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Tue Jul 12, 2016, 07:30 PM

Bad Religion - Mixing music with philosophy

I used to listen to a lot of Bad Religion in my youth. I didn't appreciate it nearly as much then as I do now that I'm a bit older but there's a lot of great ideas tucked away in their music.

The following thread will include bits and pieces from some of my favorite Bad Religion songs. Some of these songs touch on the same ideas in various ways.

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Reply Bad Religion - Mixing music with philosophy (Original post)
PoliticalMalcontent Jul 2016 OP
PoliticalMalcontent Jul 2016 #1
PoliticalMalcontent Jul 2016 #2
PoliticalMalcontent Jul 2016 #3

Response to PoliticalMalcontent (Original post)

Tue Jul 12, 2016, 07:43 PM

1. Individuality and not just following blindly along.



Song: Henchman
Album: No Control
Year: 1989

Lyrics:
Stranded In a life in which your struggle for acceptance
Is a never-ending chore
Upbraided For your actions past and present and rewarded for the ideas
Of the future's bright open door
The henchman Is the human analogue of the suffering multitudes
Who like good dogs sit and lick for their reward

So what good advice have I got for you
To insure against your likely metamorphosis into this reprobate?
Don't be a henchman
Stand on your laurels
Do what no one else does and praise the good of other men
For good man's sake
And when everyone else in the world follows your lead
Although a cold day in hell it will surely be
That's when the entire world shall live in harmony

----



Song: Individual
Album: Stranger Than Fiction
Year: 1994

Lyrics:
Individuals run for cover
For the multitudes of thoughtless clones have reached a critical mass
Individuals hide in fear, under cover
Sheltered by the wafer thin veil of intelligence
Individuals, nowhere to be seen
Urbana is oozing like a bloated carcass
With maggots cooking in the desert heat
Oozing, with progeny writhing and desperate
For input from someone more determined

Congregating in invisible circles
Half apart and half apart
All too aware of the insignificance
Pushing on with soul and heart

Individuals don't pray for forgiveness
When pinned up against the wall under siege of persecution
Individuals command exception
And accept dichotomy
Maybe you can't choose anymore
Procreation without gain or purpose
Languid wills and torpid minds
Catapulted ever faster by the arrow of time

-----

To me, both of these songs talk about the wisdom of not following along with the crowd, albeit from slightly different perspectives. The earlier song (Henchmen) is more of a guide for how not to just fall in line with common opinions and be different, while the latter (Individual) is more about how rare and hard it is to actually be that individual.

I find the perspectives fascinating and accurate to a large degree. It's not easy blazing your own path. If you don't follow societal norms, or rules, you run the risk of being shunned.

Anyway, food for thought. I'll probably break down more Bad Religion in the future as I believe there is value in their music.

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Response to PoliticalMalcontent (Original post)

Tue Jul 12, 2016, 08:22 PM

2. The Automatic Man and some finally some commentary on religion.



Song: The Automatic Man
Album: No Control
Year: 1989

Lyrics:
He's the latest superhero with powers so profound
He can leap a dotted line in just a single bound
I know you must have seen him in books and magazines
He's the quintessential mindless modern episcene
His life is meaningful because he gets things done
Bang bang he's dead, chalk up another triumph for our hero
The Automatic Man

It's true you must have met him, he's your best friend and your foe
His opinions are determined by the status quo
A true creature of habit, he smokes three packs a day
When he has an original thought, he forgets it right away
He's a paradigm of carefree living
He's our mentor, disturb him if you can
He's the answer if your peace of mind is lacking
He's our savior, he is the common man
So if you are troubled by the daily bump and grind
Then take a careful look around and brother you will find...
The Automatic Man

---

I especially like the second verse on the Automatic Man. 'His opinions are determined by the status quo', etc. Really dovetails well with the previous post on individuality.

----



Song: Spirit Shine
Album: The Gray Race
Year: 1996

Lyrics:
Shed a tear for the criminal, give him something to believe
Light a fire for the miserable, give the darkness some meaning
Closed wounds harbor pestilence, when you lick them from within
Charity has a redolence chastity cannot rescind

Spirit shine, it's a sign
Of a tortured mind
Spirit shine all the time
Can render you blind

You can take it all to heart or throw it all away
You can give until you're dry and sucked of all your gleam
You can fake another cry and compromise your dream

Cling tight to the parable - let it dominate your life
Create a God who's infallible - give your leader some respite
Closed wounds harbor pestilence - when you lick them from within
Rosy smiles lose their radiance - when you take it on the chin

Spirit shine, it's a sign
Of a troubled mind
Spirit shine all the time
Can render you...

Spirit shine, it's a sign
Of a tortured mind
Spirit shine all the time
Can render you blind

----

They've got plenty of songs to choose from on the topic of religion, but that's probably my favorite in terms of philosophy and sound.

It's not that religion is bad... it's just, when you let it blind you to realities... that's not good. However, there's usually a reason why people allow themselves to fall so deeply to fall into religion. They're looking for 'The Answer' (another Bad Religion song actually) or just trying to look toward something that brings some happiness to life... Zealotry of any kind is dangerous though.

Speaking of 'The Answer'...

----



Song: The Answer
Album: Generator
Year: 1992

Lyrics:
Long ago in a dusty village
Full of hunger, pain and strife
A man came forth with a vision of truth
And the way to a better life
He was convinced he had the answer
And he compelled people to follow along
But the hunger never vanished
And the man was banished
And the village dried up and died

At a time when wise men peered
Through brass tubes toward the sky
The heavens changed in predictable ways
And one man was able to find
That he had thought he found the answer
And he was quick to write his revelation
But as they were scrutinized
In his colleagues eyes
He soon became a mockery

Don't tell me about the answer
Cause then another one will come along soon
I don't believe you have the answer
Ive got ideas too
But if you've got enough naivety
And you've got conviction
Then the answer is perfect for you

An urban sprawl sits choking on its discharge
Overwhelmed by industry
Searching for a modern day savior from another place
Inclined toward charity
Everyone's begging for an answer
Without regard validity
The searching never ends
It goes on and on and on for eternity

Don't tell me about the answer
Cause then another one will come along soon
I don't believe you have the answer
Ive got ideas too
But if you've got enough naivety
And you've got conviction
Then the answer is perfect for you

----

An interesting commentary on how religions and how people are at times eager to accept any 'answer' that can make life easier.

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Response to PoliticalMalcontent (Original post)

Tue Jul 12, 2016, 10:50 PM

3. Inner Logic, ends on a bit of political truth.



Song: Inner Logic
Album: Stranger Than Fiction
Year: 1994

Lyrics:
Automatons with business suits clinging black boxes,
Sequestering the blueprints of daily life
Contented, free of care, they rejoice in morning ritual
As they file like drone ant colonies to their office in the sky

I don't ask questions, don't promote demonstration,
Don't look for new consensus, don't stray from constitution
If I pierce the complexity I won't find salvation
Just the bald and overt truth of the evil and deception

There is an inner logic, and we're taught to stay far from it
It is simple and elegant, but it's cruel and antithetic
And there's no effort to reveal it

Graduated mentors stroll in marbled brick porticos
In sagacious dialog they despise their average ways
Displaying pomp and discipline, they mold their institution
Where they practice exclusion on the masses every day

Decorated warriors drill harmless kids on pavement
Simulated tyranny under red alert
Protecting the opulent and staging moral standard
They expect redemption of character and self-growth

(No equality, no opportunity, no tolerance for the progressive alternative) X2

----

Another song that brings social commentary to the front and center from the perspective of the author. That last line rings extremely, painfully true. We have been taught give up our wants and desires for 'good enough', or to keep power away from the other guys. All anyone seems to use nowadays in politics is fear.

It's a real shame.

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