“This is the kind of song that you write when you’re 56.” – Steve Earle
We’re going to spend one more day on the song “God is God” by Steve Earle. Yesterday’s recording of the song was by Joan Baez, but today I want you to hear it from the songwriter himself.
A little history shows you that Steve got a pretty fast start in country music in his twenties with a pretty cool hit, “Guitar Town,” that went to number 7 on the country charts. The video of that song shows him young and pretty arrogant, playing concerts, riding on the tour bus, signing autographs — the typical “I’m a star now” stuff. And then you find a recent live recording of the song, “God is God” which he introduces by saying, “This is the kind of song that you write when you’re 56.” Thirty years can make a lot of difference.
I’m spending more time on this because of what we can learn about finding truth in the world and about understanding people’s own journeys, and in some cases, finding elements of our own. And I’m spending another day on this because I didn’t hear from enough of you. I want to know what you think. What you like about this song — and don’t like about it.
Here’s a few questions that might help you dig.
- What is the concept of God expressed in this song?
- Can you find evidences of worship in this song?
- Do the following two lines ruin it for you? “God, of my little understanding, don’t care what name I call. Whether or not I believe doesn’t matter at all.”
- Do those lines lead you to believe the writer doesn’t believe?
- What would lead you to conclude he does believe? (How about the fact that he says he does three times. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that one!)
- Would you call this man vulnerable or arrogant?
- Would you call his faith real or phony?
- Do you think he is a Christian? Does it matter to the song?
- Have you ever realized that your money tells you to trust in God?
- In the last verse, he talks about another chance to “get it right” and letting his little light shine in the darkness, and then wonders if someone might be watching him and “wondering what I got” (I assume he’s referring to his faith). That is truly an evangelistic concept. You don’t think like that if you didn’t grow up in church. And then he comes up with the clincher: “Maybe this is why I’m here on Earth.” So why, after this very popular Christian argument for our existence does he tack on, “and maybe not”?
- What would you say is the overall message of this song?
- Would you call this a Christian song? Why or why not?
God is God
by Steve Earle
Click here to watch Steve’s version of his song.
I believe in prophecy
Some folks see things not everybody can see.
And, once in a while, they pass the secret along to you and me.
And I believe in miracles.
Something sacred burning in every bush and tree.
We can all learn to sing the songs the angels sing.
Yeah, I believe in God, and God ain’t me.
I’ve traveled around the world,
Stood on mighty mountains and gazed across the wilderness.
Never seen a line in the sand or a diamond in the dust.
And as our fate unfurls,
Every day that passes I’m sure about a little bit less.
Even my money keeps telling me it’s God I need to trust.
And I believe in God, but God ain’t us.
God, of my little understanding, don’t care what name I call.
Whether or not I believe doesn’t matter at all.
I receive the blessings.
And every day on Earth’s another chance to get it right.
Let this little light of mine shine and rage against the night.
Just another lesson
Maybe someone’s watching and wondering what I got.
Maybe this is why I’m here on Earth, and maybe not.
But I believe in God, and God is God.