Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Irreligious Song #5: The Jesus and Mary Chain “Reverence”

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on November 6, 2010

Despite their sacrilegious-sounding name (or is it a religious-sounding name?), The Jesus and Mary Chain are not an anti-religion band that uses Satanic or Christian imagery. They’re just a post-punk band from Scotland who became famous for using guitar feedback as a dominant sound in their songs. I don’t mean Jimi Hendrix-type feedback; I mean circular-saw-screaming feedback laced throughout each tune. The following song is one that actually does reference Jesus, although the main idea in the song is about having a glamorous death.

“Reverence” lyrics
I wanna die just like Jesus Christ
I wanna die on a bed of spikes
I wanna die come see paradise
I wanna die just like Jesus Christ

I wanna die just like JFK
I wanna die on a sunny day
I wanna die just like JFK
I wanna die in the USA

I wanna die (x4)

I wouldn’t sell my soul but I’d hang for this
I gotta get my goal cause I’d hang for this


8 Responses to “Irreligious Song #5: The Jesus and Mary Chain “Reverence””

  1. Ann said

    Used to listen to this band (in fact I introduced it to you), but this song is a great example of why I don’t listen to them anymore. I carry the knowledge that one day I will die and my consciousness will disappear. Knowledge of my death, and the deaths of the people I love, doesn’t go away. I am aware I will no longer experience after the time of my death. Listening to this kind of music is just kinda depressing to me. “I wanna die” over and over. Like I need reminding. Why I don’t need this kind of music now. Used to be all I listened to. It’s good for people who need reminding. I don’t wanna die but I will die. I just face it. The worst thing for me is the idea of people I love dying before me. I sometimes think about them and cry. I hate the idea of the people I love dying before me.

    • Bob said

      Well, at least the song spoke to you. šŸ™‚ The JAMC make art, so their music requires a broader interpretive brush. They don’t really want to die: that is the narrator’s voice in the song. I read an interview they did where one of them said that this song is about how people are so obsessed with celebrity and the glamorous life to the point that even death is glamorized. So the song reflects that obsession and takes it to its furthest extreme by having the narrator long after for a death like Jesus and Kennedy: two of the most glamorized deaths in the U.S. The Literature major in me can’t help but love how they titled the song “Reverence” and then blaspheme against the two holiest assassinations Americans revere. And the imagery of the video takes it even further: shooting up the American flag, the dollar bill sign, “Jesus” flashing in neon, the crucified Jesus moves his right hand down so you can briefly see he’s holding a gun…and don’t let’s forget that Jesus, according to the myth, did want to die; he wanted that glamorous death, and it was the whole reason he was there. He made glamorous deaths popular, for Christ’s sake! Anyway, the Jesus and Mary Chain, when they are at their best, make incredible art that makes you think. Their album Psychocandy is probably their best (and this song is from Honey’s Dead), and it contains songs that have a similar modus operandi: taking a traditional pop song, twisting the lyrics to subvert the typical pop message (and to criticize it) and then layering the song in almost unlistenable feedback.

      P.S. Ann, I also find it hard to listen to the part of the song that keeps repeating “I wanna die!” over and over as well. He just sounds so sincere, and it makes me feel like saying, “Hey man, go off yourself somewhere else. I’m trying to enjoy my drive to work.” But, maybe it will help if you imagine it is Jesus singing that on the cross; still satire, but sort of a less-funny version of Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

      • Ann said

        Yeah, I get the imagery stuff in the JAMC song. A glamorous death allows people to live on in the minds of larger numbers of people for a while after through the fame. I’d add that Christians have heaven to look forward to after life, the bright side of death. They live for death, in a sense.

        • Bob said

          Christians live for death. I like that. So true. They sing about death, worship a dead guy, long to die and join the dead guy…creepy. As a side note, how can red blood wash you white as snow? “Therrrrrre’s nothing like the blooodd of Jeeee-sus!!!” All together now!

      • Ann said

        Picturing Jesus on the cross singing, “I wanna die.” šŸ™‚

  2. Noraa said

    alright i’m enjoying your irreligious songs series, but how bout something post-1990? haha, just messing with you but yeah, maybe a perfect circle’s “judith”? i don’t know………

    • Bob said

      Well, I sort of fit the stereotype of folks in their 30s: I know 80s and 90s music the best. In fact, I’ve only ever heard the name Perfect Circle and have never heard any of their songs. Of course, I try to keep up with new bands, but it is harder for me to find stuff on my own. I do like recommendations though, and Prb3 sent some music my way that I absolutely love (it’s not new though–so I guess this doesn’t work very well as an illustration of my point.) Anyway, like I said to Dsc01 (why don’t you guys get some decent nom de plumes?!) I don’t own the Irreligious Song series, so feel free to post your own. I’d love to hear the stuff you’ve found.

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