tremble clef

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Club 8, "Jesus, Walk With Me" (2007)

The movie that terrified my friend and I when we saw it with a week or so ago was not a thriller, a horror flick, torture porn, or even some impossibly cute rom-com that filled the two of us with despair about ever finding someone to love. It was the documentary Jesus Camp.

For Jaz, the film turned out to be doubly traumatic; not only was she amazed by the level of fanaticism, denial, and hypocripsy on show in the flick, but some long repressed memory got awakened. " I haven't thought about this incident in ages, but I had this tuition teacher when I was a kid," she told me over post-movie coffee. "And one day, without telling my mom, she took me to church."

I asked her if she had to go through all the motions, like...I dunno, the eating of the wafer. Quite possibly I didn't even have my denominations right, but somehow it was the worst thing I could think of to have to mime, because doesn't swallowing the wafer when you didn't actually believe that it is the body of Christ lead to...some catastrophe? If not for you, then for the host? No? Or perhaps I was just thinking about wafers because we were having dessert with our coffee.

ANYWAY, Jaz claimed that it was long ago, and it was all a frightening blur. "But here's the thing I do remember," she said. "After the service the tutor gave me a bag of pamphlets. When I got home, I was really scared, and I didn't feel like I could tell my mom about any of it for some reason. And so I just shoved that entire backpack under my bed and tried to forget about it."

"It's probably still there," I said helpfully, "unless it's been consumed by the flames of Satan."

"Probably," she agreed. And then, as if it was either relevant or a logical end to the entire sordid tale, she added: "It was a Snoopy backpack."

The narrator of Club 8's "Jesus, Walk With Me" is nothing like the characters of Jesus Camp. Thank God. From 2001-3, Club 8 released three gorgeous albums in quick succession, but the Swedish band has been quiet since then (although Johan AngergÄrd spent the past few years releasing music with The Legends and Acid House Kings). Their comeback album, The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Dreaming, features a couple of singles ("Heaven" and "Whatever You Want") that suggest that the band has been listening to their fellow countrymen ("Whatever You Want" also pays homage to "Being Boring," while other tracks steal licks and moments from Spector and Depeche Mode).

But the record begins with a beautiful acoustic ballad that's a compelling portrait of faith. Like our friends from Jesus Camp, the song's narrator does desire salvation and comfort: "If God made me, will Jesus save me?/Take me through the day?" But she also understands why she does. Without claiming that her kind of faith is typical of the very structure of faith per se, she pleads nakedly on the haunting chorus: "Fool me into believing/I don't care if you're deceiving me/I wouldn't want it any other way/Cause then I'd only stay the same." Her vocals are here doubletracked, as if she both comprehends the self-deceitful nature of her wants, but also needs to emphasize their urgency despite it all. And, in turn, who among us doesn't understand that very human desire to be protected? By God. By Jesus. By a lover. By a constructed image of something that we ask, beg to fool us. Even by Snoopy.


  • The odd thing about this song is that it simultaneously demythologizes and embraces Xianity. It's an eminently sensible account of why Westerners might be Christians -- in short, Jesus is the only viable candidate for Best Boyfriend Ever -- but you'd never hear any Xian say that in public.

    By Anonymous esque, at 12:27 AM  

  • Absolutely. I guess I find myself touched by accounts of Xianity when the narrator is open about her vulnerability. Like yesterday's song, this is another one that is about a coping mechanism, essentially.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 4:48 PM  

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