Depeche Mode And Religion Essay Research Paper

Depeche Mode And Religion Essay, Research Paper

Depeche Mode: Songs of Faith and Devotion

Originally released in 1993, Depeche Mode’s Songs of Faith and Devotion was

unveiled to a stunned U.S. and U.K. audience. The band had undergone a transformation

of truly gothic preportions. Gone were the short crew cuts, the sole use of synthesizers,

and the Gap image. In its place were long and flowing Jesus-like hair, distorted guitars

and full drum sections, and a look that some described as the “heroine junky” mode.

Much to the surprise of die-hard fans, the album was a commercial success, spawning a

full length live album, 5 top twenty Billboard hits, and a relentless 18 month tour which

ended abruptly when keyboardist Alan Wilder quit the band after 16 years.

The content of Songs of Faith and Devotion came out of an era of confusion and

redemption for the band, and namely from lead singer Dave Gahan’s fight with heroine

and cocaine addiction. After spending 3 years in seclusion after the release of Violater in

1989, the band reuinited in early 1992 to begin recording a new album. The tone of the

album would be so overtly religious that some fans were initially turned off by the

constant references to God, holiness, redemption, suffering, and the like. The most

glaring example of Depeche Mode’s new-found religion is the song Walking in My

Shoes. The song was written by Martin Gore in response to the public outrage regarding

Dave Gahan’s new “bad boy” image, with his constant public misbehaviour, his new

adoration for religious tattoos, and his striking new resemblance to Jesus. The lyrics tell a

tale of a man who’s life has been turned upside down by trials and tribulations.

Like Job before him, many of the problems that Dave Gahan had encountered

were beyond his control. The creative tension between Martin Gore and Alan Wilder, the

constant touring and public appearances, the death of his mother and father, and a long

legal battle with Sire records had taken their toll on Dave’s psyche. Martin Gore was

always the first to confront Dave, but in this case it was through music that he would best

serve the purpose of bringing Dave back from the brink of despair.

The first verse of the song introduces us to the characters point of view, with an

emphasis on things that are done to him, rather than what he has done to himself

I would tell you about the things they put me through

The pain I’ve been subjected to

But the Lord himself would blush

The countless feasts laid at my feet

Forbidden fruits for me to eat

But I think your pulse would start to rush

The first three lines give the impression that his suffering is not because of God, but in

spite of it. The second line has a connection with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Adam indeed had a “feast” laid at his feet, and the final line seems to imply that the

character has more to tell us, but is afraid that we would not be able to understand, or

possibly to believe, what he has to offer us.

The second verse gives the impression that the character has been made a

scapegoat, and is being made an example of

Morality would frown upon

Decency look down upon

This scapegoat fates made of me

But I promise now, my judge and jurors

My intentions couldn’t have been purer

My case is easy to see.

The first three lines talk of morality and decency, and this is important not only to

identify the character as a “good” person, but also as one who is suffering through no

fault of his own. The last three lines talk of intentions, which seems to relate quite

literally to the relationship between Job and God. In the Bible, Job suffered so that God

might make a point to Satan, and therefore his intentions could be seen as “good”.

While it should be noted that at no time does this character ever profess any type

of religious preference, the choice of words leads one to believe that his experiences are

of a holy nature. The constant religious references throughout the album give it a very

dark and somber mood, but also leaves the work open to interpretation. Some would say

that the album is that of doom and gloom, others would say it is probably one of the most

uplifting pieces of music ever written. As with the bible, or any religious work, the frame

of mind of the reader is key to the interpretation of its message.


Depeche Mode, Songs of Faith and Devotion

The Bible, King James Version


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