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WildWind
(acolyte)
05/26/02 02:41 PM
A Better Future: From God's perspective new  

I swear I don't just hunt for religous metaphors in everything, but sometimes they're obvious.

I gave the lyrics to "A Better Future" my first close listen the other night, and it just jumped out at me as a song, similar to "Saviour Machine," in which God/diety of your choice is dissatisfied with the way people are conducting themselves and promises consequences if they don't shape up.

Here are the lyrics as I can make them out. Obviously there are holes; I'd welcome any help in filling them in.

Please don’t tear this world asunder
Please take back this fear we’re under
I demand a better future
Or I might just stop wanting you
I might just stop wanting you

Please make sure we get tomorrow
All this pain and all this sorrow
I demand a better future
Or I might just stop needing you
I might just stop needing you

Give my children ???
Give them room? and cloudless skies
I demand a better future
Or I might just stop loving you
Loving you
Loving you

???
[In this section I can only make out a few words, and the phrase “how many tears must fall"]
???

I might just stop wanting you
I might just stop needing you
I might just stop loving you
I demand a better future
I demand a better future
I demand a better future
Or I might just stop loving you
Loving you
Loving you
I demand a better future
I demand a better future
I demand a better future
Or I might just stop loving you
Loving you
Loving you
I demand a better future


The lamentations in this song are all about the state of the world. He's not referring to "a better future" in individualistic terms, or in terms of a relationship or anything of that nature, he's talking about "a better future" for the world at large, a world that's not torn asunder, a world with "cloudless skies" (a reference to rampant pollution, perhaps?), indeed, a world where there is a future, in which we haven't destroyed our surroundings and ourselves.

And it seems to me that only a God figure would be able to demand a better future at this level and threaten to stop "wanting, needing and loving" people if we don't fix the problems.

I haven't figured out yet how this would fit into the album's concept as a whole, or whether the album does have a concept. I have figured out that my original interpretation of the album based on the song titles and a few lyrics is not accurate.

But the interpretation of this song seems plain as day to me. Other thoughts?

WW

If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.

tv eye
(stardust savant)
05/26/02 03:10 PM
Re: A Better Future: From God's perspective new [re: WildWind]  

give my children sunny smiles , i think
i disagree about the god persona in this song though, rahter i see it as an ultimate heathen song, i. e. bargaining with the god as an equal instead of praying or begging.

just another lame signature..

zimmo
(wild eyed peoploid)
05/26/02 04:37 PM
Re: A Better Future: From God's perspective new [re: tv eye]  

i think a better future is for and by children to grownups also we grownups all were and are children ourselves i think humans have to take care for a better future themselves on humansized levels ( there are no other levels then human to human between humans as children we felt more equal to one another naturally everyone is and should be one to one still we learn to think vertically related between one another in our complated minds naturally it be should be horizontal and lateral with more simple pleasures most clouds we create ourselves

its a song of daddy and lexi i think



WildWind
(acolyte)
05/26/02 05:05 PM
Comments new [re: zimmo]  

Those are very good alternative interpretations, tv eye and zimmo. But I will throw out some disagreement for discussion's sake.

tv eye, the problem I have with your interpretation is that it denies personal responsibility. Is God really responsible for tearing the world asunder? Perhaps that is the point of the Heathen, that the problems are God's fault and He should fix them (though the Heathen supposedly doesn't believe in God, so there's a bit of a contradiction). I also find the use of the word "please" odd under this interpretation, since if the Heathen blames God for the problems, I don't see him being quite so polite. It sounds like whoever is demanding a better future truly cares about whomever he's making the demands of, but isn't willing to put up with further crap. This is more in line with a God persona than a Heathen persona.

As far as the parent/child interaction suggested by zimmo, the question I have about this is the references to the narrator's children. If this is coming from a small child, this is looking very far into the future - further into the future than I think most children do. If it's referring to an older child, then I think that older child would have already realised that taking care of the world is her responsibility as much as it is her parents'. Again it denies personal responsibility, which I don't see coming from a child who is already old enough to be thinking about her own children.

Let the discussion continue...

WW

If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.

twister
(acolyte)
05/26/02 11:30 PM
I Demand A Better Song new [re: WildWind]  

One of Bowie's quotes about Heathen is that the album is "a warning to whatever that higher spirit is" that he better make the world a better place for Alex to grow up in. - pianocraft.

I think that pretty much sums up the song. Even if pianocraft was joking (you never know, that's his beauty), I'd still think he inadvertently hit the nail right on the head. Hence I think it's a man making demands of God, not vice-versa.

In reply to:

it seems to me that only a God figure would be able to demand a better future at this level and threaten to stop "wanting, needing and loving" people if we don't fix the problems.


I'm with TV Eye in saying that's pretty much the point. That the narrator feels he has the audacity to actually make demands of God. That he's not willing to just be his mindless 'slave', if God wants his love he damn well has to do something.

In reply to:

the problem I have with your interpretation is that it denies personal responsibility. Is God really responsible for tearing the world asunder?


Is the narrator himself responsible for muders and rapes commited by members of his own species? I think not. It's like a schoolyard. If one child is sick of all the name-calling and bullying the other children partake in, is it irrational for him to call on the help of the headmaster?

I think the "give my children" demands also point towards someone making demands because they want their children to grow up in a better world. Of course, this can also be read in a "we are all children of the Lord" sense, but my way makes more sense to my ears. After all, I don't say to my brother "Give my brother a tenner", do I?

In reply to:

(though the Heathen supposedly doesn't believe in God, so there's a bit of a contradiction)


If it is, as I believe, indeed a person talking to God - why assume that this person is a Heathen? Because that's the album-title? Do we assume We Are The Dead is sung by Diamond Dogs? Seriously - just because the album is titled Heathen doesn't mean we should jump to any conclusions that the narrator is supposed to be one. Or perhaps, as in your pre-release interpretation, he doesn't become one until the final track.

In reply to:

I also find the use of the word "please" odd under this interpretation, since if the Heathen blames God for the problems, I don't see him being quite so polite.


I don't think the narrator blames God for all the world's problems, so much as he would just like him to fix them. Again, like the schoolboy analogy - the boy knows it isn't the headmaster's fault that all the other boys are ignorant shitheads, he's simply the higher power to go to in order to sort it out. In acknowledging that the headmaster is indeed a higher power it makes perfect sense to retain a sense of politeness.

So in conclusion, it's about a dude that says "c'mon God, wash the scum off all the streets, I'm trying to bring a kid into this world. Please? I'll stop loving you if you don't...".

I realise through this thread that the lyrics to this song are actually pretty fine. The song itself annoys me though. It's the whole Never Let Me Down trick of having really bleak lyrics juxtaposed with a fairly 'happy' sounding tune and pronounciation. Usually Bowie pulls this off well (no examples come to mind, but I'm the interpretation forum so I'm sure you can fill in the blanks) - but here it just grates on me.

I could be a genius if I just put my mind to it.

Spunkrat
(electric tomato)
05/27/02 01:39 AM
I'm with stupid new [re: twister]  

I'm with twister and TV eye, on this one. Nice try WW, but no cigar BTW, apparently a heathen isn't actually a non believer, just someone who doesn't believe in Allah or the Judeo Christian god, so there is no reason why the 'Heathen' couldn't be singing to a more amorphous Great Spirit.
Anyway, The Heathen doesn't have to be a persona - it might just be the theme (or even just the context) of the album. Like Earthling, or Outside

Tomorrow is the first cliche of the rest of your life.

AdamModerator
(crash course raver)
05/27/02 04:46 AM
The Fear of a God and a Damned Eternity [re: WildWind]  

In an early post, you said that Slow Burn "suggests resentment toward the institution of organised religion". In this song, we have the lyric:

In reply to:

Please take back this fear we’re under


This sounds like a reference to Fear of God.

The Fear of God is one that is created by institutions to scare people into religion. It says that if we don't worship, we will burn in hell. In Sunday, The Heathen sings "in your fears, of what we have become, how we must burn". This is his destiny according to the Church.

Another very interesting lyric - and perhaps one that is key to the remainder of the album - comes at the end of Sunday: "All my trials will be remembered".

The trails suggest that the character's faith, patience, and stamina are to be subjected to temptation and suffering - as is the definition of the word.

The "suffering" is present in Slow Burn, which - as pianocraft describes - denotes the misery of a living hell. Once again there's the fear we're under - "there's fear over head, there's fear on the ground - slow burn".

Temptation is tested in Afraid. The character places his "faith in medication" and a "crooked smile". Likewise in "I've Been Waiting For You", his faith is diverted to a woman who promises to "save his life".

In "I Would Be Your Slave", he has grown impatient with God and demands for him to reveal himself.

In track nine, the angels have gone. It is clear that the character has turned his back on religious worship - "we never talk anymore". But importantly this doesn't mean he disbelieves in God. A "heathen" is merely one that is irreligious - hence, the character is still addressing God in the final stages of the album.

My suggestion is that "A Better Future" is not asking God to fix the problems of the world but rather to take back the "fear we're under". This is allowing The Heathen the simple right to sunny smiles and cloudless skies, rather than the prescribed destiny of pandemonium under almost any religion.

The Heathen is demanding his rights as a Heathen.

In reply to:

???
[In this section I can only make out a few words, and the phrase “how many tears must fall"]
???


I hear it as such:

When we talk - we talk to you
When we walk - we walk to you
From factory to field,
How many tears must fall
Down there alone
(????) - not sure, I can hardly make this out.
Nothing is moving

xgirl81
(grinning soul)
05/27/02 09:21 AM
Re: The Fear of a God and a Damned Eternity new [re: Adam]  

"In Sunday, The Heathen sings "in your fears of what we have become, how we must burn"

The words here are not "how we must burn" but "now we must burn/ all that we are" according to what's posted on bowienet.



Isolar_
(crash course raver)
05/27/02 09:57 AM
Re: The Fear of a God and a Damned Eternity new [re: xgirl81]  

He really does get an A for effort this time doesn't he?


ISO

Sometimes the world outside´ll take you in with just a smile, and you so blinded with desire. A hundred sleepless nights have left me wasted and so cold, But I can take it, I´m hangin´ on, I Can´t let go



zimmo
(wild eyed peoploid)
05/27/02 05:15 PM
Re: Comments new [re: WildWind]  

its him coming up for the rights of a good future for his children
so he sings for them being a grownup with a grownup concience/experience of what all is wrong and wishing a better future for them giving it the power of the birthright of the children themselves so its he sings "along with them "and their child power
Every grownup that doesnt care for a better future for the world isnt in his priorities nomore and he will stop loving
besides that in every grownup is still the child they were themselves




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