemmed from Adam and Eve’s disobedience of God by eating the forbidden fruit. The “forbidden fruit” is a metaphor for sexual relations, which was forbidden by God, since we are procreated we are therefore a product of sin. As said in the song, “Something meaty for the main course, that’s a fine looking high horse, what you got in that stable?”; is a direct blow to religious people he speaks about who think they are better than others, and who look down at gay people for their sexuality. Hozier may also be describing his lover in this passage by using “meat” which is millennial slang for penis. Due to this verse in the song the audience targeted are not only members of the LGBTQ+ community but anyone who believes they are above others for following rules deemed as holy by their religion.
As said on an interview; “with a religious organization that would undermine sexuality and its I suppose have valid it as part of the human experience and you know teach about who to love and how. so, you know the song more references the catholic church.” (YouTube, CBC News: The National, “Hozier explains “take me to church” song). Hozier’s explanation behind the music video helps depicts the message he is trying to convey. The singer brings to light the social issues and discrimination targeting homosexuals in certain parts of the world, including his home country of Ireland
There continues to be a lot of controversy with the catholic church, including sexual abuse allegations of minors. The irony of it all is that, the priests involved in these allegations went against their own belief system as stated in the seventh and ninth commandment; “You shall not commit adultery”, and, “You shall not covet”. Directly speaking to people who question religion and its religious leaders, this is one of the reasons why people turn away from religion and what it has to offer. Although there are only a handful of passages in the bible that directly mention homosexuality, it is frowned upon in many religions including Catholicism. In many countries where Catholicism or Christianity is practiced, members of the LGBTQ+ meet in secret due to being criminalized and in some instances sentenced to death. Around the time when the song was written, members of the LGBT+ community in Russia including other countries, were seen as “highly infectious”.
There still continues to be no laws in Russia protecting LGBT+ people and are in danger of “honor killings” by their own relatives. Although seen as taboo in the United States, local officials in Russia approve of these atrocious murders. In the U.S several laws have ruled in favor of the LGBTQ+ community. However, in spite of the fact that the supreme court ruled it unconstitutional for states to ban same sex marriages, not all state legislators are abiding by this decision. Their reason being is that, marriage should be a union between one man and one woman not only by the state law but also seen in churches within holy matrimony.
After carefully dissecting this song, my personal views towards religion stay the same. The singer lends support to many questions I had growing up, and many questions that are left unanswered. Personally, never affected by religious or lawful persecution for having a partner of the opposite sex, I never quite understood how religion could make God seem so merciful yet very critical at the same time.
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