No Wrong Notes
Published in

No Wrong Notes

365 Days of Song Recommendations: Jan 5

365 Days of Song Recommendations: Jan 5

Rock n’ roll and religion have always had an uneasy relationship, and it’s rare for any artist to take on the subject of god directly—and when they have, the results have usually been, well, not very rock n’ roll.

Framed this way, the first question we run into when we consider the song Dear God is this one: is XTC actually even rock n’ roll?

To answer this, we can defer to context. In other words, objectively, no, XTC probably isn’t rock n’ roll by any conventional definition. But, at the time Dear God was released, XTC were very much representative of what was generally being called “college rock,” and as such, we can accept the song as rock n’ roll for the purposes of the conversation, given the context. Which means we can definitely say that this is one of rock n’ roll’s most powerful, most moving, and most scathing confrontations with religion.

Musically, it’s actually got a lot of rock to it—big chords, an anthemic arrangement, crunchy power chords, and more. Admittedly, it’s also got a kid singing, and a lot of violins. Take that, Pink Floyd.

Anyhow, lyrically is where it gets really rock n’ roll. Punk, even. The song is a heady, head-on challenge to the very idea of god, and it’s a pretty devastating critique—masterfully so.

Dear god, sorry to disturb you but
I feel that I should be heard loud and clear
We all need a big reduction in amount of tears
And all the people that you made in your image
See them fighting in the street
Cause they can’t make opinions meet about god

And if that’s not enough for you, wait until you get to the big crunch chord crescendo:

I won’t believe in heaven or hell
No saints, no sinners, no devil as well
No pearly gates, no thorny crown
You’re always letting us humans down
The wars you bring, the babes you drown
Those lost at sea and never found
And it’s the same the whole world round
The hurt I see helps to compound
The Father, son and holy ghost
Is just somebody’s unholy hoax
And if you’re up there you’ll perceive
That my heart’s here upon my sleeve
If there’s one thing I don’t believe in
It’s you

If you can hit that hard, then by all means, stick with the violins and the kid singer. You’re still rock n’ roll in my book.

Dear God is ultimately proof positive that rock n’ roll can have ambition, and live up to it. Some artists strive for the high concept, and nail it—Pink Floyd, yes, we’re looking at you. Other artists simply get too big for their britches, and go for far more than their talents will allow—call it the December Rain effect (I’d call it the “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” effect, but that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as well).

On this song, XTC aims for the highest heights, and they hit the bull’s eye sublimely.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Preacher Boy

Preacher Boy

197 Followers

Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist , poet, writer. Vintage guitars, vintage typewriters, new Moleskines.